80th Legislative Session
by State Senator Carlos I. Uresti
The last two weeks of the legislative session is a whirlwind -- even more so for a freshman Senator! The Texas legislature finishes its regular session on May 28th, whether the work is done or not. As you can imagine, the Capitol is buzzing now with last minute negotiations, as legislators work to pass their bills before the deadline.
This session has been eventful for me, following the filing of more than 70 bills and resolutions. I have worked with my colleagues in the Senate and House to improve senior safety by passing Senate Bill 1315, which Governor Perry has signed into law. When it becomes effective on September 1, 2007, the Senior Alert will help the Department of Public Safety alert Texans to missing seniors who suffer from dementia.
This session I helped expand a successful child abuse prevention program called the Nurse-Family Partnership (Senate Bill 156). Following its successful start in Dallas, children in many other Texas cities will benefit from this important program as it is established throughout our State. The Nurse-Family Partnership pairs at-risk, first-time mothers with registered nurses. Through a regular schedule of home visits during pregnancy and the first two years of life, mother and infant are prepared for a healthy future and a strong start in life.
I have made a number of important improvements to our State's guardianship programs with the passage and signature of several bills this session. These measures strengthen the Guardianship Certification Board that I created during the 79th Legislature. Board members now have access to criminal background records to ensure the quality of certified guardians. Provisional guardianship certification will be issued for guardians pursuing full certification, allowing them to receive supervised on-the-job training. And board members, who have worked diligently to create a guardianship certification system during the past two years without any of their expenses paid, will now receive reimbursements for costs like travel.
As 'zero hour' approaches, a number of important bills await passage in the House and Senate, including a bill establishing the Foster Children Bill of Rights; a ban on clinical trials and medical studies involving foster children and children in the Texas Youth Commission and juvenile systems; and a bill establishing a statewide child abuse prevention task force. I am also working with colleagues to ensure that voting rights and driving privileges are maintained by the courts, when possible, for those receiving guardianship services.
So many constituents, cities, counties, and advocates have helped my office craft important legislation to improve our district and our State. I want to thank the many individuals who have called, written, and visited to offer their thoughts, suggestions and ideas. Your input truly influences the creation of law through our democratic process.
Two weeks remain to continue my work for you. You can be sure that my staff and I will work tirelessly as the clock ticks toward Sine Die, the final day of session. Until then, please stay in touch.
State Senator Carlos I. Uresti represents Senate District 19. His Capitol office can be reached at 512-463-0119; his San Antonio district office can be reached at 210-932-2568. The mailing address is: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711.