from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
512/463-0121
March 7, 2001

SENATE PASSES TWO ZAFFIRINI BILLS TO ENHANCE WELFARE, SAFETY OF FAMILIES

The Texas Senate today (Wednesday) passed two bills by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, to enhance the welfare and safety of families by improving compliance with child support laws and to protect children, persons with disabilities and the elderly.

Senate Bill 48 by Zaffirini requires the Texas Department of Human Services to impose a penalty (a deduction of not less than 25 percent of the amount of assistance) on recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) who fail to provide child support information. The purpose of the legislation is to enhance personal responsibility and to comply with federal requirements regarding child-support noncompliance.

SB 53 by Zaffirini expands the authority of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS) to obtain criminal background history records. The bill authorizes DPRS to obtain criminal information about individuals who will have direct contact with DPRS clients, including children, persons with disabilities and elderly persons. It also ensures that the information is processed expeditiously to protect caseworkers and clients alike.

The two bills authored by Zaffirini must be passed in the House of Representatives before being sent to the Governor for approval.

Eight bills passed earlier in the session by Sen. Zaffirini also reflect priority issues. They include protecting children in day-care and the elderly in long-term care facilities, providing preventive information about meningitis to students and their parents, and increasing children's access to human services benefits.

Sen. Zaffirini has filed 64 bills this session and is finalizing additional proposals. The deadline for filing general legislation is March 9. Local bills can be filed anytime. More than 350 of Sen. Zaffirini's bills have become laws since 1987.

District 21 comprises Bee, Dimmit, Duval, Frio, Jim Hogg, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen, Starr, Webb, Wilson, Zapata and Zavala and parts of Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Hidalgo and Uvalde counties.

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