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February 25, 2003     (512) 463-0300

Senate Authorizes Spending of $2.5 Million in Federal Funds for Medically Deserving Children

Austin - The Senate Finance Committee has authorized the spending of $2.5 million in federal funds for the Children with Special Health Care Needs program for 2003. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said that the Senate has concurred with the House and will be meeting with Governor Rick Perry shortly to implement the program to add 150 chronically medically deserving youngsters. Dewhurst said that the rest of the $4 million reserved for the program will be earmarked for needy children in 2004.

In response to the recent nightclub tragedies in Chicago and Rhode Island, Dewhurst told reporters on Monday that he wants to ensure the safety of all Texans and make certain that similar tragedies do not occur in this state. The Lieutenant Governor said that he has asked the Senate Committee on State Affairs to conduct a review of existing laws and regulations protecting citizens in entertainment and other public facilities. In a letter addressed to the chairman of the committee, he wrote that he is particularly concerned about laws relating to fire safety, including the use of indoor pyrotechnics.

In committee news, the Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony Monday on Senate Bill (SB) 319, which would allow for the prosecution of a third party in the wrongful death of a fetus. Victoria Senator Ken Armbrister, sponsor of the bill, said that SB 319 "no way involves itself in the abortion debate." Witnesses representing both sides of the abortion debate testified in favor of the proposed legislation. Dr. Michael Love, an obstetrician and gynecologist from Austin, testified that SB 319 is a win-win situation that provides recourse for parents and gives further protection to physicians, unless the death can be attributed to negligence.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, February 26, 2003, at 11:00 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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