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February 8, 2000     (512) 463-0300

University of Houston Downtown Campus Hosts Intergovernmental Relations Committee

HOUSTON - The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee held a public hearing Tuesday, February 8, 2000 in the new Administration Building on the University of Houston Downtown Campus. The committee is holding hearings throughout the state to study charges issued by Lt. Governor Rick Perry for study this interim. Members of the committee include Senators Frank L. Madla of San Antonio serving as chair, Jon Lindsay of Houston, Rodney Ellis of Houston, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, and Drew Nixon of Carthage.

The meeting began with invited testimony relating to the 'design-build' form of bidding on state projects. The 'design-build' option allows engineers, architects, and builders to form teams for bidding on projects. Currently, the state requires that each entity bid separately. Testimony was heard from John W. Johnson representing the Texas Transportation Commission (TxDOT); Rick Maldonado representing the Texas Ports Association; Mike MaHaffey, Legal Counsel, Port of Corpus Christi; Pat Younger representing the Port of Houston Authority; Bob Lanham, President of Association of General Contractors of Texas; John Oualline Sr., Vice-President,3D International; Wayne Smith representing the Texas Society of Professional Engineers; and Randy Lowrance representing the Gilbane Building Company. Public testimony was heard from Pat Manning, President of Texas Sterling Contractors and a TxDOT contractor; and Ken Ross, a member of the texas Society of Architects, in support of the current method of bidding.

The committee heard testimony relating to the Council of Government (COGs). The committee is charged with conducting studies examining the funding and expenditures of COGs, the changing relationship between COGs and the state and federal governments, and monitor compliance by COGs regarding publication of financial statements. Invited speakers included Harris County Judge Robert Eckels Jr.; Brazoria County Judge John Willy, Secretary Treasurer for the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC); Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski and President of HGAC; Texas City Commission Member Frank Simpson; and Frank Thompson representing Brown & Root. Also testifying was Jack Steel, Executive Director of HGAC; Pearland Mayor Tom Reed; Caroline Osborne, member of HGAC Committee on Aging; Carol Lenz, Vice-Chair of the HGAC Regional Air Quality Commission; and Friendswood City Council Member Tom Manson.

Houston City Council Member Carroll Robinson testified on the 'design-build' issue, particularly as it relates to HUBs (Historically Underutilized Businesses) and issues relating to COGs.

Jerry Wood, representing the Planning and Development Department for the City of Houston, testified on the implementation of Senate Bill 89, 76th Legislature, Regular Session.

The next hearing of the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be held in Fort Worth on March 7, 2000. The committee will submit its findings in a final report to be presented to the 77th Legislature. The 77th Legislature convenes in January of 2001.

Click here to listen to the hearing in RealAudio format.

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