Senator Bob Deuell
Texas Senate, District 2
P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711

DATE: May 21, 2003
CONTACT: Don T. Forse, Jr.
(512) 463-0102

Deuell Passes Bio-terrorism Legislation

AUSTIN -- On Tuesday, May 21, legislation aimed at giving health officials quarantine authority in the event of a bio-terrorist attack was signed in the Texas House of Representative and Texas Senate.

House Bill 627 was authored by State Rep. Elvira Reyna (R-Mesquite) and sponsored in the Texas Senate by Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville).

Rep. Reyna said recent world events make this kind of legislation necessary.

"Since 9/11, the world forces us to consider possibilities that have never before occurred to us," Reyna said. "One of those considerations, is the use of deadly chemicals that might be used by terrorists. Texas must be prepared should an attack of this nature take place. We are forced to think about the unthinkable."

Sen. Deuell, a practicing family physician, said Texas needs to be prepared for the type of attack this bill addresses.

"The Commissioner of Health and other health authorities currently have the ability to quarantine an area in the event of an outbreak of communicable disease," Deuell said. "Recent developments with terrorist threats highlighted the fact that we do not currently have that authority in the event of a bio-terrorist attack."

"Hopefully we will never need this authority," Deuell said. "But it is important that Texas be prepared."

Reyna, who chairs the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee, says Texas needs a system that will allow for a quick and effective response.

"We must reduce the vulnerability of the state and arm health officials with the needed authority to act promptly should a bio-terrorist attack occur," Reyna said. "We need a system in place at the local, county and state level that ensures a quick and effective response to a bioterrorist attack. This law does exactly that, it reinforces our preparedness."

The legislation will now be sent to the Governor's office for his consideration and signature.