From the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27
For Immediate Release
June 15, 2001
Contact: Doris Sanchez
Landmark Measures authored by Border Chairman Signed into Law
AUSTIN, TX--A number of legislative measures carried by the Chairman of the Border Affairs Subcommittee, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville), were signed into law yesterday by Governor Rick Perry.
"This is the first series of Border-related bills signed into law by Governor Perry. I am thankful that the Governor agreed with our research and with the merit of these very important measures," Lucio said.
One of the bills that was signed into law is Senate Bill 195 that establishes the first ever Border Trade Advisory Committee in the Texas Transportation Commission.
Chairman Lucio noted, "Historically, the Border region has been overlooked by the Transportation Commission in terms of our fair share of funding. This neglect was caused by a lack of appreciation of the Border and a lack of representation of the region in the Commission. SB 195 is a first step in the right direction to increase accountability of our transportation agency to the Border region."
Specifically, SB 195 requires the Transportation Commission to establish the Border Trade Advisory Committee to define and make recommendations to the commission, as well as to develop a strategy for addressing the highest priority Border trade transportation challenges.
SB 195 further requires the commission to consider the importance of Texas' trade with Mexican states, potential sources of infrastructure funding at Border ports and the value of trade activity in the Border Transportation Districts of Pharr, Laredo and El Paso, when determining the action to be taken on the recommendations of the Border Trade Advisory Committee.
"Without a doubt, SB 195 will help increase the representation of the Border region in one of the most powerful and influential commissions in the state of Texas!," added Sen. Lucio.
Another bill signed into law was Senate Bill 1296 that would give Border counties $175 million to pave colonia streets and provide colonias access to public roads.
"SB 1296, along with its constitutional amendment (SJR 37), 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," explained Sen. Lucio.
Specifically, SB 1296 addresses the current conditions of colonia residents who continue to live in neighborhoods with streets that are nothing more than dirt and "caliche" paths subject to intense flooding after a rain. Usually below sea level, colonia roads fill with stagnant water that creates prime breeding habitat for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases. Lacking curbs and drainage, existing colonia "streets" often become barriers to school buses, postal delivery trucks and emergency vehicles.
"In 1999, we made great strides by passing the Colonia Omnibus Bill to bring water, wastewater and electric hook-up services to our colonias. However, at that time we were not able to address the lack of adequate roads in colonias. SB 1296 is part of a series of bills that we have passed over the years to address the quality of life of colonia residents," added Sen. Lucio. "That is why I am thankful for the support of the leadership in Texas, especially of the Governor's office, through SB 1296. The state of Texas and the Governor's office will partner up with our Border counties to help pave colonia streets and better the lives of colonia residents."
Also signed into law were the following:
SB 108 - requires school districts to start classes no earlier than the week in which August 21 falls. Includes a waiver for which a school district can apply by posting a newspaper notice with the date it plans to begin school no later than 60 days before submitting the waiver application. School districts must also hold a public hearing to discuss the earlier start date and submit any input from the hearing along with the waiver request to the Texas Education Agency. Existing year-round schools are exempt.
SB 538 - instructs the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to conduct a study of the duties that counselors are currently responsible for performing and examine how their time is distributed amongst them. This detailed study will assess the workload of public school counselors and will identify any changes that should be made in order to provide counselors with the resources and work environments they need.
SB 303 - requires the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to better inform the public and judges about its activities and the process for filing a complaint; enables complainants to more meaningfully participate in the complaint process, without fear of retaliation; removes confidentiality restrictions that impede the Commission's ability to effectively oversee judicial conduct; provides feedback to judicial training schools to better prevent and deter judicial misconduct.
NOTE: Additional Border related bills are on the Governor's desk, awaiting final approval.