P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2010
AUSTIN — Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and other legislators today pre-filed bills for consideration by the 82nd Regular Session of the Legislature, which is scheduled from January 11, 2011, to May 30, 2011. To learn more about bills filed in the pre-filing period, visit www.capitol.state.tx.us.
"Our primary focus must be balancing the budget without a tax increase, and I am proposing bills to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse in state government," Senator Nelson said. "We need to draw fair and legal legislative districts. We must continue to advance our regional priorities on education, transportation and public safety."
Senator Nelson filed 17 bills. Several focused on streamlining government, combating fraud and more efficient use of state resources. She also continued her ongoing legislative efforts to protect consumers, promote truth in school grades and curb domestic abuse. Among the bills she pre-filed today:
Obsolete and Redundant Reporting Requirements: SB 71 eliminates requirements for various health and human services reports that are no longer needed or redundant. "This bill can help ensure that resources and time are being committed to Texas' current priorities."
Health Care Efficiency: SB 72 prevents over-utilization of services and streamlines the licensing and contracting process to promote competition and ease the administrative burden on certain health care providers. "We need to ensure that these services are going where they were intended and are truly needed."
Cancer Research Funding: SB 73 uses the same amount of debt services to fund greater bond revenues for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. "We can better fund the cancer institute while limiting our bond costs by allowing greater flexibility in debt service."
Computer Donations: SB 74 allows universities to donate extra computer equipment to rural hospitals for health information technology. "Health information technology is an increasingly important part of providing health care. We need to ensure that rural hospitals have the resources and tools to continue to provide quality health care."
Background Checks: SB 75 requires FBI fingerprint checks for employees of certain facilities licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services that care for the elderly or disabled. "Technology has reached the point where we should not have individuals with serious criminal histories falling through the cracks of our background checks, especially those working with seniors and individuals with disabilities."
Relative Day Care: SB 76 requires FBI background checks for relatives who provide unregulated child care and receive federal subsidies. "I filed this bill in response to reports that taxpayer dollars were winding up in the hands of people with serious criminal histories and, in some cases, individuals who were not actually providing care. We must fight this type of waste and abuse, which robs us of resources needed to assist those who are truly deserving."
Fraud in Food Programs: SB 77 requires performance bonds for contractors who receive federal funds through the Texas Department of Agriculture to provide food at child and adult day cares and allows TDA to perform criminal background checks on these contractors. "These requirements will protect taxpayer dollars and avoid situations such as what occurred in North Texas, when a contractor collected funds but failed to deliver meals to day cares."
Interagency Licensing: SB 78 allows state health and human services agencies to share information about adverse licensing decisions and gives agencies authority to deny an application based on another agency's decision. "If a license holder's privileges are revoked by one agency, other agencies should seek out this information to ensure that they do not issue a license to those who have put people in danger."
Minimum Grade: SB 79 reinforces a state judge's ruling this spring that Texas law is "unambiguous" in prohibiting grade inflation for assignment, cumulative average, and report card grades. "The Legislature unanimously passed a measure last session to prohibit minimum grade practices, which reward minimum effort from students and keep parents from having a clear picture of their children's school performance. This bill makes clear that school districts must discontinue practices of artificially inflating student averages."
Public Health Labs: SB 80 implements financial reporting, accounting, collection and confidentiality improvements at the state Public Health Labs. "These reforms will help our state labs operate efficiently and in a way that protects citizen's information and state revenues."
Food Safety: SB 81 requires all entities that harvest, package, wash or ship raw produce, except for small farmers, to be licensed and regulated by the Department of State Health Services. "Consumers need better protection from food-borne illnesses that may arise from fresh produce."
Stalking: SB 82 alters the stalking statute to make stalking behavior easier to prove. "The connection between stalking and physical or sexual abuse -- and in many cases, murder -- is staggering. This law will ensure that prosecutors have the tools at their disposal to effectively prove this charge and to get a victim out of harm's way before it is too late."
Bigamy: SB 83 increases the statute of limitations for bigamy from 3 to 7 years, unless the victim was younger than 18 years old, in which case it would be 10 years from the victim's 18th birthday. "While investigating the situation in Eldorado in 2008, the Attorney General's Office discovered a gap involving individuals who didn't realize their victimization until they reached their 20's."
E-Verify: SB 84 requires all state and local governmental entities in Texas and their contractors to participate in E-Verify, the Employment Eligibility Verification Program. "This will effectively ensure that Texas employs a legal workforce."
Jury Selection: SB 85 makes a county voter registrar responsible for maintaining a list of permanent jury duty exemptions instead of the county tax assessor/collector. "This is a common sense approach to improve the efficiency of county government functions, which is particularly important in a tough budget cycle."
Scofflaw Program: SB 86 allows smaller cities to participate in the scofflaw program, created by the Legislature in 1997, to use vehicle registrations to locate drivers with outstanding warrants for unpaid traffic violations. "It makes sense for all of our state's municipalities to have the same tools to pursue outstanding warrants for traffic violations."
State's Rights: SCR 1 resolves that Texas has certain rights under the 10th Amendment. "I strongly support our state's rights, which are guaranteed by the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The federal government has placed too many restrictions and unfunded mandates onto states, especially recently."