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Monday, February 1, 1999     (512) 463-0300

The Texas State Senate News

AUSTIN - During session today, the Senate honored the City of Fort Worth on its 150th Anniversary. Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth sponsored Senate Resolution (SR) 112 to commemorate the occasion. Senator Royce West of Dallas sponsored SR 117 designating February, 1999 as Black History Month in Texas.

Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins joined Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos to sponsor Texas Capitol Schoolhouse Days. Students from around the state met in the Capitol to teach their legislators what they are learning in school using computer based technology. The Texas Capitol Schoolhouse continues through tomorrow on the ground floor of the Capitol rotunda. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Moses will address the students tomorrow morning. Texas schools represented at the event include Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Amarillo Independent School District (ISD), Dallas ISD, Eanes ISD, El Paso ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Houston ISD, Pittsburg ISD, Rogers ISD, Somerville ISD, and Spring Branch ISD.

In a heavily attended hearing, the Senate's Electric Utility Restructuring Committee, chaired by David Sibley of Waco, heard testimony from Pat Wood,III, Chair of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) on the subject of stranded costs. Stranded costs are the difference between the market value or what someone is willing to pay for it, and the book value of an electric provider which is decided by the PUC. The PUC currently awards 10-12% for general investment costs they determine are prudent. The committee is trying to determine whether electric providers should be allowed to recover stranded costs after the market is open to competition; and how to determine the numbers of those costs. Chairman Wood stressed that these costs are currently being paid by every rate payer in the state. If the bill passes, stranded costs would be noted as a delivery charge on the consumer's bills.

Sibley says that although the restructuring included in Senate Bill 7 could cause an adverse affect for companies, it does not mean the government is being unfair and more importantly, unconstitutional.

"We are not obliged to hold them harmless from the travails of competition we're supposed to be reasonable and fair with them. That's what the constitutional law says," said Sibley.

Chairman Wood said stranded costs are not a core issue but a transitional one. Other members of the Electric Utility Restructuring Committee are Senators David Cain of Dallas, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, and Teel Bivins of Amarillo.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

Events

2/2/99, Tuesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036

2/2/99, Tuesday - Natural Resources Public Hearing at 2:00 p.m. in the Senate Chamber

2/3/99, Wednesday - Human Services Public Hearing at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber

2/3/99, Wednesday - Intergovernmental Relations Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.028

2/3/99, Wednesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036

2/3/99, Wednesday - Criminal Justice Committee Public Hearing at 2:00 p.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.016

2/4/99, Thursday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036

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