Senator Judith Zaffirini, (D-Laredo), received the 2019 Legislative Achievement Award from AARP Texas. The organization presented the award to recognize the senator’s legislative efforts to improve the state’s guardianship system. Her Senate Bill (SB) 31, which went into effect on Sept. 1, established the Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program, which will help prevent the exploitation of persons who need a legal guardian because they cannot care for themselves.
“I was delighted to receive this award and to have AARP Texas’ support in passing this critical bill,” she said. “We developed SB 31 after hearing testimony about terrible physical and financial abuse that went undiscovered throughout the state for years. I hope guardianship cases now will receive more effective oversight, precluding further harm.”
Zaffirini received multiple awards following the legislative session, during which she passed 127 bills. The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and the Texas Library Association also honored the senator for legislation she passed in 2019.
“Important legislation often must be filed again and again before it is successfully passed into law, such as the Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program, which I passed on my second try,” she said.
Preparation for the legislative session that begins in 2021 is underway, and Zaffirini encourages advocates to begin working with her now to enhance their future success. “My staff and I already are working with stakeholders to re-file worthy bills that failed and to develop new legislation.”
Zaffirini’s work ethic is reflected in her career-long 100 percent voting record and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She is the second highest-ranking senator and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic in the Texas Senate.