BULLOCK ANNOUNCES 75TH INTERIM STUDY APPOINTMENTS
AUSTIN - The 75th Legislature's Interim is underway with the announcement of the interim studies and the members appointed to them. As lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock is responsible for appointing Senators to prospective committees and commissions. The issues to be discussed this interim include the development of a state economic plan, insights into the welfare system, a study of statutory probate courts and the regulation of nursing homes. The reports will be prepared for consideration during the 76th Legislative Session.
Bullock chose Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson as Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. This important commission is responsible for reviewing the operations of state agencies to make recommendations for their improvements or their dissolution based on their findings. "Senator Brown will provide the strong leadership needed as we review state agencies and their abilities to meet the changing needs of Texas," Bullock said. Other senators appointed to serve on the Sunset Commission are Chris Harris of Arlington, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and Frank Madla of San Antonio.
The senators will serve with representatives from the House, gubernatorial appointees, public officials, and public members unless they are specified as a special Senate committee. The following is a list of the interim studies along with their appointed representatives from the Senate:
Annexation Laws - A special five-member panel will include San Antonio Senator Frank Madla as Chair along with Senators Mario Gallegos of Houston, Michael Galloway of the Woodlands, Jon Lindsay of Houston and Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin. The committee will look into potential legislative recommendations for next session including extraterritorial jurisdiction and municipal annexation.
Competitive Electric Market Issues - Bullock appointed Senator David Sibley of Waco as Chair of the committee that will study an array of issues involved in the possible transition to competitive electric markets. Also serving on the committee are Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, David Cain of Dallas, Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin and Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay.
Economic Development - In order to develop and review state budgets as well as financial aspects of the state, Senator David Sibley of Waco will lead the Senate Interim Committee on Economic Development. Also serving on the committee are Senators Rodney Ellis of Houston, Frank Madla of San Antonio, Steve Ogden of Bryan and Florence Shapiro of Plano. The panel, created last session, will develop an overall strategic plan for economic development for Texas.
Education - To make recommendations for the improvement of the Texas education system, Bullock selected Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins as Chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Education. Bivins served as Chair of the Senate Education Committee during the 75th Legislative Session. The committee will review school campus safety, the success and availability of drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs as well as bilingual education and service availability. The committee will also look at the success of charter schools, education service centers and the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP). Serving on the interim committee with Bivins are Senators Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Michael Galloway of The Woodlands, Tom Haywood of Wichita Falls, Gregory Luna of San Antonio, Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.
Franchise Agreement Panel - Bullock appointed three senators to serve on the legislative committee that will seek ways to maintain fairness among franchise fee agreements between telecommunication firms and municipal governments. Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville will serve as co-chair joined by Senators Florence Shapiro of Plano and David Sibley of Waco.
Funding Issues of Education - To allow all Texans access to an affordable quality education, the Joint Interim Committee on Funding Issues in Education will develop performance and budget recommendations and examine funding issues in higher education and public schools. Co-chaired by Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins, the committee will also include Senators Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Gregory Luna of San Antonio, David Sibley of Waco, Royce West of Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo. Health and Human Services - As chair of the Senate Interim Health and Human Services Committee, Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo will review and evaluate the conditions and needs of Texans in all aspects of health and human services, including insurance, Medicaid, medical exams and guidelines and many others. Serving with Zaffirini are Senators John Carona of Dallas, Chris Harris of Arlington, Jon Lindsay of Houston and Frank Madla of San Antonio.
Home Health and Assisted Living - Bullock appointed Fort Worth Senator Mike Moncrief as chair of the committee that will review conditions of home health options and assisted living facilities. Also on the committee are Senators Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and Drew Nixon of Carthage.
Housing Needs - Led by Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio, Senators Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, Rodney Ellis of Houston and Florence Shapiro of Plano will study state programs that provide low and moderate income Texans access to affordable housing.
Impact of NAFTA - Senators Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi (chair), John Carona of Dallas, Steve Ogden of Bryan, Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso and Mario Gallegos of Houston will evaluate the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Texas and especially, its border cities.
Natural Resources - To protect Texas' vast and valuable natural resources and help prepare Texans for their future conservation and use, Bullock appointed Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown as chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Resources. During the 75th Legislative Session, Brown was credited with sponsoring a bill that aims to conserve and protect Texas' water supply. Also serving on the panel are Senators Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Tom Haywood of Wichita Falls, Jon Lindsay of Houston, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, Steve Ogden of Bryan, and Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi.
Nursing Home Regulations - Senators Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and Jane Nelson of Flower Mound will attempt to identify significant problems in nursing home regulation and the effectiveness of its currents standards. The committee will also assess the general availability of long-term and nursing home care.
Regulations of Public Information - A special Senate Committee was created to examine the state's open government process to determine if the exchange of public records could be improved for the benefit of all Texans. Serving on this committee are senators Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio (chair), Ken Armbrister of Victoria, John Whitmire of Houston, John Carona of Dallas and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso.
State Affairs - Senator Ken Armbrister of Victoria will chair the Senate Interim Committee on State Affairs to review issues that directly affect Texas and its citizens in areas of trade, business, finance and others. Also serving on the committee are Senators John Whitmire of Houston, David Cain of Dallas, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, and Drew Nixon of Carthage.
State Artists - Senators Jon Lindsay of Houston, Steve Ogden of Bryan, and David Cain of Dallas were named to designate two state artists for painting, sketches, photography and sculptures for each year.
State Budget - The 13-member Senate Finance committee, led by Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, will look into state agency budgets and determine whether or not taxpayer money is being properly distributed and spent. Senators Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, David Sibley of Waco, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Royce West of Dallas, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, and Ken Armbrister of Victoria will be divided into four subcommittees, each of which will review a different agency. Among the agencies that will have their budgets reviewed include criminal justice, education, business and health and human services.
State and Federal Redistricting - Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos was chosen to lead an interim review that will monitor legislative and congressional redistricting lawsuits and review federal plans for the 2000 census.
State Funds Working Groups - Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini will serve on this special committee to study the economic impact of state laws on local governments. Zaffirini will be part of this workgroup that will publish a list of all new laws enacted by the Legislature which require political subdivisions to spend but received no appropriations from the state to cover the expenditures.
Statutory Probate Courts - San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth will serve as co-Chair for this legislative committee that will review the state's statutory probate courts and jurisdiction within the system. Also serving on the committee from the Senate are David Cain of Dallas and Rodney Ellis of Houston.
Teen Gang Violence - A special Senate committee chaired by Senator Royce West of Dallas will study the problem of gang violence among teenagers and young adults. The panel will include Senator Chris Harris of Arlington, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, and Jon Lindsay of Houston. The committee will review current law enforcement systems, state and local juvenile justice agencies and criminal information systems among others in order to make recommendations for their improvements.
Title Insurance - Senator Chris Harris of Arlington will chair the Senate Interim Committee on Title Insurance. Senators J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson and John Whitmire of Houston will also serve as members. The committee will attempt to identify and make possible solutions to problems that Texans face while trying to obtain title insurance.
Transportation - In order to improve the transportation systems in Texas, Senators Ken Armbrister of Victoria (chair), David Cain of Dallas, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Drew Nixon of Carthage and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant will serve as members of the committee on transportation. They will look at problems including overpopulation, traffic, public transportation systems and state and city highways and roads.
Welfare Oversight Panel - Bullock appointed Mount Pleasant Senator Bill Ratliff as co-Chair of the Texas Integrated Enrollment Services Legislative Oversight Committee. The committee will advise the Health and Human Services Commissioner as a plan for integrating services is developed and implemented. Also serving on the committee are Senators Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and John Carona of Dallas.
Study on Water - Bullock named five Senators to an interim committee to implement the state water plan passed last Session and study ways to balance the state's water supply against future demands. The committee will include Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson as chair, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.