The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Senator David Sibley of Waco was chosen to chair Governor Bush's Task Force on Illegal Gambling. The group met for the first time on Wednesday, October 15, at the State Capitol where the governor made brief remarks emphasizing the importance of the issue. The members are responsible for looking into the problem of casino gambling and the presence of gambling machines all over the state. Providing testimony for the task force were representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety, officers from Houston, Travis County and Corpus Christi Police Departments, and several attorneys from around the state. Also testifying were representatives from the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the Gambling Helpline.
HOUSTON - The Senate Interim Committee on North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) held a public hearing at the University of Houston on Monday, October 13. The members examined the importance of reliable and safe transportation and its effect on the continued growth of Texas' international trade. Senator Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi who chairs the committee voiced concerns about poor conditions of rail services and the impact they have on state highways, Texas businesses and its citizens.
"Texas businesses have suffered multi-million dollar losses due to rail shipment problems," Truan said. "Poor rail service has an immediate effect on the use of trucks to ship goods in and out of the state of Texas. Increasing the number of trucks damages the highways, raises maintenance costs, and endangers the driving public. When heavy loads are diverted from railroads to the highways, every Texan pays."
Committee members Mario Gallegos of Houston, John Carona of Dallas, Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, and Senator Jon Lindsay of Houston joined Senator Truan in explaining that Texas allots only 33 cents for every dollar to keep highways up to standard. Truan noted that an 80,000 pound truck does as much damage as 9,800 automobiles and the taxes on trucks do not pay for the damage they cause.
Testifying in front of the committee were representatives from numerous Texas businesses that have placed their reliance on truck transportation rather than the rail service due to the problems they have experienced. Those testifying made it clear that immediate action needs to be taken regarding the transportation of goods. Since 1990, Texas exports to Mexico have increased over 100 percent and exports to Canada have risen 119 percent. Eighty percent of Mexico's trade with the United States and Canada passes through Texas and these numbers will continue to rise.
"The future of our continued success in international trade is totally dependent on business' ability to move its products quickly and efficiently," said Truan. "...the state of Texas should be prepared to support businesses involved in international trade by making sure that they have distribution and shipping services when they need them."