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The Brief: Officials neglect grant application for anti-overdose drug

While federal funding is never guaranteed, if accepted, the grant would’ve given the state $1 million to purchase an anti-overdose drug.

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The Big Story

Texas officials never submitted the grant application that may have awarded the state $1 million to buy the anti-overdose drug, Naloxone. And while no one knows for sure why the grant was not pursued, here’s what we know so far:

•  The Texas Department of State Health Services attempted to keep the public from seeing information related to the grant. When the Texas Attorney General's office said those records are public under Texas law, DSHS sued the AG's office. A DSHS spokesman said the agency’s lawsuit was merited because unfinished drafts are exempt from open records law, but researchers with knowledge of the grant application said their work was complete but not approved by state leadership.

• Six months after The Texas Tribune's initial open records request, a DSHS spokesman said the agency’s lawsuit seeks only to keep draft copies secret. Emails relating to the grant would be released, the spokesman said, but he did not give a timeframe.

• A spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said no one had directed the Department of State Health Services not to apply for the funding. However, some advocates believe state leaders were uncomfortable with the proposal because they did not want to appear “soft” on drugs.

Advocates for greater access to Naloxone expressed disappointment with the state’s inaction. A few weeks after the grant's deadline, a task force formed by the Department of State Health Services published a report detailing an alarming rise in the state’s maternal mortality rate. A leading cause, its authors wrote, was opioid abuse.  

#TxLege Today 

The House Committee on Human Services and Juvenile Justice and Family Issues will meet jointly today (10 a.m. JHR 140) to evaluate the pipeline of foster care youth being recruited into human traffickingSee the full committee schedule

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Mentally ill lose out as special ed declines, Houston Chronicle 

SAPD officer shot, killed near police HQ downtown, San Antonio Express-News

Source: Texas officials have decided to fire Charlie Strong, Austin American-Statesman 

For Brady, the hard part comes after Obamacare repeal, Houston Chronicle

Are there 3 million ‘criminal aliens’ to deport?, San Antonio Express-News

Today in TribTalk

"This year, Houston was officially designated a "Welcoming City" by a national network of local governments. Rightly so — the Space City has been recognized as one of the most internationally diverse metropolitan areas in the country. Since 2000, Houston has seen a boom in its immigrant population that has been double the national rate."

— Trang-Thu Duong, Houston resident 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Symposium Previewing the 85th Legislature on Nov. 29 at The University of Texas - Texas Union Ballroom

•   A Conversation with Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University on Dec. 1 at The Austin Club

•   San Antonio & the Legislature: A Preview of the 85th on Dec. 2 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

•   A Conversation with Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham & Rep.-elect Hugh Shine on Dec. 8 at Temple College – Arnold Student Union

•   Health Care and the 85th Legislature on Dec. 15 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio - Pestana Lecture Hall

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