Senator Judith Zaffirini Lauds Arrival of Crisis Mental Health Services for Nine Rural Counties

(LAREDO)- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Friday (Nov. 21) joined regional leaders and mental health advocates in celebrating the groundbreaking of a new crisis mental health facility at Camino Real Community Services in Atascosa County.

Camino Real is the authority providing services for persons with mental illnesses and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to nine rural counties, including five in Senate District (SD) 21, namely, Atascosa, Karnes, McMullen, La Salle and Wilson. Other counties served are Dimmit, Frio, Maverick and Zavala.

While Camino Real already has mobile crisis outreach teams that respond to all crisis events in its 10,000 square mile service area, the new facility will add in-patient psychiatric services.

“I am delighted that this facility will provide a local option for persons with mental illnesses who go into psychiatric crisis,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It not only will allow persons with mental illnesses to stay closer to their families, but also will prevent time-consuming and expensive trips to San Antonio and preclude unnecessary hospitalizations.”

The new crisis residential facility under construction in Atascosa County and another in Maverick County each will have four extended observation beds and 16 beds for crisis residential treatment.

Other speakers at the groundbreaking included Camino Real Executive Director Emma Garcia; Judge Donna Rayes, Board Chair; Atascosa County Judge Diana Bautista; and Lytle Mayor Mark Bowen.

Senator Zaffirini is a lifelong champion for mental health services. As a 20-year old student at The University of Texas at Austin, she secured her dream job: working at what was then called the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Alongside significantly older leaders like Mary Elizbeth Holdsworth Butt, Fred Bell, and Helen Farabee, she was at the forefront of the controversial movement to establish and to nurture community MHMR centers, promoting community living instead of institutionalization.

Incredibly, at the age of 22 (1968) she was named to the Board of Directors of the Texas Mental Health Association, the organization from which Mental Health America of Texas evolved, and served as its State Chair for Community Health Services and as State Co-Chair of Legislative Action. She volunteered her time to lobby the Texas Legislature and to testify for MHMR before legislative committees.

A member of the Senate Health and Human Services and Finance committees, she has passed more than 25 bills that specifically improve mental health services for Texans, especially in the community. Her mental health legislation has included bills protecting patients at psychiatric hospitals from abuse and neglect, ensuring safe transportation of persons experiencing mental health crises to appropriate medical facilities and helping prevent child relinquishment for the purpose of obtaining mental health services. Her proudest moments include securing $109.4 million for enhanced adult crisis mental health services in 2009 and her happiest include the elimination in 2013 of waiting lists for mental health services.

She has won more than 10 awards for her advocacy of mental health, including the Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt Award from Mental Health America of Texas.

“I ran for the Senate to champion the needs of those who cannot always advocate for themselves, most especially, persons with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities,” she said. “The development of Camino Real’s crisis mental health facility is an important step forward in ensuring quality, community-based services are available to all Texans.”

In addition to services for persons with mental illnesses and intellectual and developmental disabilities, Camino Real also provides Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services in 12 counties, including seven in SD 21 (Atascosa, Bee, Guadalupe, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen and Wilson). More information about Camino Real can be obtained via http://www.caminorealcs.org/ or 800/491-5201.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI joins leaders and supporters of Camino Real Community Services in celebrating the groundbreaking of a new crisis mental health services facility serving nine counties.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI joins leaders and supporters of Camino Real Community Services in celebrating the groundbreaking of a new crisis mental health services facility serving nine counties.

Senator Judith Zaffirini Swears In Board Members of New Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority

(LAREDO)- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Monday (Nov. 17) administered the oath of office to the initial board members of the new Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority (RMA).

Webb County appointees to the RMA’s board are Carlos Flores, Viviana Frank, Steve LaMantia and Albert Muller Sr. The City of Laredo appointed Enrique Valdez, David Arredondo and José Murillo, and soon will name a fourth appointee. Governor Rick Perry appointed Ruben Soto Jr., who will serve as the board’s Chair.

“These appointees are accomplished community leaders, and I am confident that they will be successful in their challenging new role,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It was my pleasure to administer their oaths of office as they began their official duties as board members of our new RMA.”

Approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in 2014, the new RMA was facilitated by the passage in 2013 of House Bill 1198 by Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, and Senator Zaffirini. The legislation facilitated funding critical local transportation projects contingent upon the creation of an RMA, a local transportation authority that can build, operate and maintain roads and other transportation projects.

