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December 2, 1999     (512) 463-0300
Senate Economic Development Subcommittee
Members of the Senate Economic Development Subcommittee on the Effect of Government Regulations on Economic Development listening to testimony during the December 1 public hearing at the Bay Area Community Center in Clear Lake.


CLEAR LAKE - The Senate Economic Development Committee's Subcommittee on the Effect of Government Regulations on Economic Development held a public hearing Wednesday, December 1, 1999 at the Bay Area Community Center. Economic Development Committee Chair Senator David Sibley of Waco appointed four subcommittees to study certain charges issued by Lt. Governor Rick Perry for investigation during the interim. The subcommittee heard testimony relating to the effect of federal, state and local regulations on businesses and in the community. Subcommittee members include Senators Mike Jackson of LaPorte, serving as chair, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, and John Carona of Dallas. Sibley attended the hearing.

The public hearing began with invited testimony from Julia Rathgeber, representing the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC). Rathgeber discussed internal reorganization of the agency to better assist the persons doing business with the agency, including consolidating the permitting office. Rathgeber discussed TNRCC proposals to assist the Houston area in complying with the federal Clean Air Act passed in 1990. Engine technology creating low-emission engines, low sulphur gasoline, and adjusting construction work hours were discussed as methods to bring the area in compliance. Subcommittee members questioned the impact on economic development of the measures recommended. The Houston area is required to be in compliance by 2007.

Other invited testimony included Brian Murray, representing the Texas Department of Economic Development. Murray testified that Texas is leading the nation in job growth. Tonia Ramirez, representing the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) testified about transportation conformity and the impact of regulations relating to the Clean Air Act on transportation.

Public testimony began with Dr. Jim Lester, the Director of the Environmental Institute of Houston, and a professor at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Also testifying was David Benson representing the City of Pasadena, Fred Welch, Executive Director of the Brazoria County Partnership, Mike Rosell representing Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, Rick Lawrence representing LaMarque Economic Development Corporation and Toy Wood representing the Greater Houston Builders Association.

The committee will continue hearings throughout the interim and report its findings to the full committee for inclusion in the final report to be presented to the 77th Legislature. The 77th Legislature will convene in January of 2001.