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March 4, 1998     (512) 463-0300

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Education met at the state capitol Wednesday, March 4, for a public hearing regarding the committee's charges. The committee is chaired by Senator Teel Bivins of Amarillo and members include 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.

Testifying on behalf of the Texas Center for Educational Research was its director, Catherine Clark, whose presentation included a survey on school safety and drug and alcohol prevention programs. Chuck Brawner, chief of police in Spring Branch Independent School District, provided insights into school safety issues. Representatives from both the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse provided information on drug and alcohol prevention, treatment issues, and possible solutions.

The committee is also responsible for looking into current and future dyslexia services and program issues. Representatives from the TEA, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), as well as a state dyslexia consultant from Region 10 Educational Service Center all provided valuable testimony regarding the matters. The University of Houston Medical School's Center for Academic and Reading Skills also provided testimony.

Finally, the members heard from several program specialists from the Texas Department of Health and the Texas Education Agency regarding hearing and vision impaired services and program issues.

The committee will gather its findings and make any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.

TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEETS IN TYLER

TYLER - The Senate's Interim Committee on Transportation held a public hearing Wednesday, March 4, at the Tyler Rose Center, the third in a series of hearings to be held around the state. The committee was appointed by Lt. Governor Bob Bullock to research trends in transportation issues facing Texas relating to rapid growth in population and ways to ease crowding on state and local roads; methods used in financing transportation projects and whether current plans are adequate to meet demands and relieve traffic congestion; evaluate state efforts in promoting alternate methods of transportation; and studying the funding of metropolitan transit authorities to determine whether their services are being provided efficiently. Members of the committee include Senators Ken Armbrister of Victoria serving as chair, David Cain of Dallas, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Drew Nixon of Carthage, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner Robert Nichols, a former mayor of Jacksonville, testified before the panel. Nichols has been commended for traveling to each of the 25 TxDOT districts during his term as commissioner. Among the topics discussed by the commissioner were funding mechanisms, local bridge construction, and rail crossings.

Other witnesses testifying before the committee included Tyler Mayor Kevin Eltife, Lindale Mayor Bobby McClenny, Mineola Mayor Celia Boswell and several area county judges, justices of the peace, and representatives of area chambers of commerce. Local area testimony included concerns related to overweight trucks damaging the county roads due to area industry growth, local control of the funding for transportation projects, and the inconsistency of the speed limits on the various types of roads in rural areas and the lack of posted speed limits.

The next hearing will be held March 19 in Abilene. The committee will complete its report in the fall of 1998, with recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January 1999.

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