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August 4, 1998     (512) 463-0300

INTERIM COMMITTEE ON STATE AFFAIRS MEETS AT STATE CAPITOL

AUSTIN - The members of the Senate Interim Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing on Tuesday, August 4, at the State Capitol to discuss two of the five charges laid out by Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock. The first charge deals with analyzing the regulations and laws governing contractors in construction, remodeling, and repair of residential and commercial buildings. Invited testimony came from representatives of the private construction companies, the Texas Roofing Contractors' Association, Texas Lathing and Plastering Contractors' Association and the Texas Drywall Contractors. Disgruntled homeowners offered their stories of frustration in public testimony about contracting and building nightmares.

The members are also responsible for monitoring the implementation of House Joint Resolution (HJR) 31 which allows the citizens of Texas to obtain home equity loans. Invited testimony was taken from representatives of the FannieMae Corporation and the Texas Association of Builders. Witnesses testified regarding restrictions of HJR 31.

Committee members include Senators Ken Armbrister (chair) of Victoria, David Cain of Dallas, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Drew Nixon of Carthage, and John Whitmire of Houston. Senator John Carona of Dallas and Senator Jerry Patterson of Pasadena who sponsored HJR 31 during the 75th Legislature also attended the hearing.

The committee will make any necessary recommendations for legislative or regulatory action to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of 1999.

FINANCE SUBCOMMITTEE MEETS TO DISCUSS STATE OPERATED HOSPITALS

AUSTIN - The Senate Interim Finance Subcommittee on Articles 2 and 8 Agencies held a hearing on Tuesday, August 4, in the Senate Finance Committee Room at the State Capitol. Articles 2 and 8 regulate certain health and human service agencies. The subcommittee is responsible for reviewing these agencies' efforts and budgets, appropriations and expenditures, and collecting recommendations for improving performance measures within each agency.

Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound (chair) presided over the committee which includes Senators Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi and Royce West of Dallas.

The meeting included invited testimony from representatives of the Texas Department of Health, the University of Texas System, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Witnesses testified on the future of the state-operated chest hospitals in San Antonio and Harlingen which primarily treat tuberculosis patients. Public testimony followed.

Tuesday's hearing was the last of the Interim. The members will present their findings to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of 1999.

TRANSPORTATION ISSUES DISCUSSED IN SENATE CHAMBER

AUSTIN - The members of the Senate Interim Committee on Transportation met on Tuesday, August 4, in the Senate Chamber at the State Capitol for the last of the interim's public hearings. The members have been traveling around the state gathering information and public input regarding Texas' transportation issues. The committee is responsible for investigating whether legislative changes are needed regarding the operation and funding of metropolitan transit authorities, whether the state adequately promotes alternative modes of transportation to ease highway and local road congestion, and to study the incidence of railroad accidents in Texas to determine what action the state needs to take.

Senator Ken Armbrister of Victoria chairs the committee which includes Senators David Cain of Dallas, Troy Fraser of Burnet County, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Drew Nixon of Carthage, Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, and Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi.

The hearing began with a presentation from Dale Everitt representing Operation Respond Emergency Information Systems (OREIS), a computer based reporting system for accidents of large transportation carriers such as trains and trucks. This was followed by invited testimony from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) Chair David Laney and TxDot Commissioner Robert Nichols. Nichols testified regarding congestion and population in Texas stating that there has been a 45% increase in traffic in the last 18 years. Austin's Mayor Kirk Watson expressed his concerns regarding the capital city's population growth and the traffic problems that have ensued.

The committee will submit their final report on October 1, 1998.

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