Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Kel Seliger, District 31

For Immediate Release
May 31, 2005
Contact: Christy Bertolino
(806) 374-8994

Seliger's First Session a Success for the Citizens of Senate District 31

AUSTIN, Texas --Monday State Senator Kel Seliger completed his first regular session in the Texas Senate, as the 79th Legislature adjourned Sine Die, literally "without a day" available to reconvene in another session. Over the last 140 days, Seliger filed and sponsored over 75 bills, 50 of which were passed in one form or another by the Legislature. Most of these bills now only await approval by the Governor before becoming law. "This has been a good session for the 31st Senatorial District. The successes have come mostly from working with people, businesses and school districts," Seliger said.

The Legislature passed several important measures specifically targeted to benefit the communities in the Panhandle region of Senate District 31.

In response to concerns from the citizens of Amarillo about overburdened courts, Seliger passed House Bill 597 to create an additional County Court at Law for Randall County. To complement those efforts, Seliger also passed House Bill 596, related to residency requirements for municipal judges to allow for more part-time judges to assist with the increasingly crowded docket in Randall County. Finally, House Bill 595 will allow Randall County Courts at Law to accept pleas in uncontested matters, streamlining the administration of justice in Randall County. "These bills should save taxpayers money, and hopefully, make a little money in the long run through this improved efficiency in the county courts," Seliger added.

As Vice-Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Seliger addressed several concerns raised by law enforcement agencies across District 31. Senator Seliger passed House Bill 2577 requiring local law enforcement agencies to report to the state the reason for a peace officer's termination to protect the integrity of the state's law enforcement officers. This legislation will help prevent those peace officers with a history of poor performance or unethical behavior, termed "gypsy cops," from taking advantage of police departments that lack the resources to investigate their employment history. Finally, Seliger sponsored House Bill 1048 to allow law enforcement to seize vehicles used in the unlawful transport of illegal aliens, an escalating concern throughout Texas and the Panhandle. "Effective law enforcement is a priority of everyone and these bills add to that effort," Seliger said.

Seliger's membership on the Senate Natural Resources Committee aided him in passing several important bills approved for West Texas. House Bill 2161 ensures that effective pipeline safety standards are in place for all construction work around oil and gas pipelines. It also establishes a program to safely address abandoned or orphaned oil and gas wells and includes considerations for potential future periods of decline in oil and gas prices. Additionally, House Bill 951 will establish a notice and remediation process for construction around pipelines. Finally, in response to concerns from West Texas communities about increasing waste disposal costs, Senator Seliger passed House Bill 1609 to allow local landfills in arid areas to accept the necessary amounts of municipal and construction waste. "As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, I believe that regulation is not inconsistent with efficiency and industrial development," Seliger added.

Additional highlights of the 79th Legislature include the passage of other legislation that will positively impact District 31. House Bill 3195 was passed to allow municipalities to combine related sales tax ballots for increased efficiency in local government. Also, Seliger worked to ensure that Senate Bill 1257, a motor carrier safety bill, included a provision that would prohibit the use of wireless communication devices by the youngest class of new drivers within the first six months of receiving their drivers license. This provision originated from a bill initially introduced by Seliger. Finally, Seliger amended House Bill 2120 to include a provision that allows defendants confined in one county to register a plea via teleconference to the county in which they were charged.

Seliger is looking forward to returning to the district in the interim to update his constituents further about his experiences in the 79th Legislature, adding, "It is a great honor to represent the people of West Texas, from the Permian Basin to the Panhandle. I look forward to getting home and working with them toward the next session."