From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
February 18, 1999
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

Y2K Bill Aims to Protect Consumers, Encourage Remedies Before Problems Occur

AUSTIN -- Texas consumers and businesses will benefit under bills filed today by Senators Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) and Representatives Brian McCall (R-Plano) and Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) that encourages computer manufacturers and sellers to identify and correct potential Year 2000 computer date failures before they occur.

The legislation creates incentives for computer manufacturers and sellers to make a good-faith effort to notify their customers and to offer to correct the Y2K problems at a nominal cost.

Representatives Rob Junell (D-San Angelo) and Arlene Wohlgemuth (R Burleson) join in the filing of the House bill.

"Consumers as well as businesses, small and large, will benefit from this legislation because computer manufacturers and sellers have an incentive to be pro-active in fixing Y2K problems before they occur," Senator Fraser said. "We want the people who know the most about the problem to make an effort to fix it."

"Our mission is to create a fair blueprint for the resolution of Year 2000 disputes," Senator Duncan said. "It is essential for all sectors of the economy that these disputes be resolved uniformly, and that the outcomes be somewhat predictable. "With enactment of this legislation, Texas will become the model nationwide for the resolution of these disputes," Senator Duncan added.

Representative McCall called the plan "an incentive for early remediation of the Year 2000 problems before harm occurs. Early action by all parties will be rewarded under this bill."

"Without action by the state, Texas leaves itself vulnerable to upheaval and disruption our flourishing economy," Representative Pitts said. "This bill is an attempt to ensure that this disruption does not occur."

The so-called "Y2K problem" stems from earlier computer programming decisions that prevent some computers from recognizing and processing dates beginning with the year 2000.

Under the bills, computer manufacturers and sellers would be granted defenses if they notify computer users at least 90 days in advance of a potential failure, explain the problem and offer to correct it at little or no cost.

The bills cover all disputes arising from Year 2000 problems except wrongful death, bodily injury, or workers' compensation cases. The legislation specifies that lawsuits stemming from a Y2K failure must be filed no later than two years after the computer date failure first caused harm.

The measures also encourage the rapid and efficient disposition of Y2K disputes as a result of computer date failures when they occur. By creating a framework to resolve Y2K disputes, the bills' authors hope to limit unnecessary litigation and minimize economic disruption.

In addition, the legislation calls for the creation of a Texas Year 2000 Project Office website, to be administered by the Texas Department of Information Resources, to assist computer manufacturers and sellers inform their customers of potential Y2K failures, and to provide information on how to fix those problems.

The Department of Information Resources also would be required to establish a toll-free telephone number for persons who are unable to access the Internet to provide remediation information.