“The creation of an RMA will allow Webb County and the City of Laredo to collaborate better in addressing our community’s long-term transportation needs and priorities,” Senator Zaffirini said. “These priorities include improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation system and completing critical projects such as upgrades to Loop 20 and U.S. Highway 59 that will hasten the completion of the future Interstate 69.”

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI administers the oath of office to the new board members of the Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority. They are (L-R) Carlos Flores, Albert Muller Sr., Viviana Frank, José Murillo, Enrique S. Valdez, Steve LaMantia and David Arredondo. Ruben Soto Jr. will chair the RMA.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI administers the oath of office to the new board members of the Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority. They are (L-R) Carlos Flores, Albert Muller Sr., Viviana Frank, José Murillo, Enrique S. Valdez, Steve LaMantia and David Arredondo. Ruben Soto Jr. will chair the RMA.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI administers the oath of office to Ruben Soto Jr., the new chair of the Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority, as new board members Enrique Valdez and David Arredondo observe.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI administers the oath of office to Ruben Soto Jr., the new chair of the Webb County-City of Laredo Regional Mobility Authority, as new board members Enrique Valdez and David Arredondo observe.

 

Senator Judith Zaffirini Celebrates Debut of New Oil and Gas Mobile Classroom at Costal Bend College

(BEEVILLE)- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Thursday (Nov. 13) joined state, local and Coastal Bend College officials in celebrating the debut of the college’s new mobile Process Technology trailer, which will provide hands-on experience for students interested in pursuing careers in the oil and gas industry.

The trailer and equipment will allow CBC to provide top-quality training not only at its campus in Beeville and sites in Alice, Kingsville and Pleasanton, but also at the high schools in fourteen rural counties where the college offers dual-enrollment programs. Students who participate will receive instruction in areas including programmable logic controllers, petroleum instrumentation, oil and gas electricity and electrical power instruction.

“I am delighted that this equipment will help expand higher education opportunities in South Texas and the Coastal Bend,” said Senator Zaffirini. “What’s more, this mobile classroom will allow more high school students to explore careers in the oil and gas industry while gaining valuable hands-on experience and earning college credit.”

The purchase of the trailer and equipment was made possible by a $347,548 grant from the state’s Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant program. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Zaffirini secured $25 million for the program in 2009 and an additional $10 million in 2013.

An organizer of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus and a member of the Energy Council since 2009, Senator Zaffirini has prioritized legislation and funding that address the opportunities and challenges associated with the Eagle Ford Shale, including education and workforce needs.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, joins Texas Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade, Coastal Bend College (CBC) President Beatriz Espinoza and other regional leaders in celebrating the debut of the college's new Process Technology trailer. The mobile classroom will allow CBS to offer its oil and gas technology program to more students in the Eagle Ford Shale region.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, joins Texas Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade, Coastal Bend College (CBC) President Beatriz Espinoza and other regional leaders in celebrating the debut of the college’s new Process Technology trailer. The mobile classroom will allow CBS to offer its oil and gas technology program to more students in the Eagle Ford Shale region.

Senator Judith Zaffirini Hosts Oil and Gas Regulation Open House

State Agency Officials Answer Questions from the Public at Nov. 13 Event

(KENEDY)- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, on Thursday (Nov. 13) hosted constituents at an open house in Kenedy so they could ask state agency officials questions about state laws and regulations impacting the Eagle Ford Shale.

The come-and-go event allowed residents to receive answers from agency experts representing the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; and Texas Department of Transportation.

“As development continues in the Eagle Ford Shale, many Texans have questions about oil and gas regulation, transportation and public safety,” said Senator Zaffirini, an organizer of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus (EFSLC) and a member of the Senate Finance and Natural Resources committees. “As the highest-producing county in the shale, Karnes County is at the epicenter of the energy boom, making it the perfect venue for an open house where the public can interact with agency experts.”

As of Nov. 10 there were 33 rigs operating in Karnes County.

“The production of oil and natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale generated more than $87 billion in total economic output for the state last year,” said Rep. Kleinschmidt, a member of the EFSLC. “Therefore I am committed to continuing to work with the agencies and all my constituents to make certain that this economic surge continues for many generations safely and effectively.”

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI and Avelino “Lino” Garcia of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality visit with a constituent at an open house in Kenedy. An organizer of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus and a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes legislation and funding that address the opportunities and challenges related to development in the shale region.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI and Avelino “Lino” Garcia of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality visit with a constituent at an open house in Kenedy. An organizer of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus and a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes legislation and funding that address the opportunities and challenges related to development in the shale region.

