Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Friday, February 24, 2004
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, (512) 463-0113

Summit panels promise to explore Texas' most debated issues

AUSTIN, TX -- The 2003 legislative session was a unique year in Texas politics. The Texas Legislature faced the divisive issues of Congressional redistricting and the largest budget deficit in recent memory. In addition, the Legislature continued its discussion on how to pay for public education. These topics and more will be discussed during the 6th Biennial African American Legislative Summit which takes place February 26-28 in Austin, Texas at the State Capital.

"I hope that this year's Summit will educate the public as what the Texas Legislature did last session," said State Senator Rodney Ellis. Senators Rodney Ellis and Royce West will co-host the Summit. "Many issues that we addressed in Austin will have far-reaching effects on people's lives and choices for many years to come. The Summit will bring together stakeholders from many different issues and walks of life and the Summit is a perfect opportunity learn about Texas government."

"Only the most seasoned legislators have seen the likes of what took place in Austin last year," said State Senator Royce West. "In one legislative session, we faced insurance reform, the reorganization of the state's healthcare agencies and decided to deregulate tuition for Texas' colleges and universities. Some of us have a remaining ax to grind concerning Congressional redistricting and in just a few weeks, I fully anticipate returning to Austin for a Special Session; this time related to public school finance. Citizens of Texas have a golden opportunity to receive firsthand information about these topics - and many others - during the Summit."

"It has been a privilege of mine over the years to participate in the African American Legislative Summit," said Ron Kirk, a former Dallas Mayor and Texas Secretary of State. "Royce West is a close friend and together we worked to improve the lives of the citizens of Dallas during my time as mayor. I've known Rodney Ellis dating back to our days in law school at the University of Texas. I applaud both these men in their efforts to keep our people informed. Texas is changing and becoming more diverse by the day. The political climate is also moving in a different direction and it is vitally important that change does not leave us behind. I look forward to the exchange of ideas provided by the Summit."

The Summit begins with Thursday's Spot Bid Contract Fair to be held at the University of Texas' Frank Erwin Center. Panels start Friday and Former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun will speak Friday afternoon. Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee will take part in Saturday discussions. All events are open to the public. Event registration includes banquet attendance.