From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(214) 467-0123
January 30, 2006

7th African American Legislative Summit lineup rounds into shape

DALLAS - As the start of this year's African American Legislative Summit nears, efforts to add more panels, braintrusts and guest presenters continue. The 7th Biennial African American Legislative Summit will take place at the State Capital in Austin, Texas beginning Thursday, Feb. 9, and culminates with a banquet the evening of Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006. State Senators Royce West (D-Dallas) and Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) will host the three-day conference.

The Summit is designed to gather input, discuss current issues and changes in law and how those changes and issues impact African Americans in Texas. During the Summit, attendees are able to speak and ask questions directly to legislators and state officials on their issues of interest.

"In looking forward to the 2007 Session, if we wish to have both a seat and a say at the table in the debate of what's important to Texans, the time to start forming those ideas is now," said Senator West. We can't wait until next January or even November to begin crafting what will be our legislative package. This Summit will also provide our constituents an opportunity to gain additional insight just months before we enter another Special Session on public school finance."

A panel added to Saturday's itinerary will provide attendees an analysis on the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in the state's school finance case. State experts and legislators will discuss strategies on school funding that could be part of a Special Session slated for this Spring. A third panel devoted to criminal justice has been added. "Issues in Innocence: Problems with Crime Labs and the Implications for Criminal Justice Reform" will focus on problems with criminal evidence testing procedures that first surfaced in 2002.

"We are bringing together some of the nation's leading experts, elected officials, and exonorees to discuss solutions to problems facing our crime labs," said Senator Ellis. "Texans deserve to have faith that our crime labs use quality forensic procedures designed to convict the guilty and protect the innocent. When bad forensics sends innocent people to prison, we jeopardize that public faith and the integrity of our entire criminal justice system."

Saturday Morning's Prayer Breakfast will feature nationally-known author, pastor and founder of Destiny Ministries, the Reverend Dr. Claudetta Copeland of the New Creation Christian Fellowship in San Antonio as its speaker. The Prayer Breakfast and banquet take place at the Capitol Marriott, just blocks from the State Capitol where all Summit panels and braintrusts are held.

A Friday session that examines the implications of changes in Texas' growing population will feature State Demographer, Dr. Steve Murdock of UT - San Antonio and Dr. Sarah Williams of Prairie View A&M University. Early registration for the African American Legislative Summit has already begun. Registration information is included in an electronic preliminary agenda that is available upon request.

For more information on the 7th Biennial African American Legislative Summit, please call the offices of State Senator Royce West at 214-467-0123 or 512-463-0123 or the offices of State Senator Rodney Ellis at 713-236-0306 or 512-463-0113.