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Tuesday, February 23, 1999     (512) 463-0300

The Texas State Senate News

AUSTIN - Senators passed the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB)19 by Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini, creating a one-year probationary license for nursing facility owners who previously have not conducted business in the state.

Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth addressed the problem of a growing elderly population and a growing nursing home industry, "Our population of elderly is going to explode in the next ten years and Texas is not ready for that, they are not ready for that."

Legislation he sponsored to prepare Texas for these issues passed out of the Committee on Health Services, which is chaired by Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound. Proposals in the committee included the following; CSSB 94 giving consumers access to complaints concerning home health services, CSSB 95 preparing for the aging of the Texas populations by studying issues like affordable housing, and CSSB 96 transferring authority over the licensing, certification, and regulation of home health and community support service agencies to the Department of Human Services.

San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth thinks some Texans are paying too much for car insurance. He filed Senate Bill 600 to get rid of the Texas Auto Manual which currently regulates rates and which he says, places drivers in categories that are too broad so good drivers are paying too much and bad drivers are paying too little. Wentworth is joining other senators this session who say opening markets to competition will benefit Texas consumers. "As much as we take pride in Texas' leadership on many matters," said Wentworth " this is one area where we are behind the times and overdue for reform. We are the only state that still employs such a restrictive system. Most others enjoy the benefits of much more competition."

Some worry that without regulation, prices could increase across the board. But both Wentworth and Representative Harold Dutton of Houston, who is carrying a similar bill in the House, argue that more companies and more competition will benefit consumers.

The Committee on Natural Resources passed Senate Bill 262, as amended, relating to the reimbursement of landowners or developers prior to annexation of a water-related special district. If a municipality, with a population of less than 1.5 million, doesn't reimburse the landowners or developers prior to the effective date of annexation, the sum will collect penalties and interest. The only city that would currently be affected by the measure is the city of Austin.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

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