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Tuesday, March 30, 1999     (512) 463-0300

AUSTIN - Two state senators are trying to prevent the Y2K computer glitch from becoming a courtroom disaster. Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay says he does not know exactly what problems may arise, but hopes the legislation he is sponsoring can help prepare Texans, "It's a problem that grows literally with each hour of each passing day and depending on whom you talk to it could either lead to a worldwide calamity of epic proportions or it simply could turn out to be one of the most over hyped events ever known."

The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 598 encourages computer companies to solve possible Y2K problems before a failure occurs. Software designers would have an incentive to find a cure, because the bill exempts them from lawsuits when they attempt to find solutions and pass them on to consumers. The bill also mandates a statewide web site and toll-free numbers to provide information about Y2K computer problems and solutions. Lubbock Senator Robert L. Duncan co sponsored the bill.

Assaulting a mother-to-be would become a felony under CSSB 188. The bill creates an offense for causing bodily injury to a pregnant woman, with increased penalties if the woman suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth. Bryan Senator Steve Ogden sponsored the measure and fielded questions about whether this bill might be an anti-abortion measure in disguise. Ogden says no, and that his intentions are clear. The bill passed to engrossment.

Victoria Senator Ken Armbrister sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 460, which allows an oral confession to a police officer to be admissible in court finally passed the Senate. The bill failed to reach the floor last week during extensive debate. A floor amendment calmed many senators' fears about potential abuses by police officers. Dallas Senator Royce West sponsored the amendment to restore language which requires a video or audio recording of any oral statement for it to be admissible in court. It also allows an oral confession to be admitted without a recording when used only to impeach an alibi witness. In other words, if an alibi witness lies on the stand, an oral confession to a police officer can be used against them in some circumstances. Lt. Governor Rick Perry believes the bill will allow police officers more freedom, "It tightens a loophole in the law providing another tool to keep criminals off our streets and behind bars."

The bill prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from riding in the back of a pick-up truck on public roads finally passed the Senate today. Senator Duncan sponsored SB 411 which has exemptions for transporting farm workers and children when a pick-up truck is the only source of transportation for a household.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow, March 31, at 10:00 a.m.

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