Brimer, Harris, and Dewhurst Committed to Supporting UT-Arlington
Austin - At a Capitol press conference today, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, along with Fort Worth Senator Kim Brimer and Arlington Senator Chris Harris, announced a "win-win" deal in which the University of Texas (UT) System Board of Regents has agreed to better support UT-Arlington . UT Regents Chairman Charles Miller has told the senators that the UT system is launching a new program designed to ensure that the Arlington campus becomes a "Top Tier" research institution and will receive major support from the System in fund raising, recruiting faculty and developing its facilities.
Dewhurst, Brimer, and Harris have committed to meet with the UT System every six months for a review to ensure that the covenants reached between the Tarrant County community and the UT System are fulfilled.
Harris said that the problems began back in December when UT-Arlington considered pulling out of the UT System to keep the campus from losing the momentum and excellence that it has gained in recent years. "Fortunately, after long and difficult discussions, we were able to make the UT System realize what they might lose: an institution that far exceeds any other campus in enrollment numbers and research expenditures," stated Harris.
Also today, Dewhurst briefed reporters on tomorrow's meeting of the Texas Senate as a Committee of the Whole. This allows the Senators to work under committee rules instead of having to abide by stricter session rules. The thirty-one Senators will be meeting in the Chamber at 9 a.m. Friday, May 2nd, 2003, to take up and consider Senate Bill (SB) 2, the school finance bill. Dewhurst said he expects to spend almost the entire day on it because the committee will be hearing from an invited panel of educators, school superintendents, school administrators, school board members, citizens, and businesses, as well as the public.
"At the end of the day, I think, most taxpayers want to see their local property taxes reduced and they want to see a broader base of funding for our public schools, and that's exactly what we do here in SB 2," said Dewhurst. According to the Lieutenant Governor, SB 2 has strong support from both homeowners and businesses, who pay over half of the property taxes.
During session today, the Senate passed the Committee Substitute to SB 1522, which would delay the implementation of twelve months of continuous eligibility in the children's Medicaid program. The measure, authored by Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini, would change the effective date from June 1, 2003 to June 1, 2005.
The Senate also approved of the Committee Substitute to Senate Concurring Resolution 20, authored by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh. The resolution urges the Congress of the United States to fund one-stop border vehicle inspection facilities. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration find that Texas has seven of the nation's 10 busiest southern border crossings, with 12,000 trucks transporting $290 million in goods through Texas ports of entry and border commercial zones daily.
The Senate passed the following legislation in today's session:
- SB 6, by San Antonio Senator Leticia Van de Putte, would extend the period in which a lottery prize may be claimed for certain military personnel.
- SB 739, by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis, would clarify that aggregate data about performance measures and outcomes of the newborn hearing screening program is not confidential and may be disclosed.
- SB 1464, by Houston Senator John Lindsay, would authorize the Harris County Toll Road Authority and the Harris County Commissioners Court to impose an administrative cost for the collection of unpaid tolls.
- SB 1470, by Dallas Senator Royce West, would modify the high school equivalency program operated by a school district or open-enrolled charter school.
- SB 1490, by Bryan Senator Steve Ogden, would require an investigating agency to videotape or audiotape any interview with a child alleged to be a victim of physical or sexual abuse, unless a parent of the child is able to observe the interview or agrees in writing to allow the interview to proceed without being taped.
- SB 1615, by Ellis, would require the Health and Human Services Commission to create an interpreter services pilot program for Medicaid recipients.
- SB 1828, by Waco Senator Kip Averitt, would amend statutes governing the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
The Senate will reconvene Friday, May 2, 2003, at 9:00 a.m. to meet as a Committee of the Whole Senate.