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Texas Senate
March 16, 2009
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EU Ambassador John Bruton
Former Ireland PM and current EU Ambassador to the U.S. John Bruton addressed the Senate Monday, calling for continued focus on education and the environment.

(AUSTIN) — The Ambassador to the United States from the European Union addressed the Texas Senate Monday, calling for continued cooperation on economic development and environmental policies. John Bruton was welcomed to the Senate on a resolution from Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini. Bruton pointed out the importance of good Texas-European relations to economies on both sides of the Atlantic. "Sixty-one percent of all foreign investment in Texas comes to this great state from the countries of the European Union," he said. "In a sense, we Europeans own part of Texas, and you Texans own part of Europe."

Bruton praised Texas lawmakers for preserving economic growth in Texas while other states are experiencing record budget shortfalls. He also complimented Senators for focusing on public education, saying "in these difficult times, education is the most important investment, because people are the most valuable resource that we all have."

Sen. Van de Putte, Sen. Lucio, Sen. Zaffirini, Sen. Averitt, Sen. Hinojosa, Sen. Duncan, Sen. Davis, Ambassador Bruton
Senators (L-to-R) Leticia Van de Putte, Eddie Lucio, Judith Zaffirini, Kip Averitt, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Robert Duncan and Wendy Davis pose with EU Ambassador to the U.S. John Bruton (center) during his visit to the Senate Chamber Monday.

Bruton also urged Senators to work toward environmentally-friendly energy policies, specifically promoting a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions in Texas. Under such a system, the government caps the total amount of carbon that can be emitted in a given time period. Heavier polluters can purchase credits from lower polluting industries, allowing them more carbon emissions, but the total level of carbon emitted by all industries cannot exceed the cap. "We believe that this can be the basis for an international agreement where all of us together can make it more attractive to invest in renewable energies, to invest in those activities that do not adversely affect our climate," said Bruton.

Bruton served as the Prime Minister of Ireland from 1994-1997, and has served as EU Ambassador to the U.S. since 2004.

There was a slight delay in progress on the Voter ID bill, which was supposed to have come before the Senate for debate Monday. A clerical error lead bill author Troy Fraser to offer bill opponents a deferral on the debate until Tuesday. They accepted, and debate on the bill is expected to begin when the Senate reconvenes Tuesday, March 17 at 9 a.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.