FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2021
(AUSTIN)—Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, passed 106 bills during the 87th Regular Legislative Session, 81 of which become effective Sept. 1 (Wednesday). Her legislation ranges from addressing timely issues such as COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri to expanding her longstanding priorities of education, public safety and guardianship.
"2020 presented novel challenges that compelled my staff and me to adapt our legislative approach," she said. "Flexibility, collaboration and problem-solving enabled our productive session."
COVID-19 outbreaks and power outages in nursing homes, for example, inspired two of her newly effective bills: Senate Bill (SB) 930 requires disclosure of the occurrence and number of cases of a communicable disease in long-term care facilities, and House Bill (HB) 1423 mandates regular, unannounced inspections of these facilities.
During the pandemic Texas' unemployment rate surged to a record-high of 12.9 percent, inundating the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) with requests for assistance. Accordingly, Senator Zaffirini filed an unemployment reform package comprising SB 695, SB 2099 and SB 1801, which authorizes TWC to serve notices of assessment to employers via certified mail; guarantees that claimants inquiring about their benefits will receive a timely return phone call or email from TWC; and diversifies the acceptable methods for Texans to repay overpaid benefits, respectively.
A proponent of enhancing public safety and reducing violent crime, Senator Zaffirini passed SB 957, which prevents crime victims from being denied benefits from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund for failure to talk to the police at the crime scene or the hospital; and HB 103, which establishes a statewide Active Shooter Alert System. She also sponsored and passed HB 39, which ensures protective orders are enforced adequately and issued timely; and HB 375, which makes the sexual abuse of a person with a disability who cannot consent a first-degree felony.
"Although we can't right the wrongs survivors of these heinous crimes faced, we can provide them with a sense of justice," she said. "My prayer is that survivors and their families find peace and healing and that these laws will preclude future tragedies."
Other new laws taking effect in September include a suite of guardianship reform bills that adopt recommendations from probate court judges (SB 615) and the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas (SB 626); establish a guardianship mediation training course (SB 1129); and create specialized guardianship courts (HB 79).
"I look forward to monitoring the implementation of these laws to ensure Texans benefit from their effect," she said. "I'm delighted to see the bills my staff and I devoted months—and, in many cases, years—to finally improving the quality of life for Texans in Senate District 21 and throughout our great state."
Senator Zaffirini’s additional bills effective Sept. 1 include:
- SB 45, extending sexual harassment protections to employees of businesses with 15 or fewer employees;
- SB 884, transferring The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's Laredo Campus to The UT System;
- SB 959, requiring the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to consider achievement in qualified continuing workforce education programs when recommending performance-based funding;
- SB 1019, disaggregating student loan data demographically, including by race and gender;
- HB 33, facilitating the award of postsecondary course credit leading to workforce credentialing based on military experience, education and training;
- HB 119, prohibiting discrimination against organ donors on the basis of disability;
- HB 428, mandating health insurance coverage of ovarian cancer screenings;
- HB 604, requiring animal shelters to scan pets in their custody for microchips;
- HB 700, awarding college credit to foster youth who complete the Preparation for Adult Living Program;
- HB 780, establishing a statewide bone marrow donor recruitment program;
- HB 1434, requiring a doctor to obtain a patient's informed consent before performing a pelvic exam;
- HB 2058, ensuring children in the foster care system have access to age-appropriate normalcy activities; and
- HB 3529, amending the civil definition of identity theft to include coerced debt.
81 BILLS BY SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-LAREDO, TAKE EFFECT SEPT. 1. The second-highest ranking member and highest-ranking female and Hispanic member of the Texas Senate, she passed 106 bills during the 87th Regular Legislative Session. Her legendary work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent voting record, having cast more than 65,000 consecutive votes.