FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2023
(AUSTIN)—Senator Judith Zaffirini passed 122 bills during the 88th Texas Legislature that adjourned sine die (without another day) Monday (May 29), bringing her total bills passed to 1,388.
The Senate's highest-ranking woman and Hispanic member, Senator Zaffirini was the highest bill-passer for the fifth consecutive session. Her legislation includes 64 Senate bills that she authored and 58 House bills she sponsored. She has passed more bills than any legislator in the history of the State of Texas.
"I am grateful to my fellow legislators in both chambers for their support," she said. “Bipartisan collaboration is the key to representing the best interests of the families of our districts by passing the best possible bills.”
Senator Zaffirini also extended her 100 percent career-long voting record by casting more than 70,000 consecutive votes—well beyond that of any other legislator in the state or country.
Her bills address the priorities of Senate District 21, which stretches from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River.
"Although my district enjoys rich cultural diversity, we share several universal needs," she said. "Our quality of life depends on economic vibrancy, access to health care, and excellent and affordable educational opportunities for all—including early childhood and higher education."
As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Zaffirini successfully advocated for necessary funding for Senate District 21. House Bill 1, the state’s appropriations bill, includes $415,000 for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to purchase three ethylene oxide gas analyzers and related equipment to monitor ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, in Laredo.
Its need was supported by a Department of State Health Services cancer assessment report indicating increased cancer rates near a medical sterilization plant that emits high levels of the gas.
HB 1 also includes $5 billion for a cost-of-living-adjustment and supplemental check for retired teachers; $141 million in the B-on-Time Student Loan account transferred to improve outcomes for at-risk students through investment in student success and financial aid; a $650 million increase for the community college funding formula; $18.3 million for salary increases for local mental health authorities; $695,000 for a guardianship specialty court pilot program; and $25 million for landowner compensation for damage caused by criminal activities, such as destroyed fencing on ranches along the border.
Senator Zaffirini also serves on the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, through which she passed her "bots" bills, SB 58 and SB 1639. Bots, short for robots or web robots, are software applications designed to automate tasks on the internet. Some bots are malicious and purchase large quantities of items faster than a human ever could to resell them at inflated prices.
Her SB 58 prohibits persons from using "grinch" bots to buy and resell items at inflated prices, while SB 1639 prohibits persons from creating or using "ticket" bots to buy and resell event tickets. Rep. Kronda Thimesch (R-Denton) sponsored these two bills in the House of Representatives.
"We made progress toward creating a fair digital marketplace for all," Senator Zaffirini said. "It was a pleasure working with Rep. Thimesch to protect Texas consumers."
Highlighting her commitment to inclusivity and innovation in education, Senator Zaffirini championed measures ranging from addressing the needs of students from Pre-K to doctoral programs across the state. Her SB 55, for example, mandates a comprehensive study of graduation rates and financial aide for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Her SB 68 allows up to two excused absences per year for career exploration; her HB 584 fosters a partnership between the Department of Information Resources and public educational institutions to offer a state IT credential program to prepare students for entry-level IT positions in state agencies; and her HB 1225 permits paper assessments upon request, offering an additional layer of flexibility in the educational training process.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding accessibility to health and human services in Senate District 21 remains a priority of Senator Zaffirini’s. The healthcare reform measures she passed this session include her SB 2476, which bans balance billing practices for non-emergency municipal ground ambulances services, capping the total cost of ambulance rides to approximately $1,500. This legislation continues Senator Zaffirini’s life-long efforts to reduce medical costs and expand Texans’ access to healthcare while ensuring the same high level of quality.
The senator also passed Cati's Act, or HB 59 by Rep. Vicki Goodwin (D-Austin), which is named after 6-year-old drowning victim, Cati Dela Peña. Cati's Act helps prevent accidental drownings by requiring those who are caring for children who cannot swim to wear a life jacket during water activities, which will save the lives of children across the state.
Senator Zaffirini's relentless pursuit of justice and protection for the vulnerable sections of society is evident in the multitude of laws she sponsored and supported this legislative session. Her criminal justice agenda included passing SB 49, which expands relocation benefits for crime victims and their families; SB 1717, which broadens the definition and repercussions of stalking offenses; and SB 1401, which mandates forensic medical examinations for sexual assault victims, ensuring appropriate care and effective evidence collection; and simplifies access to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund.
What's more, she sponsored and passed HB 611 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, which criminalizes doxing, the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about persons without their consent and with the intent to do harm. Doxing can and has led to cyber harassment, identity theft, physical violence and even, in rare cases, death.
Senator Zaffirini maintains an open door policy. Constituents may contact her or her staff, especially regarding their perspectives about legislation, via Judith.Zaffirini@senate.texas.gov and her district office (956/722-2293) or her Capitol office (512/463-0121).
SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, passes another of the 122 she passed during the 2023 legislative session that adjourned Monday. She was the legislature’s highest bill-passer for the fifth consecutive session and has passed more bills than any legislator in the history of the State of Texas.