TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:
Pursuant to Article IV, Section 14, of the Texas Constitution, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby disapprove of and veto Senate Bill No. 191 as passed by the Eighty-Second Texas Legislature, Regular Session, because of the following objections:
I am vetoing Senate Bill 191 because I have serious concerns regarding overreliance on the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in the disposition of contested case hearings at the Texas Medical Board. This provision is also included in House Bill 680.
The board is charged with regulating the practice of medicine in Texas by, among other things, enforcing physicians' standards of conduct and imposing appropriate sanctions when those standards are violated. When the board is unable to resolve a case, it is referred to an administrative law judge (ALJ) at SOAH. Senate Bill 191 requires the board to accept an ALJ's findings of fact on whether a physician has committed a violation.
This provision weakens the board's authority to oversee physicians, and vests that authority instead in the ALJ. This bill treats the Texas Medical Board differently from every other occupational licensing agency by mandating that the board accept the ALJ's findings.
The responsibility for deciding whether a physician has violated a standard of conduct should belong to the multimember board, and not to a single ALJ. ALJs serve the important role of providing an independent forum for conducting adjudicative hearings to determine the facts, but their role is to assist agencies in reaching a proper decision, not to supplant them or relieve them of that duty.
Since the Eighty-Second Texas Legislature, Regular Session, by its adjournment has prevented the return of this bill, I am filing these objections in the office of the Secretary of State and giving notice thereof by this public proclamation according to the aforementioned constitutional provision.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have signed my name officially and caused the Seal of the State to be affixed hereto at Austin, this 17th day of June, 2011.
Governor of Texas
ESPERANZA "HOPE" ANDRADE
Secretary of State