AUSTIN - In a letter addressed to the Senate today, January 27, 2003, Governor Rick Perry submitted a list of emergency matters to be immediately considered by the 78th Legislature. Perry wrote that if the healthcare concerns listed in his letter are not addressed soon, "the medical malpractice crisis will do lasting damage to the practice of medicine in Texas and undermine the access Texans have to the quality, affordable health care they need."
Perry deems legislation related to homeowners and automobile insurance regulation imperative as well. He wants to allow the Commissioner of Insurance to "address practices where the market has malfunctioned, including the ability to raise rates, stabilize the insurance marketplace, increase competition, end unfair pricing practices, and stop fraud and abuse within the system."
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst once again addressed reducing state spending in an informal press conference today, saying that they are asking the agency heads for their help to save money. "As a former agency head myself, I'd rather not micro-manage the process. Let the agency heads make a determination as to where they can come up with the savings," said Dewhurst.
The Lieutenant Governor also discussed the subject of homeland security. When asked about the bills that have been passed in the House that exempt state, city, or government agencies from disclosing emergency preparedness plans on the Open Records Act, Dewhurst answered by saying that he supports open records and open government. "A community's plan on how to respond is something that ought to be communicated to the community so that people know what to do in case of emergency. There have been some concerns in our hearings on homeland security, however, on the location of certain chemicals and detailed engineering on nuclear power plans, water purification systems, and I'm not even sure that that should be kept on a confidential basis," said Dewhurst.
As for the issue of state universities having more flexibility in setting their tuition and fees, the Lieutenant Governor had this to say: "At the end of the day, we want to make sure that all of our universities are affordable for all Texans."
Also today, a resolution sponsored by Senator Tommy Williams from the Woodlands passed declaring January 27, 2003 as Orange County Day at the Capitol. Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. from Brownsville introduced the unanimously passed resolutions to extend condolences to the family of Alfred Palousek and to commend Tejano musician Noe Pro.
Before adjournment, Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw read the Senate Committee Referral Report for Senate Bills 12-100.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, January 28, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.