Senate Acts on Issues
in Manufactured-Home Industry
AUSTIN - The Senate today approved House Bill (HB) 1869, a broad measure sponsored by Arlington Sen. Chris Harris that focuses on retailing practices in the manufactured home industry and consumers' tax responsibilities.
"Currently, depending on which area you look at over the last five years, anywhere from a third to 40 percent of all the housing in Texas has been ... manufactured housing," Harris said. "This is also a business where the public has been being ripped off royally. And this bill addresses those kinds of problems."
HB 1869 would establish financing and purchasing guidelines for manufactured homes. The bill also would require sellers to make buyers aware of property tax obligations for manufactured homes.
The Senate also approved a measure sponsored by Laredo Sen. Judith Zaffirini that is intended to improve access to long-term care services.
HB 1154 would establish a fund administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to be used by community-based organizations to allow better access to long-term care.
Also in today's session, the Committee Substitute for House Bill (CSHB) 6, the charter-schools legislation that sparked a heated debate yesterday, was passed on a voice vote with no debate.
A measure was also passed by the Senate that would require school districts that receive a waiver from the state-mandated class-size limit of 22 students to provide notice to the parents of the affected students.
The Senate also addressed emergency appropriations today. CSHB 1333, which would use available funds to pay for needs that have exceeded 1999 projections, including Medicaid caseloads and taking care of a growing prison population.
"This bill provides the Department of Health with $485 million in fiscal year '01 for Medicaid, $110 million to the Department of Criminal Justice, $13 million to the State Office of Risk Management for workers compensation payments in fiscal year 2001," said Houston Sen. Rodney Ellis, the chair of the Finance Committee.
Each legislative session, a budget is written based on projections made two years in advance. Because of the difficulty of predicting budget needs for two years in advance, such emergency appropriations bills are common.
In other news, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution honoring George Christian, who served as President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary. Christian is currently vice-chair of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation and a former chair of the Texas Historical Commission.
This morning, Zaffirini cast her 25,000th consecutive vote as a member of the Texas Senate.
"Senator Zaffirini is one of the most dedicated, hard-working and most responsible leaders of the Texas Senate," Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff said. "It has always been a special honor and privilege to serve with her."
Upon recognizing Zaffirini's achievement, Ratliff asked her if she would be around for her 50,000th vote.
"Absolutely," Zaffirini replied.
Ratliff spoke with reporters after today's session about the status of Committee Substitute for Senate Bill (CSSB 499), the bill that would redraw Texas' 31 Senate districts. The bill has been the subject of ongoing negotiations among the members of the Senate, with the sides "pretty solidly deadlocked," Ratliff said.
With less than two weeks remaining in this session, the deadline becomes more of a factor each day, although Ratliff said there is still time for the Senate to work out and pass a bill.
"Sometimes you have to get right up to the deadlines before somebody blinks," Ratliff said. "I don't know whether that's going to be the case this time or not."
The Senate stands adjourned until 9 a.m. Friday.