The laws taking effect this week reflect Senator Zaffirini’s legislative priorities, which include improving public education, higher education and health and human services. 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 Legislative Budget Board and of the Senate Finance, Health and Human Services, Economic Development, Redistricting and Administration committees.
Her legislation includes reducing fraud in the customs broker system (SB 776), improving services for students with visual impairments (SB 54) and protecting victims of stalking (SB 250, HB 1721).
“Despite the budgetary challenges that dominated the legislature, we persevered in passing legislation that benefits all Texans, including bills to help families afford college, ensure quality childcare choices and enhance critical services for persons with disabilities,” Senator Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I am grateful to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives for their support of policies that move Texas forward.”
Senator Zaffirini has sponsored and passed 725 bills and 52 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 384 bills. Her legendary work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. Continuing her career-long 100 percent voting record, she cast her 47,584th consecutive vote in 2011.
Of the 79 bills that Senator Zaffirini passed in 2011, the 33 that will become effective on Sept. 1 are summarized below:
- SB 28 reforms the TEXAS Grant program by prioritizing grants for high-performing, low-income students.
- SB 54 requires a person seeking certification to teach students with visual impairments to complete coursework before sitting for the required certification exam.
- SB 58 authorizes the renaming of State Highways 359, 16 and 285 as the Veterans of the Korean War Memorial Highway.
- SB 209 establishes guidelines and minimum supervision standards for entities who employ juvenile case managers.
- SB 250 allows victims of stalking to obtain protective orders regardless of relationship.
- SB 264 requires workforce boards to provide information on quality child care indicators for each child care provider in the area to better inform the consumer.
- SB 773 extends the telecommunications discount to public schools, libraries, non-profit telemedicine centers, public hospitals and universities.
- SB 776 increases enforcement and closes avenues to fraud in the customs broker system by requiring verification of purchased items and increasing the cost of the export certificate stamp by 50 cents.
- SB 811 enhances the practice of veterinary medicine.
- SB 1449 improves licensing requirements for chemical dependency treatment facilities.
- HB 33 codifies federal law to help bring down the cost of college textbooks.
- HB 114 designates April as Minority Cancer Awareness Month.
- HB 159 allows persons who retire from a municipality to return to work after a break in employment without suspending payment of their pension.
- HB 167 prioritizes the parties authorized to transport patients committed to mental health facilities.
- HB 328 updates Texasonline.com to Texas.gov in tax statute.
- HB 826 requires school districts to appoint an employee to act as a liaison to facilitate enrolling or transferring a foster child.
- HB 848 extends agreements authorizing certain persons to make decisions regarding a child during an investigation of child abuse or neglect.
- HB 871 expands indigent health care services that may be provided by a county.
- HB 1113 facilitates deferred adjudication hearings for minors.
- HB 1206 requires new trustees of community college districts to attend financial training.
- HB 1330 authorizes super-wide tires to be equipped with safety guards or flaps.
- HB 1402 improves law enforcement discipline procedures.
- HB 1481 removes the hurtful slur ‘retarded’ from state statutes and requires state agencies to use respectful language when referencing persons with disabilities.
- HB 1721 allows victims of stalking or sexual assault to obtain protective orders more easily.
- HB 2136 ensures that medical transportation providers meet certain health and safety standards.
- HB 2139 establishes an Adopt-a-Library program to encourage public and private entities to invest in public libraries throughout Texas.
- HB 2396 authorizes the San Antonio Advanced Transportation District to issue revenue bonds backed by proceeds from the sales tax.
- HB 2904 improves the Glenda Dawson Donate Life-Texas Registry.
- HB 2908 improves graduate medical education in Texas.
- HB 2936 streamlines the statutes regarding the duties and authority of the Bexar County courts system.
- HB 3146 modifies consent to treatment provisions at chemical dependency treatment facilities.
- HB 3708 provides for alternative funding mechanisms for the Early High School Graduation program.
- HB 3724 requires implementation of an early detection plan for prevention, early screening, diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease.
Information about these and other new laws is available via www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or the Texas Legislative Reference Library, 512/463-1252.