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January 30, 2001     (512) 463-0300

Zaffirini Pledges to Expand
Meningitis Prevention Bill

AUSTIN - Laredo Sen. Judith Zaffirini on Tuesday, January 30, announced that she plans to expand Senate Bill (SB) 31, a bill she pre-filed in November that initially focused on informing college students about bacterial meningitis.

But after hearing from a Texas woman, Frankie Milley, whose son Ryan died of the disease, Zaffirini decided to broaden SB 31 to include Texas children regardless of age.

"You can count on me to work on Senate Bill 31 and to expand it in such a way that information will be provided to all children," Zaffirini said, "and especially to parents and to educators that makes sure that everybody will understand not only that the vaccine is available but especially the symptoms of meningitis."

Bacterial meningitis is a dangerous and sometimes fatal disease which results in inflamation of the meninges, or lining of the brain. Some victims die withing hours of experiencing symptoms, while those who survive can suffer brain and organ damage, deafness, blindness, massive skin damage and amputations.

Milley, who advocates meningitis awareness around the country, said a broadened SB 31 would bolster those efforts.

"We need to protect our children. It's too late for mine, but it's not for everybody else's," Milley said. "Texas can be a leader in the country with this bill if we expand it."

In other Texas Senate news, Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano announced the introduction of her "Statewide Mobility Package," a group of bills addressing transportation issues ranging from commercial truck safety to toll road construction to statewide transportation bonds.

Shapiro was joined by Senators Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso and a group of civic and business leaders that advocates increased spending on state transportation projects.

"We are all here today to ensure that transportation is addressed and addressed properly during the 77th Legislature," Shapiro said. "By surveying the state's transportation needs we very quickly learned that Texas has experienced growth factors that have threatened our once-proud transportation system."

In today's session, the Senate recognized a special guest, Chicago Cubs manager Don Baylor. Baylor is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin and attended Blinn Junior College in Brenham. During his 19-year major-league career, Baylor was an All-Star and American League Most Valuable Player in 1979 and is one of eight players in history with at least 250 home runs and 250 steals in a career. Chosen Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Man of the Year in 1985, Baylor is involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and has worked with the Ronald McDonald House.

The Texas Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 31, 2001.

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