from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Hudson
512/463-0121
March 14, 2001

TEXAS SENATE APPROVES ZAFFIRINI BILLS TO PROMOTE SELF SUFFICIENCY, AID VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE

Texas families striving to remain off welfare and to escape domestic violence will receive increased support because of legislation approved today (Wednesday) by the Texas Senate. Senate Bill 47 and Senate Bill 161 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, allow funding for nonresidential domestic violence centers and direct the Texas Department of Human Services and the Texas Workforce Commission to provide transitional support services such as transportation assistance and job coaches.

"Victims of family violence often do not want or need residential shelter, but still require other valuable domestic violence services," said Sen. Zaffirini. "Family violence programs that do not have a residential shelter but provide other important services are not routinely funded, SB 47 will authorize funding for nonresidential programs."

SB 47 will expand the availability of domestic violence services and allow community-based services to be designed to fit the needs of specific populations, particularly women receiving public assistance. "For welfare-to-work to be a successful policy, it must not mean simply denying families assistance," said Sen. Zaffirini. "Self sufficiency is the key. Families need time and assistance to make the adjustments necessary to find and keep good jobs."

Recent changes in federal law allow states to provide non-cash assistance to persons who leave the welfare rolls and is intended to help families move from public assistance to self support. Currently, Texas provides only limited child care and Medicaid assistance. SB 161 would expand services to provide temporary assistance for housing-related needs, educational support or job mentoring.

"Families need to know that services will be available to help them take the first steps toward economic stability," said Sen. Zaffirini. "The state has the opportunity to ensure that those steps lead forward."

SB 161 and SB 47 must be passed in the House of Representatives before being sent to the Governor for approval.

13 bills passed earlier in the session by Sen. Zaffirini reflect family-oriented 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, increasing children's access to human services benefits, encouraging bilingualism and extending the academic assessment testing deadline for students who are recent unschooled immigrants.

Sen. Zaffirini has filed 69 bills this session. The deadline for filing general legislation was March 9. Local bills can be filed anytime. More than 350 of Sen. Zaffirini's bills have become laws since 1987.

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