SENATOR ZAFFIRINI RECEIVES THE ARC OF TEXAS’ 2007 LEADERSHIP AWARD FOR CHAMPIONING PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

AUSTIN AUSTIN — Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Tuesday (March 27) received the 2007 Leadership Award from the Arc of Texas for her outstanding support of and advocacy for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to honoring Senator Zaffirini for her championship of several health, human and social service issues, the Arc of Texas recognized specifically her commitment to eliminate the Medicaid waiver waiting lists and provide greater access to home and community services for persons with disabilities.

“I truly am delighted to receive this significant honor that means so much because I care for and prioritize the mission championed by the Arc of Texas,” Senator Zaffirini said. “I share this award with everyone who cares about promoting independence, achieving full potential and achieving social transformation for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The Leadership Award is the Arc of Texas’ highest honor and is presented each legislative session to a recipient who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities and ensuring that they enjoy independence in the community.
Previous recipients include former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock and former Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff.

“Championing the needs of persons with disabilities has been my life’s work,” Senator Zaffirini said. She traces her volunteer and fundraising efforts to her childhood days, selling peanuts for the March of Dimes and raising money for persons with mental retardation.

Senator Zaffirini has won more than 550 awards for her professional and public service work, including more than 94 for communication projects. Recent awards include being named an honorary nun by the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Ministries of Laredo; honored as “Our Founding Leader in Health Education” by the Mid Rio Grande Border Area Health Education Center (AHEC); the inaugural “Excellence in Patient Advocacy Award” from the Texas Dental Association (TDA) for her leadership in addressing dental issues in the Texas Legislature and the Mirabeau B. Lamar medal from the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities for exceptional service to Texas higher education, beyond service to a single institution.

SENATE PASSES “SCOOTER’S BILL” BY ZAFFIRINI

(AUSTIN)— The Texas Senate today (March 14) unanimously passed Senate Bill 673, known as “Scooter’s Bill,” by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. It would allow students with disabilities who are in individualized education programs (IEP) and who have completed four years of high school to participate in graduation ceremonies and receive attendance certificates.

“It is important that students with disabilities celebrate their accomplishments with their peers and have a sense of closure as their classmates move on and leave campus,” Senator Zaffirini said. “My bill provides students in IEP programs a means to achieve this goal.”

SB 673 is named “Scooter’s Bill” after Gene “Scooter” Long, a Dallas IEP student who was denied participation in his class’s graduation ceremonies by the Dallas Independent School District. The bill calls for a consistent policy throughout Texas. What’s more, it would allow students to continue the IEP program after they participate in commencement ceremonies and would not preclude their receiving high school diplomas upon completing the program.