Honoring veterans, today and every day

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers./En la guerra ningun soldado sale ileso.

These poignant words by José Narosky help us understand the tremendous sacrifices made by our country’s military veterans.

These men and women should be foremost in our minds this Veterans Day. Today’s holiday began in 1919 as Armistice Day, which marked the anniversary of the end of World War I, and was expanded in 1954 to honor all veterans.

Texas is home to more than 1.5 million veterans from all walks of life. These brave Americans risk their lives and spend long periods away from their families to protect the freedoms we cherish. Their courage and patriotism are an inspiring testament to our national character.

Narosky’s beautiful words should underscore the importance of supporting our veterans, including by ensuring they have access to education, housing, jobs, and health care. Accordingly, it always is my pleasure to champion their needs in the Texas Senate.

My prayer is that all Texans thank veterans for their service and honor them not only today, but every day.

May God bless our veterans, and God bless Texas!

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI joins Senate District 21 veterans in celebrating "Take a Vet to School Day." She champions the needs of all Texas veterans.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI joins Senate District 21 veterans in celebrating “Take a Vet to School Day.” She champions the needs of all Texas veterans.

Senator Zaffirini Pre-Files 31 Bills for 2015 Legislative Session

Priorities Include Higher Education, Health, Public Safety, and Universal Pre-K

(AUSTIN)—Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today pre-filed the first 31 Senate Bills of the 84th Texas Legislative Session that will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

“My bills were filed early to advance the priorities of Senate District 21 families: early and higher education and health and human services, including for the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Job creation, transportation, the environment and issues related to the Eagle Ford Shale also will be key issues during the 2015 session.”

Of the 31 bills and one joint resolution filed Monday by Senator Zaffirini, 13 relate to higher education; 5, public education; and 2, health and human services. Her bills include the following:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 21, authorizing the issuance of Tuition Revenue Bonds (TRBs) for capital construction projects at Texas colleges and universities
  • SB 22, creating an outcomes-based funding model to provide funding to higher education
  • SB 23, creating universal pre-k for all four-year olds and expanding half-day pre-k to three-year olds that meet at-risk criteria
  • SB 24, enhancing training for university regents
  • SB 25, prohibiting texting while driving statewide
  • SB 26, requiring state agencies to adopt a lactation support policy
  • SB 32, strengthening laws against hazing
  • SB 34, strengthening the state’s cybersecurity efforts
  • SB 36, facilitating access to higher education for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • SB 46, extending the T-STEM scholarship to students who receive it and then transfer to four-year institutions

Bills are numbered chronologically as they are filed, though 1-20 were reserved for the priorities of Lt. Governor-Elect Dan Patrick.

Because hers were the first Senate bills filed for 2015, Senator Zaffirini’s are numbered 21-51.

“My staff and I worked hard throughout the interim and to pre-file some of our bills at the first opportunity,” she said. “We are continuing to collaborate with stakeholders and constituents to craft a legislative agenda that reflects the needs and interests of families in our 18 Senate District 21 counties. We will file additional legislation, especially as we finalize reports developed by the Senate Government Organization Committee, which I chair, and the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which I co-chair.”

Senator Zaffirini has sponsored and passed 795 bills and 52 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 400 bills.

“The 2015 legislative session is fast approaching, and 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,” she said. “Feedback is critical, and some of my best legislation was suggested by constituents.”

Chair of the Government Organization Committee, Senator Zaffirini also serves on the Senate Higher Education, Finance, Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Redistricting and Administration committees. A member of the Energy Council since 2009, she organized the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus in 2012.

“Senate District 21 stretches from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River, and its needs and priority issues are diverse,” she said. “Because of my committee assignments and as the second-highest ranking state senator, I am uniquely positioned to continue to have a positive impact on the issues that matter to SD 21 families.”

SECOND IN SENIORITY in the Texas Senate, Senator Judith Zaffirini champions the priorities of SD 21 families, including higher and early education and health and human services, especially for the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities. Chair of the Government Organization Committee, Senator Zaffirini also serves on the Senate Higher Education, Finance, Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Redistricting and Administration committees.

SECOND IN SENIORITY in the Texas Senate, Senator Judith Zaffirini champions the priorities of SD 21 families, including higher and early education and health and human services, especially for the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities. Chair of the Government Organization Committee, Senator Zaffirini also serves on the Senate Higher Education, Finance, Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Redistricting and Administration committees.