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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
November 14, 2022
Contact: Laura Felix
Senator Judith Zaffirini Pre-Files 44 Bills for 88th Legislative Session
Legislation Emphasizes Healthcare, Education and Government Transparency

(AUSTIN)—Consistent with her tradition, Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was first in line to pre-file legislation Monday (Nov. 14) for the 88th Texas Legislative Session that convenes Jan. 10.

She pre-filed 44 bills, reflecting her dedication to the constituents of Senate District 21 and the urgency with which we must address these issues. Her legislation reflects her longstanding priorities of education, especially early and higher education; and healthcare, especially for the very young, the very old, persons with disabilities and veterans.

"Although working hard to be re-elected last Tuesday, 62-36 percent, I worked even harder with my staff to develop these 44 bills to pre-file on Monday. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to address myriad issues and build a safer, more prosperous and more equitable Texas,” Senator Zaffirini said.

A lifelong advocate for accessible, affordable health care, she filed Senate Bill (SB) 39 and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 6, which would expand Medicaid services to persons at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $38,295 annually or $3,191.25 monthly for a family of four). She also filed SB 51, which would improve accessibility to high-quality hearing aids; and SB 52, which would ensure caregivers can visit family members at state hospitals.

Reflecting her belief that mental health is as important as physical health, Senator Zaffirini filed SB 47, which would increase the availability of mental health counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists; and SB 63, which would direct the Texas Health and Human Services and the Veterans commissions to promulgate a guide regarding caring for veterans with mental illnesses.

“Healthcare, including mental healthcare, is a right—not a privilege,” Senator Zaffirini said. “We must do more to make this basic care affordable and accessible for all Texans.”

Always a champion of higher education, she filed SBs 34 and 35, which would establish tuition-free colleges and universities for students with household incomes less than $100,000. Relatedly, her SB 36 would reinstate her B-on-Time Student Loan Program, which offered zero-interest student loans that could be forgiven for students who earned their degrees timely and with a GPA of at least 3.0.

“Higher education is a key to success,” Senator Zaffirini said. “The future of our state will be brighter if leaders of tomorrow earn their degrees today.”

She also believes that childhood education is the best predictor of academic success, beginning with first grade and extending through higher education. Accordingly, Senator Zaffirini filed SB 38, which would establish universal pre- kindergarten by extending current eligibility to 3-year-olds.

"Retired teachers have not received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their benefits since 2004 and get an average of only $2,100 per month," Senator Zaffirini said. To recruit great teachers and reward those who have committed their lives to this noble profession, her SB 33 would provide a one-time, 10 percent COLA with subsequent annual increases based on inflation if the Teacher Retirement System of Texas has the funds to cover them.

A 2021 recipient of the Texas Press Association’s Champion of Transparency award, Senator Zaffirini pre-filed five bills to reform the state’s open government laws. They include SB 42, which would establish requirements for open meetings that are broadcast over the Internet or held by telephone conference or videoconference call; SB 43, which would close the “skeleton crew” loophole by defining “business day” in the TPIA; and SB 44, which would provide additional enforcement mechanisms to encourage prompt compliance and timely responses to Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) requestors.

“Transparency is essential to preserving democratic governance,” Senator Zaffirini said. “To hold leaders accountable, Texans need to know what happens in the halls of power.”

What’s more, as a member of the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans she is determined to find solutions to address gun violence. Because the mass shooting in Uvalde and many others have been committed by young persons with assault weapons, her SB 32 would increase from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase these firearms.

Senator Zaffirini also pre-filed the following bills:

  • SB 31, authorizing power companies to connect to the national grid;
  • SB 37, updating hazing statutes;
  • SB 40, establishing a boil water alert notice system;
  • SB 41, prohibiting persons from using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving a vehicle;
  • SB 45, requiring open records information to be produced in a searchable and sortable format, such as an Excel spreadsheet, if such information is maintained in that manner;
  • SB 46, requiring disclosure of redacted dates of birth under the TPIA pertaining to criminal background checks and candidates for public office;
  • SB 48, providing protective orders standardized forms to increase the efficiency in processing these lifesaving measures;
  • SB 49, expanding eligibility to access to the Crime Victims' Compensation Program and increase the payment caps, so these funds can be utilized more effectively;
  • SB 50, ensuring facilities that cared for children who died from preventable deaths can no longer obtain a license, listing or registration in the future;
  • SB 53, authorizing financial assistance to economically distressed areas for the costs associated with back-up power generators for facilities of public water supply and sanitary sewer systems;
  • SB 54, allowing pregnant minors to enroll in home visiting programs if they otherwise meet eligibility;
  • SB 55, requiring a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board study regarding how to assist students with autism;
  • SB 56 and SJR 7, allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they would be 18 by the date of general election;
  • SB 57, permitting the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to file a claim for unclaimed property on behalf of a victim of a criminal offense if the reported owner of the unclaimed property: was convicted; and, based on that conviction, is confined in a TDCJ facility and was ordered to pay restitution to his or her victim;
  • SB 58, prohibiting the use of online sales bots;
  • SB 59, helping non-county taxing entities such as school districts avert the unintended consequences of residential sales being voided for unintentionally failing to comply with applicable Local Government Code provisions by adding a reference to these provisions in the Delinquent Tax Sales section of the Tax Code;
  • SB 60, allowing holders of distiller’s or rectifier’s permits to engage in contract distilling for the manufacture, bottling, labeling, packaging and sale to wholesalers of distilled spirits;
  • SB 61, giving the comptroller the option to send electronically to a person the written notice of the hearing or decision to revoke or suspend the person's permit or license for failure to comply with provisions governing state taxation or a rule;
  • SB 62, requiring the county to post online information regarding foreclosures and ad valorem tax forms;
  • SB 64, making technical changes to improve efficiency in mental health courts;
  • SB 65, excluding the furnishing of an academic transcript from the definition of “information service” for purposes of sales and use taxes;
  • SB 66, clarifying that emergency services personnel would not lose their civil service classification as granted by a citywide vote if the municipality adopts a new form of government;
  • SB 67, prohibiting employers who have committed wage theft from participating in state contracts and ensuring the public knows those employers via a database on the Texas Workforce Commission's website;
  • SB 68, allowing high school students to explore potential career paths and visit professional workplaces by granting them an excused absence;
  • SB 69 and SJR 8, establishing a Texas Redistricting Commission and transferring responsibilities for redistricting Congressional, state Senate and state House of Representative districts from the Legislature to this commission;
  • SB 70, creating an interagency workgroup to study unfunded mandates on local government; and
  • SJR 9, proposing a constitutional amendment to opt out of daylight savings time.

The senator and her staff invite constituents to participate in the legislative process and to share their advice, feedback and suggestions. They may be contacted via 512/463-0121.

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Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, pre-filed 44 bills today (Nov. 14) for the legislative session that begins on Jan. 10. Because she and her staff were first in line (and the Lt. Governor reserves 1-30 for his priorities), hers are Senate Bills 31- 70 and Senate Joint Resolutions 6-9. The second-highest ranking member and highest-ranking woman and Hispanic member of the Texas Senate, Senator Zaffirini has passed more bills than any other legislator in the history of Texas.