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Friday, March 12, 1999     (512) 463-0300

WEEK IN REVIEW


AUSTIN - Legislation offering health insurance for younger Texans through the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, passed unanimously out of the Senate Thursday, March 11. The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 445, as amended on the Senate floor, covers children of Texans who make too much money to qualify for medicaid but cannot afford health insurance. It focuses on a health plan for certain low income children. In Texas, 1.4 million children, or one in four, do not have health insurance.

Bill sponsor Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth said, "It's seldom you're able to do something in this legislative process that's going to affect so many lives. And it's a tremendous responsibility to make sure that you do it right." The federal government will also help the state pay for the program, providing three federal dollars for each state dollar.

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus celebrated the passage of children's health insurance legislation in a press conference Thursday, but said it is not enough. They say the Legislature should focus their attention--and money--on issues like higher education, child care and teacher pay not tax cuts. They expect tax cut legislation to appear sometime next week.

Lt. Governor Rick Perry declared that Texas should be tougher on drunk drivers at a press conference on Wednesday, March 10. Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee agreed, passing legislation later in the day strengthening the laws against driving drunk. The committee passed Senate Bill (SB) 114, by Galena Park Senator Mario Gallegos Jr., lowering the blood alcohol content from .10 to .08 percent. Other bills voted out of committee 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 changes.

Victims of domestic violence would have greater protections under legislation passed in the Senate Tuesday, March 9. Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson sponsored the bills which are part of her plan to increase protection for victims and penalties for abusers. SB 23 extends an emergency protection order, giving victims more time to get a permanent order. SB 50 extends a protective order to five years and makes it easier for victims to receive an extension. CSSB 461, allows a judge to require a person convicted of family violence to help fund women's shelters as a condition of probation.

Other legislation passed this week includes: CSSB 306, by Lucio, makes it more difficult for people convicted of a felony to get out on bail while waiting to appeal their case; SB 262, as amended, by Brown, requires that a municipality reimburse landowners or developers prior to the effective date of annexation for existing public improvements. In cases of dispute, the money would be kept in escrow until the amount is verified; SB 152, by West, makes the escape of a high-risk inmate from a juvenile correctional facility a third degree felony. Currently, it is only a misdemeanor; and CSSB 107, by Truan, designating March 31 an optional state holiday in honor of farm worker leader Cesar Chavez.

In committee action this week, legislation requiring parental consent and notification when minors want an abortion passed out of the Human Services Committee. Nelson sponsored CSSB 27 requiring parental consent. Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano sponsored CSSB 30 requiring parental notification. Legislation opening the electric utility market to competition, CSSB 7, passed out of the Senate Special Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring Monday, March 8. Legislators are trying to work out a proposal designed to benefit consumers with more options and lower prices, while protecting electric companies from losing their investments. A bill placing a cap on public assistance to people, who continue to have children while on welfare, SB 64 by Nelson, passed out of the Health Services Committee by a narrow vote. Legislation banning the use and possession of eight-liner machines in Texas, SB 970, by Waco Senator David Sibley, was left pending in the Economic Development Committee.

Teachers could be getting a bonus under legislation Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins filed Thursday, March 11 creating a Master Reader Teacher program. SB 3 which has strong support from Perry, rewards specially trained reading teachers with a state-funded bonus of up to $7000 a year. March 12 is the last day for legislators to file bills with statewide impact without permission from their fellow members.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m.

NOMINEES CONFIRMED 3/8/99

Texas Public Utility Commission

Brett A. Perlman             Appointed 01-11-99 for a             Brown
Harris County                term to expire 09-01-03    

Texas Transportation Commission

John W. Johnson              Appointed 02-02-99 for a             Ellis
Harris County                term to expire 02-01-05

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission    

John T. Steen, Jr.           Appointed 01-08-98 for a             Wentworth
Bexar County                 term to expire 11-15-03

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board    

Martin Basaldua              Appointed 09-18-97 for a             Lindsay
Harris County                term to expire 08-31-03

Robert W. Shepard            Appointed 09-18-97 for a             Lucio
Cameron County               term to expire 08-31-03

Pamela P. Willeford          Appointed 09-18-97 for a             Barrientos
Travis County                term to expire 08-31-03

State Commission on Judicial Conduct    

Dee Coats                    Appointed 05-13-98 for a             Lindsay    
Harris County                term to expire 11-19-03

Gilbert M. Martinez          Appointed 05-13-98 for a             Barrientos
Travis County                term to expire 11-19-03

Texas Judicial Council        

James R. Brickman            Appointed 09-15-97 for a             Shapiro
Dallas County                term to expire 06-30-01

Joseph Alan Callier          Appointed 06-30-01 for a             Lindsay
Harris County                term to expire 06-30-03

Diego J. Pena                Appointed 09-15-97 for a             Wentworth
Bexar County                 term to expire 06-30-99

Sharon W. Wilkes             Appointed 10-30-97 for a             Barrientos
Travis County                term to expire 06-30-99

