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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
January 14, 2009
Contact: Celeste Villarreal
(512) 463-0121
Senator Zaffirini Files Bills Spanning System Benefit Fund, Children's Immunization, Airport Funding, Emergency Service District Boards

(AUSTIN) — Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, filed legislation on Tuesday (Jan.13) to reconstitute the system benefit fund as a trust fund, give parents options for immunizing their children, secure aviation facilities development and establish the title of members of boards of emergency services districts.

“These bills focus on the priorities 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.”

Senate Bill (SB) 464 would ensure that the System Benefit Fund, created in 1999 with electricity deregulation, will be used for its intended purposes of providing electric rate discounts and home weatherization upgrades to reduce electric bills of low-income customers. Since 2003 funds received through the System Benefit Fund have been diverted from these programs and applied to other state budget needs.

SB 465 would change the title of members of emergency service district boards from "commissioner" to "director" to alleviate public confusion between the roles and responsibilities of Emergency Service Districts and the County Commissioners Courts.

SB 466 would protect voluntary exclusion rights of those who do not want to participate in the Texas Immunization Registry, while increasing the number of persons who are vaccinated fully. This is responsible public health policy that will decrease societal risk and exposure to increasing outbreaks of preventable diseases and their long-term impact. What’s more, this measure will require persons to demonstrate personal responsibility for ensuring their exclusion from the system.

SB 467 would take any sales tax revenue generated from aviation or air traffic-related sales and place it in a special airport development fund. If passed, the bill would provide up to $50 million for airports statewide, more than three times the amount that the Texas Department of Transportation provides currently for airport funding.

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 Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and my colleagues in the legislature to enact these and other bills that will address priority issues such as health, human services, economic development 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 second-highest ranking senator in Texas, she was first elected in 1986.