Austin's Team

In between setbacks such as the passage of HB1704 and battling Ron Wilson's attempts to keep Mueller Airport open, Austin-area lawmakers enjoyed a number of victories at the Lege this session. Before most bills had even been proposed, the Austin delegation had reason to celebrate. Austin Reps. Sherri Greenberg and Elliott Naishtat received their first appointments as committee chairs -- marking the first time since 1993 that a member of the Austin delegation headed a House committee. Naishtat, longtime vice chair for Human Services, was appointed chair of that committee, while Austin's Glen Maxey was appointed to fill Naishtat's old seat. Greenberg was named chair of Pensions and Investments. In addition, Rep. Dawnna Dukes received her first appointment as vice chair to the Business and Industry Committee, and Rep. Terry Keel was named vice chair for Public Safety. Over in the Senate, Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos was given the shaft when Lt. Gov. Rick Perry doled out committee posts, but he was chosen by his peers to head the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Collectively, the Austin delegation passed more than 150 bills this session. Here's a small sampling:


Gonzalo Barrientos

Gonzalo Barrientos

photograph by Jana Birchum

Gonzalo Barrientos:

• HB 1678 (with Rep. Irma Rangel, D-Kingsville) requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to implement a uniform policy to attract a diverse population to Texas universities.

• SB 1447 requires that counties make public the location of former solid waste landfills and inform owners of property over the landfills of their location.

• HB 2269 (with Rep. Peggy Hamric, R-Houston) exempts university co-ops from property taxes.


Dawana Dukes:

•HB 618 requires school districts to notify parents when their children are enrolled in classes taught by teachers who are not certified or improperly certified to teach a certain subject.

• HB 861 makes it a crime to coerce a child into joining a gang.

• SB 231 (with Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston) creates a statewide campaign to encourage Texans to enter the high-tech workforce.


Sherri Greenberg:

• HB 1689 provides student loan repayment assistance to full-time early childcare workers.

• HB 2611 requires officeholders and candidates for public office to file contribution and expenditure reports electronically, making campaign information more readily available to the public.

• SB 955 (with Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo) provides grants for pre-reading instruction to low-income pre-kindergarten students.


Terry Keel:

• HB 149 prohibits courts from charging a fee for a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

• HB 234 requires that affidavits used to justify search warrants be made available for public viewing.

• HB 1059 requires that carnival ride operators inspect the safety restraints on rides daily, and allows cities and counties to inspect rides suspected to be unsafe without prior notice.


Glen Maxey:

• HB 3420 prohibits coaches and school personnel from selling so-called "performance-enhancing" drugs and supplements to student athletes.

• HB 1652 creates an education and prevention program for hepatitis C within the Texas Department of Health.

• SB 445 (with Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Ft. Worth) creates a federally funded Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providing insurance to children whose parents make less than 200% of the poverty level.


Elliot Naishtat:

• HB 820 mandates automatic review of children's Medicaid eligibility when a family loses Medicaid benefits. If a child remains eligible for Medicaid, he or she will be re-enrolled.

• SB 39 (with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville) allows defense attorneys to inform juries that if they sentence a person to life in prison, he or she will not be eligible for parole for 40 years.

• HB 3021 amended a bill by Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, to create an ombudsman program to help health care consumers deal with HMOs' appeals and grievance procedures. -- E.C.B.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Lege, Legislature, Texas Legislature, Gov George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Elliot Naishtat, Glen Maxey, Bills, Hate Crimes, Chisum, Abortion, Tax, Presidential, Democrats, Republicans

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