Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 21, 2001
Contact: Doris Sanchez
(512) 463-0127

House passes historic legislation by Sen. Lucio allotting $175 million to Border counties to pave colonia streets and build access ways to public roads for colonias

AUSTIN, TX--Two measures by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, that would give Border counties $175 million to pave colonia streets and provide colonias access to public roads were given approval on Saturday, May 19, in the House.

"I commend my House sponsor, Rep. Kino Flores, D-Mission, and the Texas House for passing Senate Bill 1296 and Senate Joint Resolution 37 that will for the first time allow, upon voter approval, the issuance of bonds so that residents of colonias can enjoy roads that are safer and cleaner," said Sen. Lucio.

SJR 37, the Constitutional amendment, authorizes the Texas Public Finance Authority to issue general obligation bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $175 million.

SB 1296 requires the governor's office to determine the amount of bonds to be issued at any one time and the Texas Transportation Commission to establish a program to administer the use of the proceeds of the bonds. This enabling legislation also requires the Texas Department of Transportation to administer the program in cooperation with the office of the governor, the secretary of state and the Texas A&M University Center for Housing and Urban Development.

Colonia residents continue to live in neighborhoods with streets that are nothing more than dirt and "caliche" paths subject to intense flooding after a rain. Lacking curbs and drainage, colonia streets create barriers to everything from school bus and postal deliveries to emergency services. Usually below sea level, colonia roads fill with stagnant water that creates prime breeding habitat for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases.

"We have made great efforts through the Colonia Omnibus Bill I authored last session to bring water, wastewater and electric hook-up services to our colonias, but the terrible conditions of unpaved streets and lack of access ways to public roads had not yet been addressed, and I'm thrilled that we are passing out legislation that will help achieve this goal," added Sen. Lucio.

Authorized projects would include the construction of colonia access roads, the acquisition of materials used in maintaining these roads and projects related to the construction of access roads, such as projects for the drainage of the roads.

The constitutional amendment, which will be placed on the November statewide ballot, would authorize the Texas Transportation Commission, within its discretion and in consultation with the office of the governor, to determine what constitutes a border colonia when selecting the counties and projects to receive assistance.

After Sen. Lucio concurs with a few technical changes made to the bill, it must be approved by the full Senate and then sent to the Governor for his signature.

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Note: Director of Subcommittee on Border Affairs and of Legislation, Mr. Daniel Esparza, is handling this legislation.

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