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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
November 10, 2008
Contact: Celeste Villarreal
(512) 463-0121
Senator Zaffirini Pre-Files 45 Bills for 2009 Legislative Session
Legislation Prioritizes Higher Education, Pre-School, Health, Safety

(AUSTIN) - Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today pre-filed 45 bills for the 81st Texas Legislative Session that will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

"My bills focus on the priorities of the families of District 21, balanced with those of the families of our great state," Senator Zaffirini said. "Each is simply a starting point and will evolve through constructive negotiation that is the hallmark of the legislative process.

"Accordingly, I urge anyone interested in any of my bills to contact me or my staff immediately so that we can consider any suggestions for improvement."

Of the 45 bills filed by Senator Zaffirini, 11 are in higher education; 5, public education; 13, health and human services; and 6, juvenile and criminal justice. Others are in areas ranging from agriculture and transportation to the judiciary and technology. Her bills include the following:

  • SB 21, which would allow districts voluntarily to expand their half-day pre-kindergarten programs to a full-day for currently eligible 4-year-old children, while implementing certain quality enhancements. What's more, the bill would promote collaboration among districts and high-quality private child care and Head Start providers by requiring districts to use a portion of the state formula funding to partner for pre-kindergarten services.
  • SB 22, which would provide much needed financial relief to college students who are struggling to meet the rising costs of higher education by allowing them to purchase textbooks tax-free during the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.
  • SB 23, which would provide 12-month, continuous Medicaid eligibility for a child younger than 19 and require the child to remain eligible for medical assistance.
  • SB 24, which would eliminate the 60-day waiting period before a divorce is granted in cases where a spouse has been convicted of an offense in which assault or threats against the victim were made.
  • SB 25, which would provide statutory extension of the Promoting Independence Advisory Council (PIAC).
  • SB 26, which would provide that prosthetic and orthotic devices be included in health plans.
  • SB 27, which would assist persons with low-incomes to build a modest savings account, budget against unexpected expenses, and plan for future expenditures by authorizing the creation of a statewide Individual Development Account (IDA) program. IDAs would provide savings incentives and opportunities to eligible low-income, employed persons or households.
  • SB 28, which would combat the use of botnets-a collection of compromised computers used to perpetrate cybercrime.
  • SB 29, which would promote student safety by including cyberbullying as a form of bullying in student discipline policy. It would focus attention on this growing problem and give district administrators more leverage to discipline students who engage in bullying via electronic means.

More than 200 Senate bills are expected to be filed by the close of business today. Bills are numbered chronologically as they are filed, though 1-20 were reserved by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for his priorities, which include education, higher education, and health and human services.

Because hers were the first Senate bills filed for 2009, Senator Zaffirini's are numbered 21-65.

"Our pre-filing reflects how hard my staff and I worked during the interim, in spite of primary and general election campaigns," she said. "We look forward to filing additional bills, especially as we finalize the interim reports developed by the Senate Finance Higher Education and Senate Higher Education Subcommittees, which I chair."

Senator Zaffirini has passed 587 bills since 1987, including 72 during the 2007 session and 13 local bills in collaboration with constituents. She also has sponsored and passed 51 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 278 bills.

"I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and my colleagues in the legislature to enact these and other bills that will address priority issues such as education, health, human services, economic development, job creation, water, natural resources and the economy," Senator Zaffirini said. "The well-being of families and communities of Senate District 21 and Texas is my main focus."

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SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI represents Senate District 21, including 16 counties and northeast Bexar County. The highest ranking Hispanic and second-highest ranking senator in Texas, she chairs the Senate Finance Higher Education and Higher Education Subcommittees and is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Administration Committees.