SENATE APPROVES INSURANCE EDUCATION AND TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM MEASURES
|Senator Royce West of Dallas discusses his bill to launch pilot programs in the state's biggest urban areas to create community-based juvenile offender programs.|
(AUSTIN) — The Teachers' Retirement System of Texas would have greater flexibility to invest funds under a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday. Bill author Senator Robert Duncan has been a long-time advocate of reforming both the Teachers' and Employee Retirement system, which he believes are facing financial problems in the future. Senate Bill 1447 would attempt to minimize risk by allowing Retirement System trustees to choose from a broader range of funds and investment options. Duncan says this will protect the funds during economic downturns. "So that when we get into situations like we had in 2001, we don't suffer such a severe downside loss as we did back then," he said. The bill also authorizes the use of outside fund managers to add expertise to the fund's investment strategy.
The Senate also approved a bill intended to help educate Texans on health care options. Senate Bill 23, by Senator Jane Nelson, would create the TexLink system within the Texas Department of Insurance. TexLink would serve as a central resource for health insurance information, and could connect citizens and employers with health insurance resources in their regions. Nelson said educating the public is a good step toward increasing health coverage in Texas. "There is a real lack of awareness, especially among our small businesses, about the opportunity to pool with other businesses to leverage affordable health care," she said.
Other legislation passed by the Senate Wednesday includes:
- SB 887, by Seliger, would make the offense of injury of a child a "3-G" felony, meaning offenders would serve at least 50 percent of their sentence;
- SB 642, by West, would create a statewide system for the reporting of the purchase of regulated metals, in an effort to reduce the theft and resale of valuable metals, like copper;
- SB 1937, by Van de Putte, would launch an voluntary influenza school vaccination pilot program;
- SB 1295, by West, would create a community-based juvenile offender rehabilitation pilot program in large urban areas; and
- SB 583, by Patrick, would increase the waiting period to obtain a no-fault divorce from 60 to 90 days.