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

AUSTIN - Teen drug abuse in Texas has prompted new legislation from the Senate. The members voted on Tuesday to increase penalties for dealers whose drug sales result in serious bodily injury or death to the user. Plano Senator Florence Shapiro is sponsoring a package of drug-related legislation this session because of recent drug overdoses in her district. The Senator says that illegal drugs are increasing in potency, leading to more injuries and death among teens. For that reason, penalties need to be stiffened.

Under Committee Substitute to Senate Bill(CSSB) 41 the punishment for delivering drugs changes from a maximum of two years in jail to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. If the user dies, the maximum sentence is life.

Shapiro also sponsored the CSSB 43 which requires doctors to report certain illegal drug overdoses to the Department of Health. The reports will not contain names or any identifying information, but Shapiro hopes tracking and monitoring drug trends could prevent an epidemic.

A water rights bill finally passed the Senate after last night's filibuster by freshman Senator David Bernsen of Beaumont. Bernsen said he wanted to bring attention to the issue before it flew out of the Senate. The CSSB 143 amends the water bill from last session. It deletes the provision mandating that all water transferred through an interbasin transfer is junior in priority to all waters in the basin. This means that no water would be transferred in times of drought or shortage. Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson sponsored the bill.

The Senate will reconvenes Wednesday March 24 at 10:00 a.m.

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