The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Lt. Governor Rick Perry expects Senate Bill (SB) 1, the bill ending social promotion, to be debated by the full Senate next week. Social promotion is the practice of promoting students to the next grade although they have not shown proficiency in their current grade level. The bill passed unanimously in the Education Committee yesterday with an amendment by Dallas Senator Royce West, the co-sponsor. The amendment requires the legislature to provide sufficient funding for the programs included in the legislation. Perry has concerns about the language in the amendment, pointing out that what is considered sufficient funding is different to each legislator. Perry thinks the problem can be worked out on the Senate floor before sending the bill to the House of Representatives.
Senators are also discussing whether teacher training should be a requirement. Senate Bill 1 offers voluntary reading expert training and encourages teachers with a financial incentive of $150 per day. Schools must provide the accelerated reading instruction programs to students included in the bill, whether the teachers have completed training or not.
Perry spoke against requiring schools to only hire teachers who have been trained, "All too often we get into problems here trying to make a shoe that fits all feet, a piece of legislation that fits every school district and it causes more problems than it cures."
In a heavily attended press conference today, Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano announced her plan to fight teen drug use. Senators Shapleigh, Lucio, Carona and Lt.Governor Perry were there to show their support. Her program includes parent initiated drug testing, tracking overdoses, enhancing criminal penalties for some drug offenses, and prevention and treatment.
Shapiro said drug use is a problem throughout the state and is getting worse because drugs are cheaper, more potent and more easily accessible. Shapiro says more drugs are coming from Mexico and wants additional federal funds to help the state deal with drug-related border issues. Senators on the special committee for border affairs discussed drug trafficking from Mexico this morning.
Committee Chair Eddie Lucio Jr of Brownsville says, "We don't want to be known as a feeder state for the rest of the nation. We want to be a state that deters drug traffickers, make them go around the state of Texas."
The Senate will reconvene Monday at 1:30 p.m.
- 2/15/99, Monday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
- 2/15/99, Monday - Jurisprudence Committee at 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.012
- 2/15/99, Monday - Special Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber
- 2/16/99, Tuesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
- 2/16/99, Tuesday - Economic Development Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in room 2E.20/Lt. Gov. Cmte. Rm.
- 2/17/99, Wednesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036