FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 31, 2008
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385
Sen. Lucio’s IRT Committee to address growth, infrastructure and development needs of rural and border Texas
Joint efforts with Transportation and Homeland Security Committee to address criminal activity on border
AUSTIN, TX -- On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst directed the International Relations and Trade Committee (IRT) chaired by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. to address the growth, infrastructure and development needs of rural and border Texas through his interim charge appointments.
"I am thankful that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has given us broad-based charges that will allow my committee the necessary flexibility to address the issues which are most important to communities like those in my district," said Chairman Lucio.
The IRT Committee was directed to develop recommendations to better provide these communities access to state and federal resources, as well as increase their competitiveness to engender critical development, provide affordable housing, identify community assets, retain/create wealth and produce regional jobs.
"With these charges, my committee will work with community leaders to expand business opportunities in rural and border regions of Texas," explained Sen. Lucio. "Together we will develop the necessary legislative measures to make rural, border and distressed areas economically competitive in our state and global economies."
As part of the comprehensive growth directive, IRT was also instructed to review state and local policies relating to the development and growth in rural and unincorporated regions of the state and to work with the appropriate officials to assess the proliferation of substandard housing.
"I look forward to listening to local and county officials from all across the state about the problems that they have historically experienced with development and growth," noted Sen. Lucio. "Unfortunately, the lack of regulatory guided growth has allowed substandard housing to evolve in many communities. That is why my committee will become the catalyst for the formation of a broad-based coalition of officials, concerned citizens and informed communities with the goal of finally providing our counties the tools that they desperately need for better guided growth."
Chairman Lucio also added, "For far too long the influence of self-serving, unscrupulous developers has prevented counties from acquiring the necessary regulatory authority to stop the proliferation of substandard housing. The time to stand up for the needs of our constituents is now. Our interim report will do precisely that: put the needs of our constituents first."
IRT was also issued a joint interim charge to work together with the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee to study the state's current and long-range need for physicians, dentists, nurses and other allied health and long-term care professionals.
"By working with my good friend and HHS Committee Chair Sen. Jane Nelson," said Sen. Lucio, "both of our committees will develop recommendations to recruit high-need professions, especially for primary care providers and long-term care professionals in the border region of Texas. Clearly this is an opportunity to show the need for expanding critical initiatives, such as our Regional Academic Health Center, to comprehensively address the health care needs of Border Texas."
The IRT Committee will also be working with the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, chaired by Sen. John Carona, to study and make recommendations to stem the tide of undocumented immigration and to reduce criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, within the border region.
"Although there is no question that the federal government has complete authority and jurisdiction over immigration, I welcome the opportunity to work with our local law enforcement agencies, our border sheriffs and the Texas Department of Public Safety to assess how Texas can help them in their efforts to curb the criminal activity along the Border region," Sen. Lucio concluded. "I look forward to working jointly with Sen. Carona, whose leadership will prove invaluable in addressing our border issues."
The other members of the IRT Committee are Senators Dan Patrick (Vice-Chair), Craig Estes, Troy Fraser, Mario Gallegos Jr., Kel Seliger and Carlos Uresti.
Director for IRT is Mr. Dan Esparza.
Texas Senate Committee on International Relations and Trade
Chairman Eddie Lucio, Jr.
- Review state and local policies relating to development and growth in rural and unincorporated regions of the state. Work with housing advocates, county organizations and appropriate officials to assess the proliferation of substandard housing in rural and unincorporated areas.
- Determine the appropriateness of and make recommendations on the existing extraterritorial jurisdiction authority currently granted under colonia prevention measures along the border region.
- Develop recommendations to better provide Border and rural communities access to state and federal resources. Review the programs established by different states and recommend initiatives that Texas can enact to increase the competitiveness of these communities, engender critical development, provide affordable housing, identify community assets, retain/create wealth and create regional jobs. Study and make recommendations to expand business opportunities in international markets for businesses located in economically distressed areas, including rural and Border areas.
- Study the state's current and long-range need for physicians, dentists, nurses, and other allied health and long-term care professionals. Make recommendations to recruit high-need professions, especially for primary care providers and long-term care professionals in the Border region of Texas. (Joint charge with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee)
- Study and make recommendations to stem the tide of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human smuggling, and to reduce the criminal activities within the Border region. (Joint charge with Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security)
- Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the International Relations and Trade Committee, 80th Legislature, Regular Session, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation.