The Budget and Twenty Bills Dominate Senate Session
Austin - Chair of the Finance Committee, Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins, met with reporters after today's session to discuss the Comptroller's response to the appropriations bill passed by the Senate yesterday. Bivins said that her statement gives him some hope that the budget will pass because she didn't say no. The comptroller must first certify the budget before it is sent to the Governor for review and signature.
Today, many of the Senators spoke on Senate Resolution 655, which honors the veterans who fought on behalf of our country in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest land battle in which Americans fought during World War II. Authoring Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio introduced her father and uncle, as well as five other WWII veterans who appeared on the Senate floor.
The Senate unanimously approved legislation today that would increase the offense for driving with a child, while intoxicated. Under current law, that person could be charged with child endangerment, a felony, and the lesser crime of DWI would not be prosecuted. Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini's SB 45 would make DWI with a child a felony with a maximum penalty of two years in prison with an optional fine of up to $10,000.
The following bills were also approved by the Senate today:
- HB 1065, sponsored by Waco Senator Kip Averitt, would specify that the common law doctrine of incompatibility does not apply to a water district directorship and a political subdivision officer or employee in a district with a population of less than 50,000.
- SB 76, by Senator Zaffirini, would allow certain state agencies to coordinate with early childhood development program providers regarding pre-kindergarten, Head Start, and after school child-care programs, and to streamline eligibility and registration procedures for such programs. It would also require the establishment of an advisory committee on child-care coordination to evaluate the feasibility of coordinating child-care programs.
- SB 305, by Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, would authorize chiropractors licensed in Texas and adjacent states to complete requests for temporary handicapped parking placards.
- SB 315, by McAllen Senator Juan Hinojosa, would expand the taxing district for Del Mar Community College to cover its service area if a majority of registered voters in those areas to be annexed vote for the expansion in a general election.
- SB 379, by Armbrister, would allow a magistrate or a retired magistrate to perform a marriage ceremony.
- SB 525, by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh, would require each state agency to designate an individual to be the wellness coordinator for the agency to be authorized to collaborate with other agencies and sources to provide information and resources to employees.
- SB 585, by Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan, would add remediation, cleanup, and closure of unpermitted solid waste facilities to the list of activities that qualify for Texas Commission of Environmental Quality grants that are funded by the municipal solid waste superfund.
- SB 619, by Armbrister, would provide for the consolidation of all spill cleanup duties to the General Land Office.
- SB 658, by Fort Worth Senator Kim Brimer, would make permanent the exemption from ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles leased for personal use.
- SB 786, by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh, would require the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House to establish a border community trade task force of each of the four municipalities with the largest populations in the border region. The task force would be used to identify procedural and infrastructure barriers to the flow of commerce between the United States and Mexico at ports-of-entry and study procedures to expedite the process.
- SB 800, by San Antonio Senator Frank Madla, would expedite the opening of Texas A&M University in San Antonio if it's enrollment numbers reach 2,500 students for one semester.
- SB 1107, by Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan, would require certain qualifications for retired judges to sit as a visiting judge on the appellate bench and make provisions for salaries for visiting judges.
- SB 1180, by Dallas Senator Royce West, would create an index of court fees, costs, and penalties to be located in the Government Code.
- SB 1273, by Victoria Senator Ken Armbrister, would delete the requirement that Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission consider the economic impact a suspension would have on a licensee or permitee when assessing civil penalties.
- SB 1377, by Armbrister, would prohibit an underground water conservation district from discriminating against farms within the district because the farms are in a federal crop reserve program and provide that this prohibition does not apply to the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
- SB 1548, by Houston Senator Kyle Janek, would redefine "time-out" in the Education Code, require reasonable documentation regarding the use of restraint and time-out, with a provision for a waiver, and would exempt certain persons and certain circumstances from restrictions regarding restraint and time-out.
- SB 1588, by Houston Senator John Whitmire, would provide protection of college savings plans from attachment, execution, and seizure to satisfy debt.
- SB 1606, by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis, would remove a requirement to establish a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan. Effective September 1, 2005, one of the requirements would be that at least 25 percent of the qualified homeowners applying to the Market Assistance Program have not been placed with an insurer for the previous six-month period.
- SB 1876, by Mount Pleasant Senator Bill Ratliff, would establish eligibility for the Texas Department of Transportation's conditional grant program based on "economic disadvantage" instead of race and gender.
The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 1, 2003, at 8:00 a.m. to consider the Local & Uncontested Calendar and at 11:00 a.m. for session.