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CPRIT Supporters Urge TX House Panel to Approve Overhaul Bill

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

So far this session, lawmakers have berated the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – or CPRIT -- for its handling of some taxpayer-funded grants.

But today, a House panel heard testimony on why the agency is vital to Texans. 

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, spoke to members of the House Public Health Committee about his version of Senate Bill 149. That’s the CPRIT reform bill by State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, that the Senate has already passed.

Rep. Keffer’s version adds more of what he calls “eyes on the process.”

"…Actual staff there, making sure that every rule and regulation is followed, which we did not have in the beginning but we do now," Keffer said. "You know, you live and learn. You learn from those mistakes and make it better."

Keffer says both versions of the bill have a compliance officer and require that grants be posted online for transparency.  

Many people came to support the overhaul bill so that the agency can start giving out money again. A moratorium put CPRIT grants on hold last December. Gary Thompson is with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

"The reason the Society is supportive of CPRIT is because there’s going to be a dollar that funds the research that finds a cure," Thompson said. "And in the case of CPRIT, we have 300 million of those dollars every biennium to spend to find that cure and we just can’t stop."

If the committee approves it, the bill goes next to the full House for a vote.