FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2005
AUSTIN, TX--Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. was sworn in today - the first day of the 79th legislative session - for a seventh term in office.
"It is always an honor to be sworn in and a greater honor to know that I will continue to represent the people of District 27 here in Austin," said Sen. Lucio. "We will again face another challenging legislative session with a tight budget and a greater need due to our population growth, particularly in South Texas. However, I will remain focused to ensure that South Texas receives equitable and full attention to its needs."
Senator Lucio will continue to make children, education, economic opportunity and infrastructure development his priorities.
Some of the issues that Senator Lucio will be addressing will be public school finance. He remarked, "It will certainly be my goal to help make the Texas education system more equitable for all Texas children and ensure a quality education based on school excellence and not on where a child may live.
"Of particular concern to me is facility funding, which would include reducing the number of portable and temporary buildings that so many of our children use as classrooms," he added. "I firmly believe that a child's environment is critical to his learning, and all Texas school children should have access to modern buildings with regular classrooms that are conducive to a child's success in the classroom."
Sen. Lucio will also champion full coverage to Texas families under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), so that children from families who struggle to make ends meet but do not qualify for Medicaid will receive proper medical attention, and not in emergency rooms where treatment costs are born by the taxpayer. Waiting until an illness or an injury is an emergency delays treatment and can be a risk to a full recovery.
He will continue to pursue giving Texas juries a third option in capital cases and bringing relief to victim's families through a Life-Without-Parole sentence.
In the area of healthcare and higher education, the Senator will continue to seek funding for the Regional Academic Health Center and the Irma Rangel Pharmacy School at Texas A&M - Kingsville, with the ultimate goal of creating the first medical school in South Texas.
Senator Lucio also plans to continue the goals of the Joint Interim Committee on Nutrition and Health in Public Schools: to improve the health and nutrition of children in Texas. He is working to build on the new public school nutrition policy, and to see that every school district has a fully operational School Health Advisory Council.
To combat the epidemic of obesity-related diabetes among children, Senator Lucio wants to continue the work of the ANTES diabetes risk-factor detection program, which is conducted in schools and operated by the Border Health Office at the University of Texas Pan American.
The Senate Committee on International Relations and trade will have an ambitious agenda aimed at addressing the critical infrastructure, trade, economic development, housing and transportation challenges confronting our state.
"We will have legislative measures to reform the Office of the Border Commerce Coordinator, improve the Colonia Coordinator Initiative and provide Border Counties Limited-Ordinance Making Authority," explained Sen. Lucio.
The Committee's interim report has five selected reforms of the 120 plus recommendations and sub-recommendations that have the potential of providing Texas a comprehensive infrastructure package totaling $1.44 billion for new and improved initiatives.
These five reforms will:
- Make Texas more competitive by providing for the skills training of 95,000 Texans;
- Reward and assist new business ventures that locate in rural and distressed communities;
- Provide for a voter-approved initiative of $430 to $500 million in a new and improved EDAP II (Economically Distressed Areas) program;
- Draw down more than $7 million in federal funds for water initiatives for disadvantaged communities;
- Assist Texas to improve inspection stations at Texas' ports-of-entry;
- Comprehensively address the road needs of colonias; and,
- Increase the affordable housing opportunities for Texans in search of the American dream.
"As chairman of IRT, there is no doubt in my mind that with the leadership in the Capitol, we will be able to make these recommendations a reality during the 79th legislative session," said Sen. Lucio "We have the blueprints needed to achieve our goals, and I will work for consensus with my colleagues for he benefit of the people living on the Texas Border.