from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
September 11, 2006

TEXAS DENTAL ASSOCIATION HONORS SENATOR ZAFFIRINI FOR EXCELLENCE IN PATIENT ADVOCACY

LAREDO -- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today (Monday) received the inaugural "Excellence in Patient Advocacy Award" from the Texas Dental Association (TDA) for her leadership in addressing dental issues in the Texas Legislature. Senator Zaffirini was one of four Texas legislators to receive this honor created by the TDA Board of Directors and voted for unanimously by their House of Delegates.

The ceremony, held in Laredo and hosted by TDA president Dr. Thomas Harrison and TDA Laredo District Dental Society president Dr. José Manuel González, recognized Senator Zaffirini particularly for her work on the 2006-07 state budget that provided funding to reinstate CHIP dental benefits and offset Medicaid cuts made during the previous legislative session.

"I am delighted to champion TDA's commitment to patient care," Senator Zaffirini said. "Throughout my 20 years in the Texas Senate, TDA has excelled in collaborating with legislators to serve the dental industry and dental patients throughout Texas."

TDA has enjoyed 135 years of service to the Texas dental industry and is composed of 7,700 professional members. Its 119-member Board of Delegates unanimously nominated and approved this award and its recipients.

Senator Zaffirini has won more than 550 awards for her professional and public service work, including more than 94 for communication projects. She continues to receive awards for her public service and professional work. Awards received this year include the Texas Advocacy Award from the American Cancer Society, the Texas Hospital Advocacy Tribute from the Texas Hospital Association, being named an honorary nun by the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Ministries of Laredo, and honored as "Our Founding Leader in Health Education" by the Mid Rio Grande Border Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

HB 153, legislation sponsored by Senator Zaffirini and Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, authorizes Texas universities to issue $1.9 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for capital improvements. As part of this legislation, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston received $60 million to construct new facilities for the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston.

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. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst appointed her Chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education, Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and to the Legislative Budget Board, and the Senate Committees on Education, Health and Human Services, International Relations and Trade. She will begin her 20th year in the Texas Senate in 2007.

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