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Monday, March 1, 1999     (512) 463-0300

The Texas State Senate News

AUSTIN - Diversity in Texas became the focus on the floor as senators debated the confirmation of nominees selected by the governor to sit on the University of Texas (UT) System Board of Regents. Dallas Senator Royce West's personal privilege speech about the lack of an African American nominee spawned a discussion about race and the best way to include minorities. West says he supports each of them individually but on matter of principal he could not support the group.

West said, "It would seem to me that if we're going to make sure that these young black kids and brown kids have an opportunity to succeed they should be able to have something to succeed to and for. We should send a message that these little kids have just as much right to expect, when they grow up, they are considered to sit on a board like the University of Texas."

Only one African American has ever served on the UT Board of Regents, Zan Holmes who was appointed by former Governor Ann Richards.

West was joined in personal privilege remarks by Senators Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Rodney Ellis of Houston, and John Whitmire of Houston. Senate Nominations Committee Chair Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, mentioned that the Senate had just confirmed the first African American to serve on the Texas Park and Wildlife Commission moments before the debate began. All three nominees to the UT Board of Regents--Woody L. Hunt of El Paso, Charles Miller of Houston, and Raul R. Romero of Houston were confirmed by the Senate. West was the only senator voting against the nominations.

Texas senators celebrated the achievements of Cesar Chavez, a farm worker leader who fought for the rights of migrant workers. The Finance Committee passed Senate Bill 107 designating March 31 as an optional holiday for state employees in honor of Cesar Chavez. Bill sponsor Senator Carlos F. Truan stated, "We need to understand that in this country, Cesar Chavez stands head and shoulders as the outstanding civil rights leader in this country. The Hispanic who has captured the conscience of this nation."

The Senate also passed Senate Bill (SB) 61, sponsored by San Antonio Senator Frank Madla, requiring parental consent and written notification for a minor to get a body piercing. The bill also regulates body piercing facilities, requiring that they have a license from the Texas Department of Health to operate and authorizing inspections.

The Senate stands recessed until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 2, for Local and Uncontested Calendar, and upon conclusion, adjourned until 10:00 a.m. for the full Senate.

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