PRESS RELEASE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 8, 2010
CONTACT: Ian Randolph, Chief of Staff
Senator Lucio's Early Legislation Advocates for Investing in Texans
AUSTIN, TX— This morning Senator Lucio gave an early look at part of his legislative agenda by pre-filing a dozen bills for the upcoming Legislative Session beginning on January 11, 2011. Official pre-filing began on Monday, November 8th.
This legislation continues Senator Lucio's focus on education, children's nutrition, consumer and worker's rights, and protecting those with special needs.
"I have always emphasized education; I believe the smartest investment we can make is in our young Texans. The more educated and healthier we are, the more competitive we are as a workforce. It's the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do from a business, economic, and health perspective. We're our own economic engine, and if we want to move forward, we've got to be willing to pay the cost of gas," said Lucio.
Two of Senator Lucio's bills, Senate Bill (SB) 88 and SB 89, expand school districts' eligibility for free breakfast and summer lunch programs for low income children. The data show that providing breakfast at school not only improves students' attendance, but also raises their performance, all the while lowering discipline problems in the classroom. "I can think of no better way to make a positive difference in a child's life than ensuring that children have access to healthy meals, " Lucio added.
Senator Lucio also filed SB 87 to give general education teachers improved access to learning best practices for teaching children with disabilities. "We ask teachers to perform the most important job in the state and yet we deny them the tools they need. SB 87 will ensure that teachers have somewhere to go when looking for extra training in effective, scientifically-based instructional techniques for teaching students with disabilities, especially autism," Lucio noted.
He also filed SB 169, which expands upon his previous legislation requiring insurance companies to provide medically necessary coverage of autism spectrum disorder treatment. The bill will ensure that all state employees will be added to the coverage that is currently required by law. Lucio added, "I have successfully pushed for this coverage in Austin for over 7 years, because studies have shown that providing treatment for children with autism works. With treatment, many of these children can lead productive and successful lives. They can contribute to our state, have fulfilling careers, and be taxpaying citizens. They deserve this opportunity, and it is a disgrace that insurance companies would deny this vital coverage."
Lucio's legislation, SB 90 and SB 91, addresses the state's lack of funding for school facilities. SB 90 requires a study of the need for classroom buildings in Texas. SB 91 changes the distribution mechanism for state assistance so more school districts can be reached by the same amount of funding. At the same time, this bill opens the door to local property tax relief when the state invests more money into school facilities. "Simply put, we should not be permanently teaching children in temporary classrooms. SB 91 recognizes that the current system for facility funding is broken and property tax payers need relief," stated Lucio.
Senator Lucio also filed a set of bills, SB 95, SB 96 and SB 97, aimed at insurance reform. Lucio added, "Texans continue to pay some of the highest home owners insurance rates in the country while their coverage is shrinking. My legislation aims to reverse that trend and make sure that consumers in Texas get a fair shake."
Additionally, SB 92 and SB 93 address vulnerable workers in Texas. SB 92 requires the state to calculate a worker's eligibility for unemployment using the person's most recent work history. "We haven't updated our unemployment insurance system since the 1930's, a time when the state needed months to determine a person's benefits. With computers, this lag time is completely unnecessary, bordering on ridiculous. Modernizing our unemployment insurance system is a quick and intelligent way to bolster the Texas economy," Lucio explained. Senate Bill 93 will allow injured workers the opportunity to attain legal counsel only after exhausting all administrative recourse when challenging worker's compensation claims.
Another measure by Senator Lucio, SB 94, facilitates the sale of surplus renewable energy generated by individual homeowners. "By increasing transparency in the market, SB 94 gives homeowners, with solar panels for example, more power to negotiate fair terms when selling surplus energy back to retail electric providers," he explained.