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February 22, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Committee on State Affairs Holds Joint Meeting with Special Committee on Border Affairs

IRVING - The Committee on State Affairs and the Special Committee on Border Affairs held a joint public hearing in the Carpenter Performance Hall at the Irving Arts Center, on February 22, 2000. The meeting was brought to order by the chair of State Affairs, Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano. She thanked the City of Irving for its hospitality. Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville, chair of the Special Committee on Border Affairs, also gave opening remarks.

State Affairs Committee members also include Senators Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso serving as vice-chair, Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville, David Cain of Dallas, Drew Nixon of Carthage, J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson, David Bernsen of Beaumont, Tom Haywood of Wichita Falls, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.

The Special Committee on Border Affairs members also include David Sibley of Waco serving as vice-chair, Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, and Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi.

The morning testimony was given by two panels, the Texas Transit Association and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board. They discussed the State Affairs Committee's fifth charge. Charge five studies the funding and expenditures of Metropolitan Transit Authorities (MTAs) and budgetary relationships that MTAs have with the cities they serve. The committee is analyzing the overall fiscal management of the MTAs and the effectiveness of their delivery of services on a cost-benefit basis.

Ms. Alice Holland, Chairperson of the Ft. Worth Transportation Authority's Executive Committee, and Mr. John Bartosiewicz, Vice President for the Metro Transits, testified about the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (the T) and the commitment to Ft. Worth and the other cities that are part of the T: Lake Worth, Blue Mound, and Richland Hills.

Additional testimony was given by Ms. Linda Harper Brown, Council Member of the City of Irving, and Mr. Jack Miller, Mayor of the City of Denton, concerning how MTAs relate to their municipalities.

Afternoon testimony dealt with State Affairs' interim charge one. Charge one is the evaluation of the state's intermodal transportation planning efforts with an emphasis on NAFTA related trade corridors and their impact on both metropolitan and rural areas of the state. The committee shall address all modes of transportation including highways, farm-to-market roads, turnpikes, mass transit, aviation, railroads and water traffic. The committee shall determine whether the state is maximizing federal funding level, and evaluate alternative and innovative methods of transportation funding and develop recommendations for their use. The committee shall coordinate study of the issue with the Special Committee on Border Affairs. The final preparation of the report will be the responsibility of the State Affairs Committee.

Testimony was also given concerning design-build systems. Patrick Drennon, Senior Vice President, Senior Professional Associate and Director of Design Build Engineering; Bob Lanham, President of the Texas Association of General Contractors; David Laney, Commissioner for the Texas Transportation Commission; and Robert Day, Director of Planning and Development of the Turnpike Division for the Texas Department of Transportation all gave testimony relating to these systems.

Following these witnesses, Jim Randall, P.E., Deputy Director of Transportation Planning and Programming for Texas Department of Transportation; and Mark Yachmetz, Director of the Office of Passenger Programs for Federal Rail Road Administration gave testimony related to high speed rail systems.

Individuals from the Rail Panel then testified. Robert Nichols, Commissioner for the Texas Transportation Commission; Dennis Kearns, Legislative Council with the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company; Chris Aadnessen, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President of Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana for Texas-Mexican Railway, and many others offered related testimony.

Clint Winters, with Research and Policy Development for the State Comptroller's Office; and Alvin Luedeke, P.E., Director of Transportation Planning and Programming for TxDOT, gave testimony related to the Legislative Budget Board's Border Report.

Jim Crites, Deputy Executive Director of Operations for the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport testified on aviation issues.

After invited testimony concluded, public testimony followed. Vic Suhm of Texas Transportation Funding Coalition; Judge Lee Jackson of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition; Bob Cass, Lubbock City Manager; Ron Davis, Associate for First Southwest Company; and John Crew, Senior Vice President for First Southwest Company all testified on the public's behalf.

The Senate State Affairs Committee and the Special Committee on Border Affairs stand recessed subject to the call of the chairs.

Click here to watch the hearing in RealVideo format.

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