Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1418
By: Jones, Jesse
Human Services


According to the Senate Committee on Human Services, long-term care
consumer advocates, provider representatives, and Texas Department of Human
Services (DHS) staff have expressed concerns regarding the state's
procedures for protecting facility residents from abuse, neglect, or
exploitation.  State law provides that long-term care facilities and home
health agencies must obtain a state criminal history record for new
unlicensed employees who provide direct care to residents or consumers.
Facilities are prohibited from employing persons who have been convicted of
certain offenses, such as homicide, sexual assault, or injury to a child or
elderly or disabled person.  Currently, facilities can obtain an instant
criminal history check for a potential employee through the Department of
Public Safety (DPS) via the Internet.  However, since there is a $4.29
charge per request, most facilities submit typewritten requests to DHS,
which then forwards it to DPS, at no charge.  A facility is permitted to
hire an employee pending written notification from DHS regarding the
background check, which can take up to eight weeks.  Such delays can make
residents of long-term care facilities vulnerable to theft, physical and
mental abuse, and exploitation.  House Bill 1418 modifies the provisions
related to criminal background checks and drug testing of employees of a
long-term care facility. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Board of Human Services in
SECTION 2 (Section 242.050, Health and Safety Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 1418 amends the Health and Safety Code to authorize a regulatory
or private agency that forwards criminal history record information to
certain facilities that serve the elderly or disabled to do so by using the
Internet in order to expedite the information.  The bill adds theft to
those offenses that preclude an employee's eligibility to be employed in a
position involving direct contact with a consumer in such a facility.  The
bill requires an institution to prepare a written statement describing the
institution's policy for conducting criminal history record checks of
employees and applicants for employment, and to begin providing the
statement no later than January 1, 2002 to each person applying for
services from the institution and any person requesting the information. 

 The bill requires the Texas Board of Human Services (board), by rule, to
adopt a model drug testing policy no later than December 1, 2001 for use by
convalescent and nursing homes and related institutions (institutions) to
ensure the safety of residents through appropriate drug testing of
employees and to protect employee rights.  The bill provides that the model
policy must require at least one unscheduled drug test each year for an
employee who has direct contact with a resident in the institution, and
that the policy authorize no more than one random, unannounced drug test
each year for any other employee.  The bill authorizes an institution to
adopt the model drug testing policy adopted by the board or to establish
another policy. 


September 1, 2001.