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July 28, 1998     (512) 463-0300

SENATE COMMITTEE ON HOME HEALTH AND ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES HOLDS FINAL INTERIM HEARING

AUSTIN - "I think that we have fulfilled our charge by the Lieutenant Governor to come up with some permanent and meaningful solutions in our recommendations - to improve these (health care) industries, to improve the quality of life, and to improve the quality of care that is being provided to hundreds of thousands of Texans." - Senator Mike Moncrief

Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Home Health and Assisted Living Facilities met in their final public hearing of the Interim on Tuesday, July 28, at the State Capitol. The committee is responsible for evaluating the state's regulatory principles, licensing, rates, and methodology of personal care homes and assisted living facilities. Throughout the Interim, the members have heard testimony and gathered information in order to make recommendations on legislation to be considered next session that would ensure quality of care and protection of Texans who need and use these services.

The committee is chaired by Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth and members include Senators Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Mario Gallegos of Houston, and Drew Nixon of Carthage.

Tuesday's hearing consisted of a review of committee staff recommendations from Michael Crowe and Lara Laneri followed by a member vote on final recommendations. Those recommendations will appear in a final report that will be submitted to the Lieutenant Governor in a few weeks. "I think we have a good product," commented Chair Moncrief. "I feel we have some recommendations that make sense and I feel confident in what we'll be recommending in our final report."

The final report will be available to the public in the fall and be submitted to the 76th Legislature in January of next year.

FUTURE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY RIGHTS-OF-WAY DISCUSSED AT STATE CAPITOL

AUSTIN - Members of the Legislative Committee on Municipal Franchise Agreements for Telecommunications Utilities met at the State Capitol on Tuesday, July 28, in a public hearing to discuss the debated topic of a proposed standardized franchise fee for all telecommunications companies. The committee, comprised of both senators and representatives, gathered testimony in order to begin drafting legislation that would not only propose this standardized fee, but would also charge cable and phone companies reasonable amounts in rights-of-way fees. These fees would help maintain competition in local markets without overcharging the companies. The members stated that it is important to avoid charging the companies excessive amounts in fees in that it would ultimately result in higher prices for the consumer.

The committee is co-chaired by Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville and Representative Bill Carter. Other members include Senators David Sibley of Waco and Florence Shapiro of Plano, and Representatives Fred Hill and Steve Wolens.

The hearing consisted of the discussion of the current draft report which outlines the standardized fee. The members then heard testimony from a representative of the Texas League of Municipal Services followed by public testimony.

The committee will continue holding hearings until they can formulate the draft report into a final report and present it to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January, 1999.

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