from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
August 3, 2006

LT. GOVERNOR DEWHURST APPOINTS SENATOR ZAFFIRINI TO BINATIONAL ALCOHOL, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TASK FORCE

(AUSTIN) - Lt. Governor David Dewhurst recently (July 28) announced his appointment of Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, to the Binational Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force. Established by HB 3426 by Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, and Senator Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, the task force is charged with studying various issues related to substance and alcohol abuse trends specific to the Texas border region.

"I am grateful to Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for the opportunity to work with my fellow task force members to address these significant problems afflicting our borderland communities," Senator Zaffirini said. "Substance abuse, drug trafficking and underage and binge drinking are critical issues for the border and must be examined closely to ensure that appropriate solutions are applied."

The task force will examine patterns of alcohol and substance abuse among minors and adults living along the Texas/Mexico border and the effects such abuse has on the health of the community. Members also will investigate methods of drug trafficking, specifically the use of minors and young adults to transport drugs into the United States. The task force is required to submit its report and recommendations to the legislature before the start of the next legislative session that begins on Jan. 9, 2007.

HB 3426 mandates the task force consist of legislators, officials and designees from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of State Health Services, area law enforcement and district attorney offices. Local substance abuse and intervention specialists, physicians and attorneys also will be appointed.

Rep. Chavez will serve as task force chair joined by House appointees, Representatives Veronica Gonzalez, D-McAllen; Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg; Armando "Mando" Martinez, D-Weslaco; and Tracy King, D-Batesville. Senator Zaffirini's appointment was announced along with the appointments of Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as vice chair; Shapleigh; and Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville.

Fourth in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, the senator is the namesake of United ISD's Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School, Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park's Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and the Judith Zaffirini Program in Edinburg that focuses on fighting drug addictions of men, women and children.

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