HBA-RBT S.B. 785 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 785 By: Wentworth Criminal Jurisprudence 5/4/1999 Engrossed BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, Texas law does not define an "autopsy report" and autopsy reports include photographs and x-rays taken during an autopsy. The lack of an explicit definition leads to uncertainty regarding materials required to be included in an autopsy report, and it is reported that fees authorized to be charged for copies of the autopsy report are inadequate to cover costs. This bill would define an "autopsy report," clarify statutes relating to persons authorized to receive the report, limit public access to autopsy photographs and x-rays, and authorize the commissioners court to set fees for copies of the autopsy report, photographs, and x-rays. S.B. 785 sets forth procedures and guidelines for the filing, release, and disclosure of autopsy reports. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 671B, Health and Safety Code, by amending SEctions 671.011 and 671.012, and adding Section 671.013, as follows: SUBCHAPTER B. AUTOPSY REPORTS Sec. 671.011. New heading: DEFINITION. Defines "autopsy report." Provides that an autopsy report does not include investigative reports or certain other documents. Sec. 671.012. New heading: FILING AUTOPSY REPORT. Makes no changes. Sec. 671.013. RELEASE OF REPORTS; FEES. Requires an autopsy report to be released to an authorized person in connection with workers' compensation or insurance claims. Authorizes a recipient of information under Subsection (a) to disclose information only to the extent consistent with the authorized purposes for which the information was obtained. Requires the commissioners court of the county having custody of an autopsy report to charge a fee not to exceed $25 for written portions of a report and the actual cost of reproduction, including the reasonable cost of overhead for x-rays and photographs. Deletes a provision regarding a $5 fee. SECTION 2. Amends Section 11, Article 49.25, Code of Criminal Procedure, to provide that medical records kept by a medical examiner are subject to required public disclosure in accordance with Chapter 552, Government Code, except that autopsy photographs or x-rays are excepted from required disclosure under Chapter 522, but are subject to disclosure under a subpoena or authority of other law, or if the photograph or x-ray is of a body of a person who died while in custody of law enforcement. Deletes provision requiring such records to be public records. SECTION 3. Effective date: September 1, 1999.