from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabe Valenzuela
(512) 463-0121
March 31, 2005

Senate Passes Productivity Bills Authored by Senator Zaffirini

(AUSTIN) -- The Texas Senate Thursday (March 31) passed three bills authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, that will help state and local governments be more productive and prudent with taxpayer money and help promote the educational and physical well-being of many Texans.

Senate Bill 34 will promote timely graduation by amending the requirements of the state's tuition rebate program for public institutions of higher education to require undergraduate students to be graduated timely. Students who complete their degrees with no more than three credit hours beyond the minimum number of semester credit hours to complete their degree will receive $1,000 rebates.

"This bill provides a greater incentive for students to complete their studies timely," said Senator Zaffirini, a member of the Senate Education Subcommittee on Higher Education.

SB 626 by Senator Zaffirini would enable the Department of Aging and Disability Services to facilitate independent living via Medicaid waiver programs by providing community-based services to persons with disabilities. Cost caps would be waived when necessary for persons to live in the community and continue receiving services while maintaining the federal cost-neutrality of the waiver program.

SB 103 by Senator Zaffirini would help provide quicker resolutions to tax disputes, such as disputes by large corporations regarding property tax valuations. These court cases often last from two to three years. SB 103 would expedite the appeals of appraisal review board orders by providing them preferential settings in trial courts.

"Small and rural counties particularly are affected by such delays," said Senator Zaffirini, whose 17-county district is predominantly rural. "These counties rely heavily on local tax revenues because these funds are crucial to their school districts."

The three bills passed with unanimous consent and must be passed by the House of Representatives before they can be sent to Governor Rick Perry for final approval. The continued progress of all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the Internet at www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library's toll free instate hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

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