FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2019
(AUSTIN) —The Texas Legislature adjourned its 2019 regular session today (Monday), with Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, having passed 127 bills since January and extending her consecutive votes to 64,330 since January, 1987.
No other legislator has passed more bills in a single session, according to digital records dating back 50 years. The highest-ranking woman senator has passed 1,160 bills and substantive resolutions since 1987, more than any other legislator in the history of the State of Texas. She also is the highest bill-passer for the third consecutive session, breaking her personal best of 108 bills (2017).
"As a Democrat in a Republican-controlled legislature, I believe this proves the bipartisanship of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. We pass very few bills strictly along party lines," Senator Zaffirini said. "Accordingly, I am very grateful to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, legislative colleagues and staff."
The senator worked closely with the Texas Judicial Council to pass several priority bills to improve Texas' guardianship system, ranging from SB 31, which establishes the Guardianship Abuse, Fraud, and Exploitation Deterrence Program, to SB 536, which establishes regional specialty courts to ensure oversight of guardianship cases by judges and staff with relevant expertise. What's more, her SB 667 authorizes public guardian programs to ensure every Texan who needs a guardian has one.
She continued her efforts to promote access to justice by ensuring alternatives to jail time for fine-only offenses, such as community service and payment plans, for those unable to pay court costs, as well as streamlining costs, fines, and fees in criminal courts (SB 346); and increasing the damages that may be awarded to elderly victims of Internet-based fraud (HB 883).
Her bills relating to higher education include SB 38, which improves the statutory definition of hazing, facilitates the prosecution of egregious cases, and ensures colleges and universities are transparent regarding hazing; and SB 1504, which authorizes using the $126.8 million remaining in the B-on-Time Student Loan account to improve outcomes for at-risk students through investment in student success and financial aid.
As a member of the Business and Commerce committee, Senator Zaffirini protected her constituents' economic interests by passing SB 37, which prohibits revoking suspending, or failing to renew occupational licenses of persons in default on their student loans; HB 2697, which addresses "coerced debt" by providing victims of family violence and financial abuse tools to repair their credit and more easily leave abusive situations; and a package of bills (HB 2624, HB 2625, and HB 2945) to address credit card skimming at gas stations, a constant issue for Texas consumers.
The senator also improved health and human services for Texans by creating a pilot program to allow children to travel with their low-income pregnant mothers to doctors' appointments (HB 25), collecting data for a study regarding staff-to-child ratios in childcare settings (SB 708), and ensuring that defendants who may have a mental illness or intellectual disability are interviewed timely by an expert (HB 601) and moved to more appropriate treatment facilities, rather than spending months in a county jail (SB 562).
Additional legislation passed by Senator Zaffirini this session authorizes legal aid services for veterans and establishes the Texas Veterans County Service Officer Task Force to better leverage local resources (SB 2104); requires children under two to sit in rear-facing car seats, with certain exceptions (HB 448); encourages proper recycling and reduces contamination, as well as addressing market demand for recyclables (SB 649); and creates a new clemency application process for victims of human trafficking who commit crimes under duress (HB 3078).
"Persistence and resilience are keys to passing meaningful legislation," Senator Zaffirini said. "I passed my hazing bill, for example, on the fifth attempt in 14 years; Guardianship Abuse, Fraud, and Exploitation Deterrence on my second try; public guardian programs after 20 years; and requiring rear-facing car seats for children under two on my third attempt. Our efforts occasionally are thwarted temporarily, but we persist in passing legislation that protects our vulnerable fellow Texans."
Senator Zaffirini's legislation addresses the diverse interests and needs of Senate District 21."I always am guided by my constituents' priorities," she said. "My staff and I already are working with stakeholders to re-file worthy legislation that failed this session. We welcome suggestions and collaboration, especially from constituents, whose feedback has resulted in some of my best legislation."
Senator Zaffirini's legendary work ethic is reflected in her career-long 100 percent voting record and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She is the second highest-ranking senator and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic in the Texas Senate.
SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, passed 127 bills during the 2019 legislative session, making her the legislature's top bill-passer for the third consecutive session and surpassing the number passed by any Texas legislator in a single session.