By: Springer  S.B. No. 572
         (In the Senate - Filed February 2, 2021; March 11, 2021,
  read first time and referred to Committee on State Affairs;
  April 8, 2021, reported favorably by the following vote:  Yeas 9,
  Nays 0; April 8, 2021, sent to printer.)
Click here to see the committee vote
  relating to members of the clergy who are employed or voluntarily
  enter inpatient health care facilities to minister during a state
  of disaster, emergency, or epidemic.
         SECTION 1.  The purpose of this section is to protect the
  religious liberty of each patient or resident and to protect
  inpatient health care facilities from costly lawsuits and
  administrative complaints on the basis of religious discrimination
  by affording patient or resident access to members of the clergy
  provided that those members of the clergy enter the inpatient
  health care facility and comply with the safety requirements of the
  facility in order to visit and minister to the patient or resident.
         SECTION 2. Chapter 81, Health and Safety Code, is amended by
  adding Section 89.010 to read as follows:
         Sec. 81.010.  DEFINITIONS.  In this section:
               (1)  "Inpatient health care facilities" means all of
  the following:
                     (A)  A hospital licensed pursuant to Chapter 241,
  Health and Safety Code.
                     (B)  A nursing home, nursing facility, or skilled
  nursing facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 242, Health and
  Safety Code.
                     (C)  A continuing care facility, as defined in
  Chapter 246, Health and Safety Code.
                     (D)  An assisted living facility, as defined in
  Chapter 247, Health and Safety Code.
                     (E)  A special care facility, as defined in
  Chapter 248, Health and Safety Code.
               (2)  "Patient" means the patient of the hospital or the
  legal or designated representative of the patient.
               (3)  “Resident” means a person who resides or receives
  services at a nursing home, nursing facility, skilled nursing
  facility, a continuing care facility, an assisted living facility,
  or a special care facility or the legal or designated
  representative of the resident.
               (4)  "Public health emergency" means a state of
  disaster that is declared pursuant to the Texas Disaster Act,
  Chapter 418, Government Code, or a state of public health disaster
  imposed in accordance with Section 81.082(d), Texas Health and
  Safety Code.
  executive commissioner shall promulgate rules, pursuant to the
  Administrative Procedure Act, Chapter 2001, Government Code, to
  require inpatient health care facilities to allow members of the
  clergy to visit patients or residents during a public health
  emergency whenever a patient or resident requests such a visit.  
  Special consideration shall be given to patients or residents
  receiving end-of-life care.
         (b)  The rules shall include but not be limited to
  definitions, minimum requirements, and provisions to protect the
  health, safety, and welfare of the patients or residents and the
  staff of the inpatient health care facility.
         (c)  The rules shall allow inpatient health care facilities
  to adopt reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on patient
  or resident visitation that are implemented for the purpose of
  mitigating the possibility of transmission of any infectious agent
  or disease or to address the medical condition or clinical
  considerations of an individual patient or resident.
         (d)  The rules promulgated pursuant to this section shall be
  preempted by any federal statute, federal regulation, or guidance
  from a federal government agency that requires an inpatient health
  care facility to restrict patient visitation in a manner that is
  more restrictive than the rules adopted by the Texas Department of
  State Health Services pursuant to this section.
         SECTION 3.  Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to
  prohibit or restrict any inpatient health care facility from
  allowing clergy to visit or minister to patients or residents in a
  manner deemed appropriate by the inpatient health care facility
  prior to the effective date of the rules which are to be implemented
  by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
         SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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