P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2001
AUSTIN -- Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, today offered her strong support for Governor Rick Perry's decision to authorize state health officials to begin combing their budget for $12.1 million in funding to confront bioterrorism.
"It is imperative that the health care community has a system in place to confront the bioterrorist threat, and I am grateful that Governor Perry has taken this step," said Senator Nelson, who began pushing for bioterrorism readiness in Texas long before the Sept. 11 attacks. "We need manpower and expertise working on this issue immediately. We need to send the experts out into the communities of Texas and train local health officials. It is absolutely critical that if, God forbid, there is an outbreak in Texas ...... we have a uniform medical response plan in place."
In a letter to Governor Perry dated October 11, Senator Nelson asked that discretionary funds be appropriated to help the medical community brace itself for a possible biological outbreak.
Her recent request parallels legislation she filed in the 2001 Legislature to help Texas prepare for bioterrorism. Senate Bill 94, which passed the Senate but stalled in the House, directed all local governments in Texas to create a bioterrorism readiness plan and designated the Texas Department of Health to provide local health agencies assistance in the preparation of these plans. Her proposal represented the recommendations of an interim study of biotechnology conducted by the Senate Health Services Committee, which Senator Nelson chaired.
The state health officials scouring the budget for bioterrorism funding will make fiscal recommendations to the Legislative Budget Board, which must approve funding transfers in the current budget. The state will also pursue federal funding for bioterrorism should such funds become available in the coming weeks.