Senator Zaffirini Pre-Files 44 Bills for 2011 Legislative Session

Priorities Include Jobs, Education, Public Safety, Health

(AUSTIN)—Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today pre-filed the first 44 Senate Bills of the 82nd Texas Legislative Session that will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

“My bills reflect the priorities of the families of Senate District 21: creating jobs, improving educational opportunities and treating our neighbors with dignity and respect,” Senator Zaffirini said. “With Texas facing a significant budget shortfall, we must emphasize efficiency and accountability in state government, while maintaining our commitment to higher education and to the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities.”

Of the 44 bills filed Monday by Senator Zaffirini, 10 relate to higher education; 14, health and human services; and 6, public education. Others focus on areas ranging from veterans services and government transparency to job training and public safety. Her bills include the following:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 26, which would eliminate the use of the hurtful word “retarded” in state statutes and agency names.
  • SB 27, which would require school districts to develop policies that protect children at risk of food allergies.
  • SB 28, which would prioritize financial aid for high-achieving students who need help paying for college.
  • SB 34, which would establish the Texas Women Veterans Program to address the specific needs of women veterans.
  • SB 36, which would enhance college advising, thereby increasing student success.
  • SB 38, which would make for-profit colleges subject to the state’s accountability system, thereby protecting students seeking alternative higher education pathways.
  • SB 39, which would improve the children’s health insurance (CHIP) and Medicaid programs.
  • SB 41, which would protect persons with disabilities.
  • SB 42, which would protect children from cyber-bullying.
  • SB 43, which would protect persons with mental illnesses.
  • SB 46, which would prohibit texting while driving, thereby increasing safety on Texas’ roadways.
  • SB 51, which would expand career and technical education in rural areas.
  • SB 52, which would limit sales tax on college textbooks.
  • SB 57, which would improve the standard of care for persons with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
  • SB 59, which would allow easier tracking of political contributions and expenditures, thereby promoting transparency in government.
  • SB 68, which would reform state agency contracting practices, thereby increasing efficiency.

“I look forward to working with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues to pass these and other bills critical to moving Texas forward,” Senator Zaffirini said.

Bills are numbered chronologically as they are filed, though 1-25 were reserved by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for his priorities, which include education, higher education, and health and human services.

Because hers were the first Senate bills filed for 2011, Senator Zaffirini’s are numbered 26-30 and 32-71. SB 31 was reserved for the decennial redistricting bill.

“My staff and I worked purposefully during the interim to reach out to our 17 Senate District 21 counties and craft a legislative agenda that reflects the needs of South Texas families,” she said. “We look forward to filing additional bills, especially as we finalize the interim report developed by the Senate Higher Education Committee, which I chair.”

Senator Zaffirini has passed 648 bills since 1987, including 65 during the 2009 session. She also has sponsored and passed 52 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 365 bills.

“Constituent feedback is essential to my meeting my top priority in the Texas Senate: improving the lives of the families of our district and of our great state,” she said. “Some of my best bills were suggested by constituents. Accordingly, I urge anyone interested in the legislative process to contact me or my staff so that we can consider any suggestions for improvement or additional legislation.”

Senator Zaffirini is Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and a member of the Legislative Budget Board and the Senate Finance, Economic Development, Health and Human Services, Administration and Redistricting Committees.

“Count on me to continue to prioritize early and higher education; health and human services, including for persons with disabilities; job creation; and public safety,” she said. “Because of my committee assignments and because I am the second-highest ranking state senator, I am uniquely positioned to continue to have a positive impact on these issues.”

Senator Zaffirini Announces Funding for George West Storyfest, Praises Nov. 6 Event as Cultural, Economic Asset

(GEORGE WEST)– Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, announced today
(Wednesday) that the George West Storyfest Association will receive $11,500 in
grant funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA). The 2010 Storyfest
is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6.

“The George West Storyfest is not only a great draw for visitors, but also a boon to
the local economy and a wonderful opportunity for family fun,” Senator Zaffirini
said. “I encourage families from Live Oak County and across the state to attend
and to enjoy this delightful celebration of Texas’ fine storytelling traditions.”

Grants from TCA support programs throughout Texas that stimulate the economy,
promote education and attract tourists to the state. All grant recipients are required
to make a minimum dollar-for-dollar match to receive state funding. Including
funding awarded during the previous fiscal year, the George West Storyfest
Association has received $22,750 from TCA.

“I am delighted that TCA invested anew in the George West Storyfest,” Senator
Zaffirini said. “These funds will help bring storytellers to underserved rural schools
and support efforts to market the event to a wider audience, thereby bringing more
visitors to Live Oak County.”

Information about TCA’s grant categories and application process is available at
www.arts.state.tx.us.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI enjoys visiting with constituents in Live Oak County. A member of the Senate Economic Development Committee, she prioritizes passing legislation and securing funding that aid small businesses and promote local arts and cultural events.

Senator Zaffirini Announces Funding for Zavala County Improvements

(AUSTIN) —Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, announced today (Monday) that
Zavala County will receive a $500,000 grant from the Texas Community
Development Block Grant Program (TxCDBG). The grant will allow Zavala
County to contract for the construction of a wastewater lines for approximately 283
households in the northern area of La Pryor.

“The Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA) was established to administer
these funds and to provide this critical recovery support to local communities,”
Senator Zaffirini said. “I am delighted that Zavala County will benefit from
enhanced wastewater infrastructure, thereby improving greatly public health and
safety for Zavala constituents.”

TxCDBG is administered by TDRA for the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI enjoys visiting with constituents in Zavala County. A member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, she prioritizes securing funding and passing legislation to improve infrastructure and enhance quality of life for local families.