Zaffirini files 30 Senate bills for new session

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Monday pre-filed the first 30 Senate Bills of the 83rd Texas Legislative Session that will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Monday is the first day lawmakers can pre-file legislation for the upcoming Legislative Session.

"Filing legislation early is critical to advancing the priorities of Senate District 21 families," Zaffirini said. "Count on me to continue to champion early and higher education and health and human services, including for the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities. Job creation, transportation and public safety in the Eagle Ford Shale also will be key issues during our next session."

Of the 30 bills filed by Zaffirini, 13 relate to health and human services; 7, higher education; and 7, public education. Her bills include:

Senate Bill (SB) 26, which would authorize the issuance of Tuition Revenue Bonds (TRBs) for capital construction projects at Texas colleges and universities. SB 27, which would improve the B-On-Time Loan program that provides eligible students no-interest loans to attend college. SB 28, which would prohibit texting while driving, thereby increasing safety on Texas' roadways -- similar to the House Bill filed by Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, on Monday. SB 29, which would create a waiver for medically fragile children to continue to receive critical services after they age out of the medically dependent child waiver program. SB 36, which would prohibit holding a person with a mental health illness in a jail instead of at a mental health facility SB 37, which would enhance transition and employment services for students enrolled in special education programs SB 40, which would change Texas' immunization registry to a voluntary opt-out, instead of the current opt-in, thereby ensuring better tracking of immunization records SB 42, which would require the tracking of information related to bilingual education students SB 46, which would limit sales tax on college and university textbooks SB 51, which would allow victims of sexual assault to receive unemployment for time off due to the assault.

Bills are numbered chronologically as they are filed, though 1-25 were reserved by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for his priorities.

Because hers were the first Senate bills filed for 2013, Zaffirini's are numbered 26-55.

"Working purposefully to reach out to our 18 Senate District 21 counties,” she said, “my staff and I collaborate with stakeholders and constituents to craft a legislative agenda that reflects the needs and interests of our district. We will file additional legislation, especially as we finalize reports developed by the Senate Government Organization Committee, which I chair, and the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which I co-chair."

Zaffirini has passed 725 bills since 1987, including 79 during the 2011 session. She also has sponsored and passed 52 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 384 bills.

"Constituent feedback is essential, especially because some of my best bills were suggested by constituents," she said. "Accordingly, I urge anyone interested in the legislative process to contact me or my staff so that we can consider any suggestions for improvement or additional legislation. Effective communication enhances my ability to advocate effectively for constituents."

Zaffirini also is a member of the Legislative Budget Board and of the Senate Higher Education, Finance, Economic Development, Health and Human Services and Administration committees.

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Republican Rick Perry is Governor of Texas. Two Republicans represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, and Texas has 32 representatives in the U.S. House: 20 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
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