Senate Honors Past Members,
53-Year Staff Member
AUSTIN - The Senate today remembered former members and paid tribute its longest-serving staff member who is retiring at the end of the session.
The Senate honors past members every session on Members Reunion Day. Dignitaries present today included former senators, governors, lieutenant governors and Governor Rick Perry.
The day also was marked by the adoption of a resolution honoring Secretary of the Texas Senate Betty King. Known to several generations of lawmakers as the "gracious lady of the Capitol," King is stepping down at the end of this session after 24 years as secretary of the senate and more than 53 years of service in the Legislature.
King's first exposure to the Legislature came when she was 14 and served as an honorary page while her mother worked for the speaker of the house. After college, she served as a clerk for the House Appropriations Committee in 1947 before going to work in the Senate in 1949. In 1977 she was elected secretary of the senate by the members, a post she has held longer than any person in Texas history.
"Betty King, you are a giant," said Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos.
The Lieutenant Governor's Committee Room has been renamed the Betty King Committee Room, a high honor at the Capitol.
"I think there's historic significance in the fact that that room will be named after a woman," said Houston Sen. Rodney Ellis. "Mrs. King, we named that room after you because we believe in what you stand for."
The Dean, or longest-serving member of the Senate, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, summed up the comments of his colleagues simply: "You have served the State of Texas well."
Truan has served in the Senate since the 65th Legislative Session in 1977, the same session King was elected secretary.
After listening to the senators describe her as a mother figure and debate who among them was her favorite, a teary-eyed King replied, "You all behave yourselves."
Following the honorary resolutions, the Senate moved on to its regular business. Among the bills considered in today's session, the Senate passed House Bill (HB) 1130, a measure sponsored in the Senate by Barrientos.
HB 1130 is intended to address the shortage of teachers in Texas by expanding an existing tuition exemption program for teacher aides who want to become teachers.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill (SB) 532, which would authorize the Health and Human Services Commission to provide full Medicaid benefits to certain uninsured women who need treatment for breast or cervical cancer.
"This legislation will make this critical treatment available to low-income women in Texas who often rely on an ... ad hoc network of charity care," said the bill's author, Flower Mound Sen. Jane Nelson.
The Senate also passed the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB) 1245, a proposal authored by Fort Worth Sen. Mike Moncrief that would add home health care providers to the list of employees covered by the Department of Human Services' Employee Misconduct Registry. The bill would allow home health care agencies and other long-term care providers to determine if an employee has a record of abuse or neglect.
The Senate also passed HB 360, which would strengthen laws against sexual abuse of children. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo sponsored HB 360 in the Senate.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9 a.m. Friday.