PRESS RELEASE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 9, 2007
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

SENATOR LUCIO FILES VARIETY OF BILLS

AUSTIN, TX -- Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. today, the deadline for filing bills in the Senate, announced he filed several bills both recently and earlier that promote good government.

Senate Bill (SB) 1403 would eliminate the TAKS test in high school and phase in end-of-course exams. "The bill gives teachers the ability to provide input into the development of the end-of-course exams," said Sen. Lucio. "The bill eases the high stakes nature of the tests by giving teachers and school districts more discretion in determining whether a student who has failed an exam may have done so because of extenuating circumstances and therefore may still be able to graduate."

Another measure, SB 840, would direct the Commissioner of Education to develop training institutes for teachers and paraprofessionals who work with students with disabilities, including students with autism spectrum disorders, to implement research-based education practices in their classrooms. The training would be voluntary and carry stipends for completion of the training.

"Federal requirements mandate that students with disabilities be educated in the 'least restrictive environment,'" said Sen. Lucio. "Most of these students spend all or part of their school day in general education classrooms. This bill would benefit teachers with no special education background or no experience working with certain disabilities, as well as the paraprofessionals who assist them in providing direct services to students with extensive needs.

"I anticipate that SB 840 will result in greater academic achievement of special needs students, better management of the classroom and an overall positive classroom environment," added the Senator.

Pharmaceutical companies would have to report gifts valued over $75 made to health care providers under Sen. Lucio's SB 414. The reports, to be housed in the Department of State Health Services, would be posted for the public. The bill does not ban gifts and provides exceptions for samples, scholarships and payment for participation in clinical drug trials.

"The intent of this bill is to increase awareness about financial relationships between pharmaceutical marketers and health care providers," explained Sen. Lucio "This bill would also provide the state with a better understanding of the amount spent on gifts and how those gifts affect prescribing practices and prescription drug costs."

A bill that would allow hospitals and nursing homes to donate pharmaceutical samples and unused products to patient assistance programs that help provide low-income Texans with free or low-cost medications will be filed later today.

Sen. Lucio is also laying the foundation for a law school in the Rio Grande Valley. SB 1400 would authorize a law school at the University of Texas at Brownsville in Cameron County.

Another proposal, SB 1707, would make a person strictly liable who conducts a private investigation and is unlicensed and not exempt under the law and the investigation results in injury, death or property damage.

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