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Monitor the enforcement of H.B. 1001, 74th Legislature,
the colonias bill, and identify any provisions that need to be
clarified or strengthened.
Assess the progress of the Texas Water Development Board's
"economically distressed areas program" with regard
to the number of applications received and the number of water
and wastewater projects actually implemented in the colonias.
Monitor implementation of, and make recommendations for,
any needed changes in legislation passed by the 74th Legislature
to address the problems of the colonias.
The colonias originated as makeshift housing along the Texas-Mexico
border for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and evolved
into permanent residences for migrant families. The existence
of third-world environmental and health conditions within Texas
created by the lack of safe drinking water and sewer treatment
prompted the legislature to pass comprehensive colonias legislation
in 1989 that attempted to: (1) provide water and wastewater service
in the colonias; (2) stop the further development of substandard
housing; and (3) improve affordable housing opportunities in areas
where water and wastewater services already exist. In response
to the continued growth of substandard housing in the border region,
the 74th Legislature enacted legislation with tougher measures
aimed at the developers of substandard colonias housing.
Although the committee found that the legislature's approach toward the colonias was fundamentally sound, it made several recommendations for addressing loopholes and problems that have arisen with previous colonias legislation. The committee recommends that the legislature:
Assess the effect of NAFTA on Texas' infrastructure,
including transportation and the environment, with special attention
to its impact along the Texas-Mexico border.
Study and make recommendations regarding methods and
programs to expand international trade, with particular focus
on the use of technology.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is having a direct
impact on the Texas economy. While NAFTA will undoubtedly have
a beneficial impact on commerce, areas of concern include its
effects on the state's transportation system and the environment.
NAFTA will result in an increase in truck traffic on Texas highways
as Mexican and American carriers transport goods to and from Mexico.
The increase in commerce brought about by NAFTA is also creating
economic dislocations and adjustments that are putting pressure
on the border area's resources and environment. NAFTA-related
environmental concerns include border area water management, air
pollution, and the disposal of hazardous waste. As the committee
report makes clear, "borders do not stop pollution. Mexican
environmental practices directly affect Texas communities and
The committee observes that only two years after the implementation
of NAFTA, Texas has already begun to reap the economic benefits
from increased trade flowing from Mexico. Nevertheless, the report
makes several recommendations aimed at both mitigating some of
the concerns brought about by NAFTA and ways to further promote
trade. The committee recommends that the legislature: