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May 4, 2004     (512) 463-0300

The Senate Infrastructure and Development Committee Hears Testimony Regarding HB 3588

During the 78th Legislature, lawmakers passed HB 3588, which provided for a comprehensive restructuring of the state's transportation system. This bill allows the state to issue bonds for transportation infrastructure, and increases the use of toll roads throughout Texas. As part of its interim charge, the Senate Infrastructure and Development Committee is to evaluate the implementation of HB3588. To that end, the Infrastructure and Development committee met jointly today with the House Transportation Committee to hear testimony from state transportation officials on the progress of Texas' transportation reorganization. Michael Behrens, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation, says the agency is deciding which projects to spend bond money on. HB 3588 permits the agency to issue three billion dollars in bonds for highway improvement, with 600 million of that earmarked for road safety programs.

Bob Daigh, District Engineer of the Austin District of TxDOT, gave the joint committee a report today on the progress of Central Texas infrastructure improvements. According to Daigh, the Texas Turnpike program, a 2.9 billion dollar toll-road construction program, is under budget and on schedule.

Officials also reported to the committee on growing traffic problems in the state. Texas has seen an increase in traffic of 44 percent, but has only increased its road capacity by three percent. Officials warned that traffic in urban areas of Texas could become as bad as Los Angeles without major changes to city infrastructure and improvement in urban planning.

The Senate Infrastructure and Development Committee is Chaired by Senator Todd Staples and Vice-chaired by Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. The other committee members are Senators Frank Madla, Rodney Ellis, Florence Shapiro, Eliot Shapleigh, Jeff Wentworth, Jon Lindsay and Kim Brimer.

The Senate Committee on Nominations met today to interview gubernatorial appointments to state posts and consider them for confirmation. Among the appointees were Judge Scott Andrew Brister, Chief Justice of the 14th District Court of Appeals, who was confirmed in his nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court of Texas. Also confirmed by the committee was State Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley. Neeley has served in the office since the beginning of the year, when the office was vacated with the resignation of former Commissioner Felipe Alanis. Whenever a state post is vacated during an interim period, a Governor's nominee may take office awaiting confirmation by the Senate Committee on Nominations during session. The Committee on Nominations is Chaired by Senator Jon Lindsay and Vice-chaired by Senator Bob Deuell. Other members of the committee are Senators Gonzalo Barrientos, Kevin Eltife, Mike Jackson, Kel Seliger, and Juan Hinojosa.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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