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Wednesday, March 10, 1999     (512) 463-0300

AUSTIN - In a well attended press conference today, Lt. Governor Rick Perry declared that Texas should be tougher on drunk drivers. At today's press conference, the family of four teenagers killed by a drunk driver say the reason is clear.

Perry stated, "I think Texans are tired of seeing stories like these on the front pages of our newspapers. They're ready to deal with, send a clear message to those individuals who drink and then drive on Texas highways that we're not going to accept that."

Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee agree with the Lt. Governor. Today, the committee voted unanimously on Senate Bill (SB) 114 to crack down on drunk driving by lowering the blood alcohol content from .10 to .08 percent and to increase civil and criminal consequences for driving drunk. Perry says the threat of losing federal highway funding and the safety of Texans are two reasons to support the change. Galena Park Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr. sponsored the legislation.

Legislation requiring parental consent and notification when minors want an abortion passed out of the Human Services Committee. Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound sponsored the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 27 requiring parental consent. Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano sponsored CSSB 30 requiring parental notification.

Bill supporters say parents have a right to know when their daughters are about to undergo any major surgical procedure. Nelson said, "We must not let the emotion surrounding the abortion issue interfere with making a sound decision on the fundamental elements of Senate Bill 27 which are the rights of parents and the health of our daughters."

Opponents of the bill, including Senators Mario Gallegos, Jr. of Galena Park and David Bernsen of Beaumont, voiced concern about minors safety. Both voted against the legislation. Senator Gallegos worried some minors could be punished for telling their parents about a pregnancy. The bills include a judicial bypass clause that allows a judge to decide whether a minor is mature enough to make the decision on her own. The committee also passed SB 65 by Nelson requiring counseling before an abortion is performed, informing patients about the abortion procedure and medical risks.

Waco Senator David Sibley wants more tax credits for business. CSSB 5 offers a research and development tax credit and targets needy areas that Sibley says should benefit from the state's economic boom, "We don't want to leave anyone behind. I think it's critical in the State of Texas that everybody feel like they're part of the dream and they can be a part of this economy. "

Many of the 92 counties with above average unemployment and below state average income are along the border and in East Texas. Sibley says these incentives are necessary for Texas to compete nationally and internationally for jobs. The bill was left pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow, Thursday, March 11, at 10:00 a.m.

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