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April 4, 2007 (512) 463-0300

BILLS MOVING THROUGH PROCESS

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Senator Judith Zaffirini's bill to increase the child safety seat requirements up to children younger than eight or shorter than 4 feet 9 inches was passed by the Senate today.

(AUSTIN) -- With sixty days left in this session, legislation is moving through committee and being passed by the Senate. The Senate approved a bill Wednesday that expands requirements for child safety seats in cars. Senator Judith Zaffirini, author of Senate Bill 60, says that seatbelts designed for adults can still be dangerous for children who are older or taller than the current requirements. Her bill would require that children who are shorter than 57 inches or eight years of age be secured in a child passenger safety seat, up from the current statute of 36 inches in height or five years of age. Parents that don't follow these new regulations could face a $25 fine, but not until one year after the effective date of the bill. Zaffirini says this is because she is more interested in educating parents of the need for booster seats for older children, not punishing them. "A one year grace period will allow the state to inform more families and increase the impact this bill will have on public safety," she said.

The Senate also approved a bill aimed at increasing transparency for public/private partnership contracts for toll roads. Senate Bill 995, by Lewisville Senator Jane Nelson, would require toll project contractors to disclose the financial details of the contract in the newspapers in the areas around the project, and also to hold public hearings before finalizing the contract.

Also Wednesday, Dallas Senator Royce West announced legislation to increase access to counseling services for Iraq veterans. A recent Army study estimates that 16 to 20 percent of Iraq war veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, which can further strain families and make it more difficult for veterans to integrate into society. Senate Bill 1058 would provide an accurate and current database of available counseling services for veterans via the 2-1-1 Information and Referral Network. West said this legislation will help the state pay part of the debt of gratitude it owes to veterans. "it is our duty as a legislative body to protect those who protect us," he said. "Helping our military families survive the aftermath of war is the least we can do for our Texas patriots." West was joined by colleagues and bill co-sponsors Senators Eliot Shapleigh, Leticia Van de Putte, and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa in supporting SB 1058.

The Senate will adjourn for an extended period because of this weekend's holidays, and will reconvene Tuesday, April 10, at 11 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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