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February 19, 2003    (512) 463-0300

Averitt Files Legislation to Insure
Working Texans Without Health Insurance

Senator Kip Averitt of Waco
Senator Kip Averitt discusses proposed health insurance legislation for small businesses in a Capitol press conference.

Austin - Senator Kip Averitt of Waco filed proposed legislation today that he says can help small businesses obtain health insurance for their employees. Senate Bill (SB) 10 would allow businesses to combine together as a single entity when negotiating health insurance to allow them to receive the savings that large businesses enjoy. In addition, the bill would provide a two percent tax credit to insurance providers as an incentive to cover previously uninsured persons.

"Insurance companies calculate their rates based upon the number of participants. If we let small businesses combine, we can save them money and ensure that Texans with jobs have health insurance," said Averitt at today's Capitol press conference. Legislators supporting SB 10 include San Antonio Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Victoria Senator Ken Armbrister, Wichita Falls Senator Craig Estes, and The Woodlands Senator Tommy Williams, along with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Governor Rick Perry.

In continued testimony about the budget, the Senate Committee on Finance heard today from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, often referred to as TDCJ. The Lieutenant Governor applauded the agency for working towards freeing four thousand prison beds despite an increasing prison population and a seven percent reduction in their budget this fiscal year. To accomplish this, TDCJ plans to convert a youth facility in Bryan back into a transfer facility for adult inmates, shorten the substance abuse treatment program from nine to six months, and possibly add more than one thousand beds to existing facilities. Dewhurst refuses to support anything that would compromise public safety, saying "We are going to continue to provide for the safety of all Texans."

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, February 20, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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