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April 26, 1999     (512) 463-0300

AUSTIN - Class action lawsuits may move faster through the Texas court system if legislation passed today becomes law. The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 274 authorizes the appeal of class action decisions to the Texas Supreme Court. The court could then write an opinion to clarify the certification of class action suits, which would shorten the appeals process. Bill sponsor Teel Bivins of Amarillo says that by allowing the Supreme Court to resolve the conflict, the answer will be clear for the whole state.

Public school teachers and university faculty members may serve in the state Legislature under a joint resolution passed today. The Texas Constitution currently prohibits a member of the Legislature from holding any other paid position with the state or the United States with a few exceptions. San Antonio Senator Frank L. Madla sponsored the Committee Substitute for Senate Joint Resolution (CSSJR) 41. Texans will vote on the constitutional amendment if the legislation passes both houses and the governor signs it.

In personal privilege speeches made today on the Senate floor, Senators David Sibley of Waco and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant responded to a letter faxed to all legislators in which those voting against the school voucher program were labeled 'evil'. Ratliff, who supports the voucher program, made an apology to the Senate on behalf of his side of this devisive issue. In strong remarks he asserted that attempting to intimidate senators will not help controversial legislation pass this session, and that all senators must finally vote their concience.

The budget conference committee began its meetings today at 7:00 a.m. The committee was appointed to work out differences between House and Senate versions of the state's $98 billion budget for the two year period beginning September 1, 1999. Proceedings will be available on the Internet at http://www.senate.state.tx.us.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow, April 27, at 10:00 a.m.

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