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Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas
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Texas Senate
March 31, 2003  
(512) 463-0300

Lucio Introduces the Texas Schoolchildren's Nutrition and Health Act

Senator Jon Lindsay listens during floor debate on Senate Bill 366, which he sponsored
Senator Jon Lindsay listens during floor debate on Senate Bill 366, which he sponsored.

Austin - Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio introduced legislation which would restrict students' access to vending machines to combat what he called the growing crisis of childhood obesity. Lucio said Senate Bill (SB) 474 is a "first step in the right direction for our children" and will be heard during tomorrow's Senate Education Committee meeting. According to Lucio, the act will provide sensible guidelines for vending machines and addresses the growing problem of nutrition-related chronic diseases caused by obesity. "Our children should not be developing diseases we see among our senior citizens," said Lucio, saying that many overweight children have already developed Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, asthma, and certain cancers.

Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs spoke alongside Lucio at today's Capitol press conference to urge soft drink companies to stop opposing SB 474, the Texas Schoolchildren's Nutrition and Health Act of 2003. "With the nation and state in the midst of an obesity epidemic that threatens the health of our current and future generations, it is unforgivable that these soft drink companies want to continue to push high-sugar, low nutritive-value products on our kids," said Combs. She said that school districts are encouraged by contracts with venders to put money ahead of the health of children because the schools raise more money from the sale of sodas than from the sale of healthier alternatives, such as water, milk, or juice.

The Senate approved passage of three bills in session today. The first, Committee Substitute to Senate Bill (CSSB) 693 by Houston Senator Mario Gallegos, would create statewide standards and procedures to be applied to the use of flame effects and pyrotechnics. In addition to the current National Fire Protection Association standards, CSSB 693 would require additional safeguards, call for licensed operators, and make it mandatory to obtain a permit in order to use such effects.

In addition, the full Senate unanimously approved SB 115, sponsored by San Antonio Senator Leticia Van de Putte. The legislation would require insurers to provide written notice of any changes in types of coverages and premium costs to policy holders upon renewal and gives the commissioner of insurance enforcement authority.

The Senate also passed SB 144, sponsored by Waco Senator Kip Averitt, aimed at creating a heightened awareness of the abuse and misuse of certain prescription drugs, especially pain medications. The bill would require governing boards of several health professions to provide their members with information about prescribing pain medications and addiction.

Also introduced to the Senate floor was SB 366, by Houston Senator Jon Lindsay. The bill would allow Harris county to set a fee, not to exceed the cost of the program, for issuing permits for on-premise signs. Senator John Whitmire, also of Houston, was clearly opposed to the bill, saying that it would be burdensome to businesses in Harris county. The bill was passed to engrossment.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 1, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.