from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabe Valenzuela
(512) 463-0121
November 8, 2004

Senator Zaffirini Pre-Files 20 Bills

(AUSTIN) - Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, filed 20 bills on Monday (Nov. 8), the first day of pre-filing legislation for the 79th Legislative Session that convenes on Jan. 11. Her priority bills focus on education, health and human services, public safety and family issues.

A member of the Senate Health and Humans Services Committee since 1987 and its former chair, Senator Zaffirini pre-filed Senate Bill 22, which would implement numerous changes and improve the state's foster care system. Developed by Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, it reflects solutions to her findings published in Forgotten Children, including raising the standards of care and providing stronger oversight.

"This legislation will eliminate the dual system that has the fox guarding the hen house, give the state real teeth to raise standards to humane levels of care and provide strong oversight for the alarming number of psychotropic drugs commonly prescribed to foster children," Comptroller Strayhorn said.

SBs 30-35 focus on higher education, including creating tuition and financial aid incentives for undergraduate and advanced degree students who are graduated timely.

"Higher education has always been one of my greatest passions," Senator Zaffirini said. "We must encourage Texans to complete degrees timely. This would be a savings not only for their families, but also for our universities and for our state. What's more, graduates create vacancies for other students."

As vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, she has been instrumental in promoting cost-effectiveness and in finding savings to re-appropriate into priority programs.

A long time champion of children's causes, Senator Zaffirini also pre-filed legislation to advance early childhood education. SB 23 would increase the number of early childhood education sites, while SB 41 would strengthen parental rights by allowing parents to take time off from work to participate in certain activities related to their child's education.

"These pro-education bills are long-term pro-business bills," said Senator Zaffirini, a member of the Senate Education Committee. "By allowing parents to play a greater role in their children's education, we will help produce a more educated workforce."

Senator Zaffirini also pre-filed SBs 25-28, which would provide law enforcement with more tools to arrest drunk drivers and would enhance penalties for those with high blood alcohol content levels.

Victims of sexual assaults also would benefit from the senator's SBs 36-39, which would help increase evidence and data collection and enhance victim involvement in sentencing of criminals.

SB 24 by Zaffirini would establish an organ donor registry, while her SB 29 would promote childhood obesity prevention programs, and SB 40 would enhance permanency planning for children with disabilities.

"I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to enact these and other bills that will benefit the families of Senate District 21 and our great state," Senator Zaffirini said.

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Attachment: List of 20 bills pre-filed by Senator Judith Zaffirini on Monday, Nov. 08.

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