The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Lt. Governor Rick Perry referred over 100 bills to committees today. The bill to end social promotion, Senate Bill (SB) 1, is in the hands of the education committee chaired by Teel Bivins of Amarillo.
"I have always said my #1 priority is education," said Perry. "We will address the education needs of children of the state of Texas first. Then infrastructure, criminal justice and then we will address the issue of sending back a substantial amount of that surplus to the people of the State of Texas in the form of tax cuts."
Perry sent bills fighting drunk driving and illegal drugs to the Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by Senator Ken Armbrister of Victoria; tax cut legislation to the Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant; and abortion-related legislation to the Human Services Committee, chaired by Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.
Members of the Texas High School Rodeo Association were in the chamber today celebrating their title as national champions. The Senate adopted Senate Resolution (SR) 48 recognizing their victory last week.
During the session, Lt. Governor Perry introduced a visitor familiar with the chamber--former Texas Governor Preston Smith. He was in town for Lubbock day festivities hosted by Senator Robert L. Duncan of Lubbock. Smith served as Governor from 1969 to 1973 and as Lt. Governor from 1963 to 1969.
Senator Gonzalo Barrientos of Travis filed legislation to fight telemarketing fraud and unwanted telephone solicitation with a "Do Not Call" list. Senate Bill (SB) 120, and its companion, House Bill (HB) 537 carried by Debra Danburg of Houston, gives the Public Utility Commission (PUC) enforcement authority. They plan to set up a toll free number for consumers to report violations.
"There is a more serious side than having your dinner interrupted," said Barrientos." While we recognize telemarketing is a legitimate business, fraudulent telemarketers are scamming Texas consumers out of millions of dollars."
Representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons pledged their support. More than half the victims of telemarketing fraud are 50 years of age or older.
Austin mayor Kirk Watson was in attendance as Austin Senator Barrientos welcomed his fellow senators to the capitol city, and invite them to a celebration at the Austin Music Hall known as the Austin Bash.
Senator Rodney Ellis joined Representative Senfronia Thompson, both of Houston, to file hate crime legislation named for James Byrd Jr.; the victim of a racially-motivated murder in Jasper, Texas. Legislators say Senate Bill (SB) 275 broadens and clarifies hate crime laws already on the books, making those crimes easier to prosecute.
Senate Bill 275 will:
* Provide aid to small counties prosecuting hate murders.
* Clarify the definition of a hate crime, using language upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
* Assign a hate crimes director in the Attorney General's office.
* Require special training in investigating these types of offenses for law enforcement officers.
* Provide civil penalties for victims of hate crimes.
Governor George W. Bush will lay out his plan for Texas during his State of the State Address tomorrow morning. The Senate convenes tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. A joint session of the legislature will convene in the House at 11:00 a.m. for the State of the State Address.
1/27/99, Wednesday - Education Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.012
1/27/99, Wednesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
1/27/99, Wednesday - "State of the State" address by Governor George W. Bush at 11:00 a.m. in the House Chamber
1/28/99, Thursday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036