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May 20, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES BILL TO PROMOTE ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH

Sen. Nelson
Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound won passage of a bill Wednesday aimed at improving collaboration between scientists working on adult stem cell research.

(AUSTIN) — Scientists working on adult stem cell research would be able to collaborate more easily under a bill approved by the Senate Wednesday. SB 73, by Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson, would create a framework to promote cooperation between organizations involved in finding medical cures through adult stem cell treatments. "Adult stem cell research has already yielded treatments for about 70 diseases," said Nelson "Through this new structure, our universities can more easily pool resources, pool information and promote this life-saving research."

Also approved by the Senate Wednesday was a bill to help ex-convicts move back into society after their release. HB 1711, sponsored by Criminal Justice Committee Chair Senator John Whitmire, would direct the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to create a comprehensive reentry and rehabilitation program for the more than 70,000 inmates released from Texas prisons each year. Under the bill, the goal of reintegration would begin as an inmate enters prison. Officials would assess each incoming offender to determine what skills the inmate would need to develop to have the opportunity to be successful upon release back into the community. TDCJ would be required to develop programs to teach inmates life-skills training, like money management, nutrition and exercise, as well as education programs, employment training, substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, and parenting classes.

The bill also emphasizes family unity as a vital component of successful reentry into society. TDCJ would have to look at visitation and phone policies to determine how they impact how inmates can maintain contact with their children. The agency would also have to house an inmate in a facility close to his or her family, if possible. The bill would also direct TDCJ to conduct studies every two years, to determine how well the reentry programs reduce recidivism and promote family unity.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 21 at 8 a.m. to consider local and uncontested bills, and will convene 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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