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Wednesday, February 17, 1999     (512) 463-0300
photo: Sweetwater Jaycees demonstrate their 'wrangling' techniques, which will be used at the 41st Annual Rattlesnake Round Up in March, with a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, in the State Capitol Outdoor Rotunda
Sweetwater Jaycees demonstrate their 'wrangling' techniques, which will be used at the 41st Annual Rattlesnake Round Up in March, with a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, in the State Capitol Outdoor Rotunda.

The Texas State Senate News

AUSTIN - Senators David Sibley of Waco and Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay are sponsoring legislation to lower the costs of intrastate long distance telephone calls. Southwestern Bell's current access rates are more than 11 cents and will be reduced in phases to six cents by Senate Bill (SB) 560. Rates could begin dropping as early as this summer if the bill passes. Both senators consider this a step toward opening the market to further competition. This bill also extends the price cap on local rates for Southwestern Bell and GTE until 2003.

Fraser said a study by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) this past summer determined that current costs are higher than they need to be, "We're going to determine what is fair for the consumer to pay but also what is fair for Bell to try to receive and they're the one that is most affected."

Lt. Governor Rick Perry plans to refer the bill to the Committee on Economic Development which is chaired by Sibley. Perry has asked Sibley to then refer it to the Subcommittee on Technology and Business Growth which is chaired by Fraser.

LaPorte Senator Mike Jackson held his first press conference as a state senator today to discuss SB 565. The proposed legislation creates a law enforcement unit to target violent sex offenders statewide who have been released back into the community. Jackson said the Sex Offender Compliance Unit will cost up to $2 million annually, but will be paid for with fees collected from criminals convicted of a felony.

In committee action today, the Senate Education Committee passed five bills, including SB 260 by Committee Chair Teel Bivins of Amarillo. This bill allows the expulsion of a public school student who assaults a school employee and causes bodily injury. Texas schools are continuing to have difficulty keeping experienced teachers in the classroom. In addition to pay increases, teachers are seeking improvements in the working conditions.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, February 18, at 10:00 a.m.

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