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December 17, 1999     (512) 463-0300

INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS MEETS IN McALLEN

McALLEN - The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee held a public hearing Thursday, December 16, 1999 at the City of McAllen International Civic Center. The committee concentrated on two of the four charges issued to the committee by Lt. Governor Rick Perry for study during the interim. The committee is chaired by Senator Frank L. Madla of San Antonio. Members of the committee include Senators Jon Lindsay of Houston, serving as vice-chair, Rodney Ellis of Houston, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, and Drew Nixon of Carthage. Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. joined the committee for the hearing.

The hearing began with McAllen Mayor Leo Montalvo welcoming the senators to McAllen. The first issue discussed was related to the 'design-build' form of bidding on state projects and evaluating the potential benefits. The 'design-build' method of construction allows engineers, architects, and builders to form teams and bid on state projects. Currently, state law mandates that each entity must bid separately on public projects. The committee is directed to compare Texas' current bidding practice to methods used in other states and in the private sector. The committee will be evaluating the 'design-build' option as it relates to buildings, roads, and other publicly funded projects.

The committee heard testimony related to 'design-build' bidding on public projects from Mike Allen representing the Texas Border Infrastructure Coalition; Charles Maddox representing Landmark Organization; Hidalgo County Judge Eloy Pulido; Ches Carthel, Chief Engineer of Water Utilities for the City of Lubbock; Edward Drusina P.E., Director of Public Works for the City of El Paso; Howard Pebley, President of the McAllen Construction Company; Tom Peterson, President of Peterson Construction; Bill Wilson, President of D. Wilson Construction Company; David Negrete, representing Cotera, Kolan and Negrete Architects; Paul Vazaldua, Jr. representing Border Visions; Servando Herrera representing El Jardin Landscaping; Joe Marines, School Trustee, Weslaco ISD; and Efrem Casarez and Robert Daigh of the Texas Department of Transportation.

The committee also heard testimony relating to the study and funding of the Council of Governments (COGs). The committee is examining the changing relationship between state and federal governments since 1982. The committee is monitoring the compliance by COGs regarding publication of financial statements.

Testimony regarding the COGs was presented by Rosa Cavazos representing Congressman Ruben Hinojosa; Sunny Philip, City Manager of La Feria; Norma Garcia, Hidalgo County Treasurer and Israel Tamez, Willacy County Commissioner representing the Lower Rio Grande Development Council; Nick Gallegos, Jimmy Patterson and Leudoro Martinez, Jr. representing Middle Rio Grande Development Council; Tommy Shearrer representing Alamo Area Council of Governments; Glenn Jarvis representing Rio Grande Regional Planning; Sandy Mauro and Sam Guzman representing the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs; Steve Ahlenius representing the McAllen Chamber of Commerce; Jim Darling, McAllen City Attorney; Hector Maldonado representing Rio Grande Steel; and Steve Vassberg representing TSTC/Harlingen.

The committee will submit a summary of its findings in the form of a report to the 77th Legislature, which convenes in January of 2001.

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