FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2017
(AUSTIN) — Capitol Inside, an online news service, on Wednesday named Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, among 10 Texas lawmakers designated "Best of the Legislature" for the 2017 legislative session.
Senator Zaffirini is one of only two Democrats who made the publication's top 10, and the only Senate Democrat. Capitol Inside editor Mike Hailey recognized her ability to be effective as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled legislature, writing "Zaffirini—a Laredo Democrat who'd been one of the most effective lawmakers in Texas as a majority party member in the 1990s—has been just as good if not better in the era of GOP rule."
Recognizing Senator Zaffirini for passing 109 pieces of legislation—more than any other legislator—Hailey praised her legendary work ethic, writing that she "reaffirmed her distinction this year as the hardest working lawmaker in Texas in three decades at least."
"Instead of harboring grudges and seeking revenge, Zaffirini focused her energy on the attainable and made it a point to steer clear of partisan warfare and the bitter feuding between the House and the Senate this year," Hailey added.
Capitol Inside recognized Senator Zaffirini for overcoming opposition to pass major legislation, including bills improving the state's guardianship system, a statewide ban on texting-while-driving and a plan to dismantle the modern-day "debtors' prison" system that jails thousands of low-income Texans for no reason other than their inability to pay fines.
What's more, Hailey wrote, "Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht turned to the South Texas Senate Democrat to carry the torch on the issues that he viewed as the state's highest judicial priorities here this year."
He added that if Lt. Governor Dan Patrick hadn’t been named MVP, Republican Senators Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound; Chair of Finance) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston; Chair of State Affairs) and Democratic Senator Zaffirini “could have been co-MVPs.”
"The towering stack of Zaffirini bills on the governor's desk is a tangible monument to the difference between the power that position bestows and influence that's a cumulative product of experience, skill, relationships, work ethic and the sheer will to succeed when it comes to making law," Hailey concluded.
In 2015 Capitol Inside reported that Senator Zaffirini had passed more bills than any other legislator in Texas history. After this session, she has passed 1,003, excluding 29 that have been vetoed since 1987.
Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, she has won more than 900 awards and honors for her legislative, professional and civic accomplishments. They include being named to the "All Decades Teams" for the 2000s and the 1990s by Capitol Inside and a Hero of Hope by the Laredo Morning Times. She received the "People's Friend: Lord's Work Award" from the Texas Observer, and The University of Texas at Austin named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2003; an Outstanding Alumna of the Moody College of Communication in 2016; awarded her the Presidential Citation in 2013; and inducted her into the UT Daily Texan’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Texas Monthly has named Senator Zaffirini one of Texas' "10 Best Legislators" four times and given her the "Bull of the Brazos" award and an "Honorable Mention."
The senator is the namesake of Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library and Texas A&M International University's Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, as well as of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School in Laredo and the AAMA Judith Zaffirini Residential Center in Edinburg.
Her son, Carlos Jr., endowed scholarships in her name at The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas A&M International University. He also established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative, which pays for bar review courses and exam fees for low-income UT law school graduates who, in turn, will represent low-income clients. What’s more, the Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring Senator Zaffirini and her husband at A&M International, where the annual Senator Judith Zaffirini Medal is presented to faculty and students who excel in scholarship and leadership. The senator is featured in 25 books and referenced in 19.
Capitol Inside's overview of the "Best of the Legislature" and its article about Senator Zaffirini are available on its website, www.capitolinside.com.
SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo was named "Best of the Legislature" for 2017 by Capitol Inside, an online news service.