Texas magazines honor Zaffirini with “10 Best” & “Lord’s Work” Awards

(AUSTIN) — Texas Monthly named Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, one of Texas’ “10 Best Legislators” this week, and the Texas Observer honored her with the “People’s Friend: Lord’s Work Award.”

“I appreciate these awards and share them with all who partnered in our success,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Each award reflects continual and effective collaboration with Senate colleagues; my hard-working staff; and many advocates, constituents, volunteers and leaders.”

This is the fourth time that Texas Monthly includes Senator Zaffirini on its “10 Best” list. It also included her in 2005, 2001 and 1997; gave her the “Bull of the Brazos” award in 2009 and an “Honorable Mention” in 2003.

The article describes Senator Zaffirini as the “key player” on the Medicaid panel and cites her “encyclopedic knowledge of the health and human services budget” and her ability to persuade her colleagues.

The only woman and one of only three Democrats named to the 2011 list, Zaffirini also was recognized for her effectiveness in impacting higher education policy in the Republican-dominated legislature: “All session long she waged a two-front war against two of the most powerful men in the Capitol—Rick Perry and Steve Ogden—and somehow managed to remain standing.”

Senator Zaffirini also was among 10 legislators honored by the Texas Observer as “People’s Friends.” She was singled out for the “Lord’s Work Award” because of her advocacy on behalf of the very old, the very young and persons with disabilities. “During debates, she wields facts like knives,” the article notes. “Few lawmakers in the Capitol fight for vulnerable Texans with Zaffirini’s skill and tenacity.”

The Observer praised Senator Zaffirini’s work on the Senate Finance Committee, where she championed minimizing the impact of harmful budget cuts on Texas families.

“Zaffirini ended up voting against the budget, and who can blame her?”, asked the Observer. “We know that–had it not been for her work–those cuts likely would have been far deeper.”

The senator has won more than 650 awards for her professional and public service work. Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, she is Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee; Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency; and a member of the Senate Finance, Administration, Economic Development, Health and Human Services and Redistricting committees. She also serves on the Legislative Budget Board.

“Because of the severe budget shortfall, the 82nd Texas Legislative Session was the most challenging session in memory,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Nevertheless, we built a strong foundation from which we can expect to accomplish even more, particularly for those whose causes we champion.”

Written by Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka and Senior Editor Nate Blakeslee, “The Best & Worst Legislators” article can be read via http://www.texasmonthly.com/2011-07-01/feature.php. The Texas Observer‘s legislative coverage is available online via http://www.texasobserver.org/floor-pass.

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