University of Houston Board of Regents

Suzette T. Caldwell          Appointed 09-22-97 for a             Brown
Fort Bend County             term to expire 08-31-03

Theresa W. Chang             Appointed 09-22-97 for a             Lindsay
Harris County                term to expire 08-31-03

George E. McDavid            Appointed 09-22-97 for a             Lindsay
Harris County                term to expire 08-31-03            

Thad "Bo" Smith              Appointed 05-14-98 for a             Brown
Fort Bend County             term to expire 08-31-03




University of North Texas Board of Regents

Roy Gene Evans               Appointed 07-09-98 for a             Shapiro
Dallas County                term to expire 05-22-03

George W. Pepper             Appointed 09-29-97 for a             Moncrief
Tarrant County               term to expire 05-22-03

Gayle W. Strange             Appointed 09-29-97 for a             Haywood
Denton County                term to expire 05-22-03

Martha F. Turner             Appointed 09-29-97 for a             Gallegos
Harris County                term to expire 05-22-03

Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation

Gina Parker                  Appointed 03-12-98 for a             Ogden
McLennan County              term to expire 02-01-01    

Patricia P. Stout            Appointed 02-09-99 for a             Wentworth
Bexar County                 term to expire 02-01-05

Leo R. Vasquez, III          Appointed 02-09-99 for a             Lindsay
Harris County                term to expire 02-01-05

Commissioner, Texas Fire Fighters' Pension

Morris E. Sandefer, Jr.      Appointed 09-19-97 for a             Nixon
Hardin County                term to expire 07-01-99

Texas Juvenile Probation Commission

Mike Cantrell                Appointed 06-15-98 for a             Carona
Dallas County                term to expire 08-31-03

Mary Craft                   Appointed 06-15-98 for a             Ellis
Harris County                term to expire 08-31-03

William E. "Bill" Miller     Appointed 06-15-98 for a             Duncan
Lubbock County               term to expire 08-31-03

Byron K. Reed                Appointed 02-09-99 for a             Shapiro
Collin County                term to expire 8-31-03

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

Paddy Lann Burwell           Appointed 02-12-99 for a             Armbrister
DeWitt County                term to expire 02-01-05

Lafayette Collins            Appointed 02-12-99 for a             Wentworth
Williamson County            term to expire 02-01-05

Linda Garcia                 Appointed 02-12-99 for a             Jackson
Harris County                term to expire 02-01-05            

James Paul Kiel, Jr.         Appointed 02-12-99 for a             Ratliff
Smith County                 term to expire 02-01-05            

Filiberto "Bert" Reyna        Appointed 02-12-99 for a            Sibley
McLennan County               term to expire 02-01-05

Lucinda "Cindy" Simons        Appointed 02-12-99 for a            Bivins
Deaf Smith County             term to expire 02-01-05






Crime Stoppers Advisory Council

Vernon V. Cook                Appointed 04-30-98 for a             Sibley
McLennan County               term to expire 09-01-99

Janice C. Gillen              Appointed 04-30-98 for a             Brown
Fort Bend County              term to expire 09-01-99
                     
Juan F. Jorge                 Appointed 12-01-99 for a             Gallegos
Harris County                 term to expire 01-09-99    

Lennie C. Sims                Appointed 04-30-98 for a             Haywood
Collingsworth County          term to expire 09-01-99

Judge, 18th Judicial District Court, Johnson and Somervell Counties

John Edward Neill             Appointed 11-20-98 until             Harris
Johnson County                the next general election

Presiding Judge, Third Administrative Judicial Region

B.B. Schraub                  Reappointed 02-03-98 for a          Wentworth
Guadalupe County              term to expire 4 years
                              from date of qualification     

Presiding Judge, Fifth Administrative Judicial Region

Darrell Hester                Reappointed 02-03-98 for a          Lucio
Cameron County                term to expire 4 years
                              from date of qualification

Presiding Judge, Seventh Administrative Judicial Region

Dean Rucker                   Appointed 04-02-98 for a            Bivins
Midland County                term to expire 4 years
                              from date of qualification

Presiding Judge, Ninth Administrative Judicial Region

Ray D. Anderson               Reappointed 02-03-98 for a          Duncan
Lubbock County                term to expire 4 years
                              from date of qualification

Midwestern State University Board of Regents

Jamie A. Davidson            Appointed 06-10-98 for a             Carona
Dallas County                term to expire 02-25-04

Carolyn Park                 Appointed 06-10-98 for a             Harris
Tarrant County               term to expire 02-25-04

Chaunce O. Thompson, Jr.      Appointed 06-10-98 for a            Fraser
Stephens County               term to expire 02-25-04

Texas State Technical College Board of Regents

Bernie Francis               Appointed 10-08-97 for a             Nelson
Denton County                term to expire 08-31-03

Jere M. Lawrence             Reappointed 10-08-97 for a           Fraser
Nolan County                 term to expire 08-31-03

Amy R.  Tschirhart           Appointed 10-21-97 for a             Wentworth
Comal County                 term to expire 08-31-03

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