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August 20, 1998     (512) 463-0300

SENATE NAFTA COMMITTEE PASSES INTERIM REPORT

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) met in a public hearing on Thursday, August 20, at the state capitol. The committees agenda focused on the approval of the 1998 Interim NAFTA report that makes recommendations on possible legislation that the 76th Legislature will consider.

The committee is chaired by Senator Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi and includes Senators John Carona of Dallas, Steve Ogden of Bryan, Mario Gallegos of Houston, and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso.

Throughout the Interim, the committee evaluated what impact NAFTA has on the Texas economy and what regions, such as border communities, are affected the most. The members looked at how NAFTA affects employment and identified employment losses or gains in the trade industry. The committee also studied trade issues regarding transportation and roads, housing, education, and effects on the environment. The committee hopes to have developed a statewide strategic response plan in which the state can institute in order to avoid problems in the future.

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS CHILDRENS HEALTH INSURANCE ISSUES

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Childrens Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) met in a joint hearing on Thursday, August 20, with members of the House Appropriations Committee in order to discuss the status of health insurance and dental programs available to children. The Senate Committee on CHIP is responsible for looking into the efforts of state health and human services agencies to develop and fund state childrens health insurance programs. Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth chairs the Senate Committee on CHIP and members include Senators Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso.

The members received an update and cost estimates of the Agency CHIP Proposal which outlines the programs principles, eligibility policies, outreach programs, enrollment procedures, accountability measures and what the role of community-based organizations would be. These updates were provided by Health and Human Services Commissioner Don Gilbert and Commissioner of Health Reyn Archer. The members also heard a presentation of cost estimates for alternative CHIP proposals from representatives of the Legislative Budget Board.

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