The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Keeping oil wells open, jobs intact and money flowing towards schools were the main reasons 25 senators supported the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 290. The bill provides severance tax relief for small producing wells in Texas' oil and gas industry, a tax break just large enough to help them remain open until prices rise and they once again become profitable. Four senators--Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, Steve Ogden of Bryan and John Whitmire of Houston--chose not to vote because of conflicts of interest. Senator Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso voted against the measure.
Some senators arguing in favor of the tax exemption feared wells that shut down now while oil prices are low could potentially stay out of production when and if prices bounce back.
Lake Jackson Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown, the bill's sponsor, argued that wells are a major source of revenue for the State of Texas. Brown and Lt. Governor Rick Perry both noted that the oil and gas industry has served Texas well, hinting that it may be time for the state to give something back. Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo cited statistics from school districts in South Texas that receive as much as 75% of their local school tax from the industry. Brown said that when a well is shut down, the property value drops, and schools lose out on those funds.
Perry strongly supports the bill and believes the House will take it up quickly. At least two of the House sponsors, including Appropriations Committee Chair Rob Junell of San Angelo, were in the Senate Chamber during today's session indicating he may be right. Perry said he might support a permanent tax clause featuring the proposals in SB 290 although he hopes it will not be necessary.
A few senators, including Moncrief and Senator Gregory Luna of San Antonio, told their personal stories about kidney disease before naming today 'Kidney Day at the Capitol'. Moncrief made a plea to his fellow senators to become organ donors, "I urge you, I urge the members of the press and all those present within the sound of my voice to consider this a priority for this state, Mr. President and members, it could make a big, big difference and that might happen sooner than you might think."
Senators also honored the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), recognizing this week as National LULAC week. LULAC, which originated in Corpus Christi in 1929, is the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country. Shapleigh thanked National LULAC chair Belen Robles, for his leadership in education.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m.
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Human Services Committee Public Hearing at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Intergovernmental Relations Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.028
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Administration Committee Public Hearing at 10:00 a.m. or upon adjournment of the Senate in the Capitol Extension, room E1.714
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Education Committee Public Hearing at 11:00 a.m. or 30 minutes upon adjournment in the Capitol Extension, room E1.012
- 2/10/99, Wednesday - Nominations Committee Public Hearing at 1:00 p.m. in 2E.20/Lt. Gov. Committee Room
- 2/11/99, Thursday - Border Affairs Special Committee Public Hearing at 8:30 a.m. in 2E.20/Lt. Gov. Committee Room
- 2/11/99, Thursday - Subcommittee on Technology & Business Growth Public Hearing at 8:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.028
- 2/11/99, Thursday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
- 2/11/99, Thursday - Subcommittee on Agriculture Public Hearing at 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment of the Senate in E1.012
- 2/11/99, Thursday - Subcommittee on Infrastructure Public Hearing at 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment of the Senate at Senator Cain's Desk
- 2/11/99, Thursday - State Affairs Public Hearing at 12:30 p.m. or 30 minutes upon adjournment in the Senate Chamber