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Tuesday, February 2, 1999     (512) 463-0300
Photo: Beaumont Senator David Bernsen with members of the Chambers County delegation, presenting Lt. Governor Rick Perry with a genuine alligator head
Beaumont Senator David Bernsen with members of the Chambers County delegation, presenting Lt. Governor Rick Perry with a genuine alligator head.

Chambers County Day in Texas

AUSTIN - Small oil producers could soon get a short term tax break. Senate Bill 290, sponsored by Senators Brown, Fraser, and Ratliff, suspends the severance tax for oil from wells producing 15 barrels of oil or less per day when the price of oil is less than $15 a barrel. The fiscal impact of the legislation could be as much as 45 million dollars. The legislation will be effective through July 31, 1999.

Lt. Governor Rick Perry is concerned that jobs are taking a downturn within the industry. "These are very specialized jobs, jobs that are not going to be transferred easily. Once these jobs are lost they will be very difficult to replace when the oil and gas industry does rebound," Perry stated.

Senator J.E. 'Buster' Brown of Lake Jackson, said these small wells may produce up to two-thirds of Texas' oil. "We keep it pumping, we keep it producing and we provide this incentive to try to get them to hang in there until the oil prices get back."

The Senate Finance Committee plans a hearing to consider this legislation tomorrow morning. Perry believes it could be on the Senate floor as early as the beginning of next week. Governor Bush designated the issue a legislative emergency, citing desperate conditions in Texas' oil patch. Legislators plan to have the bill on the governor's desk within two weeks.

Senate Finance heard testimony from the Department of Housing and Community Affairs today. The agency did not meet the goal of applying 15% of total housing funds to the poorest of the poor. They allotted only 5.6% of those funds to that income range. Agency director Daisy Stiner claimed she did not have the resources to target specific groups. Senator Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi was especially worried about border areas with shortages of affordable housing. Truan hoped the agency, now under new management, would not continue its reputation of neglecting Texas' neediest citizens. During the 75th Session, an Interim Housing Committee was charged with monitoring the implementation of House Bill 2577. The bill was passed last session to create affordable housing and give the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Texas State Affordable Housing Cooperation new responsibilities.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Events

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 - Nominations Committee Public Hearing at 1:00 p.m. in the Capitol, room 2E.20/Lt. Gov. Cmte. Rm.
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
2/4/99, Thursday - State Affairs Public Hearing at 12:30 or 30 minutes upon adjournment in the Senate Chamber

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