State rolls out new women's program

By Ed Sterling
Texas Press Association

   AUSTIN — A women's health program is in effect and ready to deliver more care to more women statewide who are 15 to 44 years old and whose income is up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

    Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith, in a joint announcement on July 25, said they expect the “new and improved” Healthy Texas Women program to serve some 300,000 women, while earlier programs served 270,000 women. Participation for minors will require parental consent.

    Nelson, current chair of the state Senate Finance Committee and former chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the program combines and streamlines two of the state’s previous women’s health programs to provide a full range of women’s health services, including: Pregnancy testing and counseling; Family planning; Immunizations; Breast and cervical cancer screenings; Screenings and treatment for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol; and more.

    “State funding for women's health services has reached an all-time high," said Sen. Nelson. "We have expanded our provider network to the largest it has ever been and will continue working to make sure women all over the state can access family planning and other preventative health services.”

    “We place a high priority on helping all Texas women access the comprehensive healthcare services they need,” Smith said, “and we’re committed to helping ensure more women know what benefits are available to help them take charge of their health.”

    More information is available online at

Certification program debuts

Secretary of State Carlos Cascos on July 27 invited Texas businesses to participate in the Human Trafficking Prevention Business Partnership Program created by the Texas Legislature in 2015.

    The program requires the secretary of state to present a certificate of recognition to a participating corporation or private entity to recognize its contributions to the efforts of federal, state and local officials engaged in combating human trafficking and prosecuting human-trafficking crimes.

    To apply for a certificate of recognition, a business must submit information demonstrating a zero-tolerance policy toward human trafficking and that measures have been taken to ensure employees comply with the policy. 

    A certificate of recognition is valid for three years and may be renewed.

Hurricane season 


    The Texas Department of Public Safety on July 26 encouraged Texans to evaluate their emergency plans and monitor weather forecasts for potential hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane season began June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. 

Historically, August and September are the more active months during a hurricane season.

DPS Director Steven McCraw listed measures to prepare:

- Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions;

- Review hurricane evacuation maps and select a route;

- Plan how family members and pets will evacuate safely;

- Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or older family members; and

- Stay informed about changing local and regional weather conditions.

More information is available online at

Panel gets budget input

    Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar expects the state economy tocontinue to grow, but at a slower rate than in recent years, when the oil and gas industry provided added stimulus.

    Hegar, in testimony before Texas’ 10-member Legislative Budget Board on July 25, said other oil- and gas-producing states have been similarly affected.

    The board’s job is to develop budget and policy recommendations for legislative appropriations, to analyze proposed legislation for its fiscal consequences and to evaluate and review the efficiency and performance of state and local governmental operations.

    Tom Currah, chief revenue estimator for the Office of the Comptroller, told the panel he anticipates $5 billion less than the current revenue projection of $113 billion for general spending in the next budget. The estimate, a critical component of the budget-writing process, is delivered at the beginning of each legislative session.

New area code is added

The Public Utility Commission of Texas on July 21 announced the North American Numbering Plan Administrator has assigned 726 as the overlay area code within the 210 Area Code. 

This action includes almost all of Bexar County and small portions of Atascosa, Comal, Guadalupe, Medina and Wilson Counties. The new area code is needed to handle regional growth combined with added demand for wireless phone numbers and business landlines, the PUC said.

The overlay means current 210 area code customers will get to keep their 210 numbers.

New customers could be assigned either the 210 or 726 area code. All customers will be required to dial 10 digits for all local calls and 11 digits for long distance, the PUC said.

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