Tightened Security and Prayers for Our Troops at the Capitol
Austin (Thursday, March 20, 2003) - Security was tightened around the Texas Capitol today with the advent of last nights U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Access to the east and west gates of the Capitol has been restricted and metal detectors were installed at all entrances.
A large crowd gathered in the Capitol Rotunda this morning for a special service on behalf of our troops. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Governor Rick Perry, and Speaker of the House Tom Craddick offered their support to those men and women risking their lives to defend freedom. The governor declared today a day of prayer in the State of Texas.
Senator Rodney Ellis met with religious and community leaders at a Capitol press conference today to oppose recently filed legislation that would weaken the right to legal defense for people who cannot afford it. This week marks the fortieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Courts historic Gideon v. Wainwright decision establishing the constitutional right to appointed defense counsel for poor people accused of a crime but unable to hire a lawyer.
In session today, the Senate unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Horseshoe Bay Senator Troy Fraser aimed at combating identity fraud. Committee Substitute to Senate Bill (CSSB) 235 would prohibit printing the expiration date and more than the last four numbers of a credit or debit card account number on a receipt.
Legislation sponsored by Addison Senator Florence Shapiro directed at providing relief to backlogged courts was also passed by the Senate today. CSSB 358 would give a county judge of a county with a population of two million or more the option to appoint magistrates to hear truancy cases.
Also passed today was SB 486, which would require the Texas Department of Health to work with public and private partnerships to increase awareness of early childhood immunizations. The bill would also limit the liability of private providers that participate in immunization programs. The legislation introduced to the Senate by Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini is based on one of Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorns e-Texas recommendations.
- CSSB 510, by Senator Todd Staples of Palestine, which would exempt certain travel trailers from ad valorem taxation.
- CSSB 535, by Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio, attempts to prevent the proliferation of colonias-- unincorporated subdivisions that lack basic services--by providing the necessary regulatory authority to border counties.
- Another bill by Zaffirini, CSSB 589, would clarify the roles of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Texas School for the Deaf.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 24, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.