FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--On Tuesday, April 3, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee gave its approval to Senate Bill 1282 by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, that creates a program supporting water port projects to improve the state's intermodal transportation related to commerce and trade.
Co-author of the measure, state Sen. David Bernsen, D-Beaumont, said "With the passage of this bill by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, we've taken the first step toward ensuring that Texas' ports remain competitive. Port freight infrastructure is important to the state economy and this bill will provide much-needed support."
Sen. Lucio, chairman of the Subcommittee on Border Affairs, explaining why he filed the legislation said, "I felt compelled to introduce SB 1282 after hearing testimony at our Interim Committee on Border Affairs hearings clearly showing that even though our ports are key, essential components of Texas' intermodal system, the state does not directly invest its revenues to build, renovate or expand port operations."
SB 1282 recognizes the economic impact of the state's ports and establishes a Port Transportation and Economic Development Program. The bill requires the Texas Department of Economic Development (TDED) to fund, from money in the port access account fund, port transportation or facility projects. The port access account fund is established through this legislation and is held in the general revenue fund.
Sen. Lucio further said that representatives from the Texas Ports Association and the Brownsville Navigational District have repeatedly urged the Legislature to help Texas' ports compete with Florida, California and Louisiana ports.
The advisory committee is further required to develop a two-year port capital program that defines the goals and objectives of the committee concerning the development of port facilities and projects. TDED must convene the first meeting of the committee by January 1, 2002.
"Up to now, Texas has greatly underutilized its marine water ports as far as other transportation routes," said Sen. Lucio. "With our NAFTA trade, I feel it is critical that we enhance our port freight infrastructure, and this legislation will help us work toward that goal."
Note: Staff member handling legislation is Legislative Director Daniel Esparza.