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April 9, 1999     (512) 463-0300
Prisoners-of-War Recognition Day
The Senate adopted Senate Resolution 581 recognizing former Prisoners-of-War Recognition Day. Pictured left to right: Corpus Christi Senator Carlos Truan - Chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, Sam Bier - Legislative officer of Austin P.O.W. Chapter, Sina Chander - Chapter Commander, Lt. Governor Rick Perry, Lewell Chandler - Past State Commander, Ken Wallingford - Vietnam Veteran, and Lake Jackson Senator J.E. 'Buster' Brown.

SENATE RECOGNIZES P.O.W.S

AUSTIN- Texans who live under homeowner associations would gain new rights due to reform legislation passed by the Senate. The bill creates rights, obligations, and procedures for homeowners and homeowner associations with mandatory membership. The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill(CSSB) 699, co-sponsored by Senators Frank Madla of San Antonio and Rodney Ellis of Houston would provide homeowners the right to appeal fines, the right to redeem property upon foreclosure and gives the Attorney General the power to sue negligent associations. "This legislation represents a major victory for Texas homeowners," Ellis said. "It strikes the proper balance between the need to protect homeowner's rights from irresponsible abuses, and the need to maintain homeowner's associations' ability to help manage growth in cities across Texas."

The Senate wants children to learn to read at an early age and passed legislation to establish a grant program that assists schools who provide early reading programs. CSSB 955 sponsor Senator Teel Bivins of Amarillo says its important to start reading initiatives early."One of the things we know about reading is that children who are read to, who are allowed to play with books who are exposed to books at a young age have a better performance and achievement curve than those who don't have that type of exposure," Bivins said. Lt. Governor Rick Perry recognized the First Lady of Texas Laura Bush for her work with early childhood development program and praised the legislation. "These grants recognize that if we get reading right earlier we'll have fewer juvenile justice problems, welfare problem or unemployment problems later on," Perry said.

The Senate passed a resolution honoring Prisoners of War. They adjourned in honor of U.S. Army Soldier Steven Gonzales of Huntsville, Texas one of the POWs captured along the Yugoslavia Macedonia border.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, April 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Week in Review

AUSTIN--A $250 million sales tax cut passed out of the Senate Thursday, April 7. The bill ends the sales tax on diapers and over-the-counter children's medicine. The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 441 also includes a 14-day sales tax holiday in August for school clothes and shoes. Houston Senator Rodney Ellis, the bill's sponsor, said, "I think this is a real tax cut for families that they can really understand." Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos supported the legislation, but questioned why bipartisan support was not there when he proposed similar legislation last session.

Texans who live under homeowner associations would gain new rights due to reform legislation passed by the Senate. The bill creates rights, obligations and procedures for homeowners and homeowner associations with mandatory membership. CSSB 699, co-sponsored by Senators Frank Madla of San Antonio and Ellis, would provide homeowners the right to appeal fines, the right to redeem property upon foreclosure and give the attorney general the power to sue negligent associations. "It strikes the proper balance between the need to protect homeowner's rights from irresponsible abuses, and the need to maintain homeowner's associations' ability to help manage growth in cities across Texas," Ellis said.

The Senate wants children to learn to read at an early age and passed legislation designed to make that happen. CSSB 955 sponsor Senator Teel Bivins of Amarillo says it's important to start reading initiatives early. "One of the things we know about reading is that children who are read to, who are allowed to play with books, who are exposed to books at a young age have a better performance and achievement curve than those who don't have that type of exposure," Bivins said. The bill creates a grant program for schools who establish early reading initiatives.

Public schools could get more money if legislation passed Tuesday, April 6 becomes law. Senate Bill (SB) 1320 would reduce the amount of money kept in the Texas Lottery reserve fund. Bill sponsor, Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, says the lottery does not need all of the $20 million now set aside to cover risk. The legislation reduces the reserve fund amount to $5 million and contributes the remaining $15 million to the foundation school fund.

Legislation limiting lawsuits by local governments against gun makers finally passed the Senate after weeks of debate. SB 717 sponsor, Senator Jon Lindsay of Houston, says it will not keep individuals from suing if there is a faulty piece of equipment.

Colonias would have greater access to vital services like water, sewer and electricity under legislation passed out of the Special Committee on Border Affairs on Tuesday, April 6. SB 1421 includes a series of bills authored by four senators representing the Border to improve living conditions in those areas.

Under legislation the Senate passed Wednesday, April 7, communities that depend on the Rio Grande for their water supply would know how reliable that source is for the future. The Senate passed SB 76 requiring the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to develop a water supply model for the Rio Grande. Senator Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi sponsored the bill, "Without a model for the Rio Grande, Texas is at the mercy of the upstream users on the Rio Grande. Without a model we cannot know the consequences of their actions, we cannot plan a strategy, we cannot protect our interests."

Fast growing school districts, property tax relief and teacher pay dominated the discussion of 19 bills concerning those and other issues introduced in the Education Committee on Wednesday, April 7. Committee Chair Bivins sponsors the school finance package--CSSB 4. The bill would dedicate two and one half billion dollars of new money to the public education system, including a $2000 benefit increase for teachers and a property tax cut. In the committee hearing Bivins said, "Senate Bill 4 establishes I think beyond any doubt that education is the number one priority of this legislative session."

Dallas Senator David Cain said the bill provides a good framework but disagreed on the details, saying that for most Texans, the property tax cut will barely buy a fast food lunch, "The property tax cut being discussed this session would amount to about $5 a month for the average Texas homeowner. That's a Big Mac, fries and a Coke with a little change." Cain proposed an amendment that would double the teacher pay raise to $4000 and increase resources for at risk students.

The Senate passed a resolution honoring Prisoners of War on Friday, April 9. They adjourned in honor of U.S. Army Soldier Steven Gonzales of Huntsville, Texas one of the POWs captured along the Yugoslavia Macedonia border.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, April 12 at 1:30 p.m.

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