LEGISLATORS MEET IN JOINT COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS DROUGHT ISSUES
AUSTIN - Members of both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Appropriations met in a public hearing on Friday, August 7, to discuss problems and solutions to thedrought Texas is currently experiencing. The committees heard testimony from agencies that provided insights into the drought issues caused by water shortages and low rainfall in Texas regions. These problems have been doubled due to the fact that the state has yet to recover from the damaging drought of 1996.
The meeting was co-chaired by Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Robert Junell, Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. Senators serving on the Finance committee include Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, J.E. *Buster* Brown of Lake Jackson, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, David Sibley of Waco, Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, Royce West of Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.
Testimony began with a presentation on the agricultural impact the drought has had on various regions given by Rick Perry, Commissioner of Agriculture. The committee then heard from representatives of the Department of Emergency Management. Comptroller John Sharp testified as to the fiscal impact the drought has had on the state. The meeting continued with a presentation by Senator Steve Ogden of Bryan discussing a drought recovery proposal followed by an overview presentation by representatives of the Texas A&M Extension Services.
Members also heard from representatives of the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, the Texas Water Development Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas State Forest Service, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation, and Housing and Community Affairs. The meeting concluded with public testimony.
Each committee will gather their findings and present them in a final report to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.