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May 9, 2007 (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATION FILED TO ADDRESS STUDENT LOAN ISSUE

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Senators Rodney Ellis (left) and Dan Patrick discuss amendments to Ellis' bill requiring 3 feet of space between a passing car and a bicycle.

(AUSTIN) -- Senator Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso announced Wednesday that he filed legislation aimed at ending conflicts of interest in student loans for college. A recent investigation by the Attorney General of New York revealed that some college financial aid loan officers owned stock options in some of the companies listed on those institutions preferred lender list. This included one official at the University of Texas at Austin.

Shapleigh said this practice created an inherent conflict of interest that ultimately hurts students. "Students have had their trust betrayed by loan officers and institutions that have adopted this practice in the State of Texas," he said. Shapleigh's bill would prohibit any person involved in the student loan process at a public or private institution of higher learning in Texas from accepting any gift, including stock options or value, from a student loan company. He acknowledged that with the end of session approaching, this bill's best chance for approval is as an amendment to another bill.

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Senator Chris Harris of Arlington lays out a bill that would create a new funding authority in Tarrant County.

The Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would prevent the disclosure to the public of who holds a concealed weapon license in Texas. Under current law, the Department of Public Safety can disclose who has such a license if requested. House Bill 991, sponsored by Greenville Senator Robert Deuell, would make this information accessible only to law enforcement officials. This bill now heads to the Governor's desk for final approval.

Also passed Wednesday was a bill directed at installing new leadership at Texas Southern University. After findings of fiscal mismanagement by university officials, Governor Rick Perry wanted to install a conservator to oversee reforms at TSU. Lawmakers learned, however, that such a move could impact the accreditation of the university. While it is intended for use at TSU, the bill passed Wednesday gives the Governor another option for correcting mismanagement at any state agency. "One size fits all does not work for every state agency," said bill author and TSU alumnus Senator Rodney Ellis. His bill allows for the creation of a five member governing board, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. This board would develop a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the agency under its charge, with specific benchmarks to demonstrate progress. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said the Senate could be considering nominees for a new governing board at TSU as early as next Monday.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 10, at 8 a.m. to consider the local and uncontested calendar, and will meet in regular session 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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