E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
Tomorrow marks the end of the legislative session, but we are still hard at work. We have been working long hours had we are trying to accomplish as much as possible before the session ends.
I have been appointed by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to help resolve the differences between the House and the Senate version on twenty-seven bills. The committees are composed of five members from each house and we have issued a report to be considered for approval by both houses.
Some of the more notable bills I served on conference for include:
Senate Bill 8, authored by Sen. Janek, requires random steroid testing of high school students participating in UIL-sponsored and UIL-sanctioned athletic competitions.
Senate Bill 9, authored by Sen. Shapiro, requires a national criminal history background check for all certified public school employees. Individuals who have been convicted for a Title 5 felony offense or a sex offense when the victim of the crime was a child, a primary or secondary school student would be prohibited from employment with a public school district.
Senate Bill 218, authored by Sen. Carona, requires certain educational units that operate after-school child-care programs to follow the same regulations as currently regulated programs in an effort to ensure the safety and welfare of our children.
Senate Bill 1058, authored by Sen. West, and co-authored by me, requires the adjutant general's department to develop a referral program to provide referrals to service members for reintegration services. This bill will help soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Senate Bill 1562, authored by Sen. Hinojosa, is related to animal control officer training. Currently, no mandatory training is required for animal control officers in Texas. This bill would require animal control officers to receive basic training and continue education, in order to ensure responsible behavior by all animal control officers.
Senate Bill 1879, authored by Sen. Williams, and co-authored by me relates to the regulation of controlled substances. Because of the rise of prescription drug abuse throughout the country and the law, many states have begun using prescription drug monitoring programs to prevent the misuse of pharmaceuticals. This bill extends such monitoring and establishes administrative penalties for noncompliance.
House Bill 1270, authored by Rep. Eissler, and of which I am a Senate sponsor, requires the commissioner of education to establish a pilot program in which a participating campus provides intensive reading and language intervention to participating students.
House Bill 2960, authored by Rep. Smithee, relates to operation of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the Texas FAIR Plan Association, including funding of coverage for certain catastrophic events through the issuance of public securities. This bill creates a system that does not excessively expose the state's general revenue to hurricane losses while at the same time allows for strong, sustainable economic growth along the coast by making necessary insurance coverage available.
Tonight the Senate passed Conference Committee Report House Bill 109, authored by Representative Turner and sponsored by Senator Averitt and myself. House Bill 109 will reinstate a comprehensive Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) package appropriate for Texas children by restoring CHIP; thereby eliminating the barriers that families have encountered when applying or renewing their applications for coverage.
More than 46 million Americans are living without health insurance and nine million of them are children. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured families in the nation, with 31.2 percent and 27 percent of our children have no health insurance.
It is neither prudent nor efficient as a state to leave federal dollars that we can draw down on the table for other states to use. While it was my hope to fully restore CHIP, the Texas legislature is finally doing right by Texas children, in going a long way towards returning CHIP to its original design. I will continue to fight for CHIP and it remains my goal to one day achieve insurance coverage for all Texas children.
I will send you a final update on the 80th legislative session this week. I ask that you continue to participate in the legislative process by always communicating your concerns so that, together, we can make sound policy decisions.
HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6605 - fax