FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2002
Who: State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., Chairman, and members of the committee
What: Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs Hearing
When: Thursday, November 14, 2002, at 9:30 a.m.
Where: The Texas Capitol, Room E1.036
AUSTIN, TX - State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. will hold a special hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs regarding the water Mexico owes South Texas farmers. Under the terms of the 1944 Mexico-U.S. Water Treaty, Mexico owes the United States 1.5 million acre-feet of water.
All of South Texas relies on water from the Rio Grande for a number of activities, especially as it pertains to agriculture. However, Mexico's failure to repay the water that it owes the U.S. has cost South Texas thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.
"We need to remedy this problem as soon as possible before this issue gets any worse. It is very important that we are united in any decision pertaining to all actions we take to encourage Mexico to honor its agreement," said Sen. Lucio.
Slated to offer testimony are Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs; Texas Attorney General-elect Greg Abbott; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Board Chairman Robert Huston and Executive Director Margaret Hoffman. Also testifying are International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) Commissioner Carlos Ramirez; President of Texas Citrus Mutual Ray Prewett; General Manager of the Mercedes Irrigation District Jo Jo White; General Manager of the Harlingen Irrigation District Wayne Halbert; and General Manager of the Bayview Irrigation District Gordon Hill.
Also expected to attend are representatives from the offices of Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff, Secretary of State Gwyn Shea, Texas Attorney General John Cornyn; Texas Land Commissioner David Dewhurst; Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, the Texas Water Development Board, and the Texas Farm Bureau.
Sen. Lucio wants to bring everyone involved on this matter together to discuss all possible options regarding the next course of action for obtaining the water. Another purpose of the hearing is to update newly elected officials on this issue.
The Subcommittee is charged with identifying unique challenges facing the Texas-Mexico Border region and determining strategic economic development initiatives to assist the region in overcoming the identified challenges. The Subcommittee is also required to recommend initiatives to improve trade and tourism that create a sound foundation for economic development and determine the amount of funding necessary to implement the initiatives. This charge requires a determination of whether such investments will leverage other significant funds or if funding is unlikely from other sources. The Subcommittee may also make recommendations to facilitate commerce and lessen congestion at ports-of-entry at the Texas-Mexico border.
Members of the committee in addition to Sen. Lucio, D-Brownsville, include state Senators Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso; Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio; Frank Madla, D-San Antonio; and John Carona, R-Dallas.
I. Call to Order II. Roll Call III. Opening/Welcoming Remarks Chairman Lucio The Honorable Frank Madla, The Honorable Eliot Shapleigh, The Honorable Leticia Van de Putte IV. Approval of Minutes V. Invited Testimony A. Public Officials The Honorable Susan Combs, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Attorney General- Elect Greg Abbott Helena Colyandro representing the Honorable Gwyn Shea, Secretary of State Eddie Solis representing the Honorable Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller Executive Director Margaret Hoffman and Chairman Robert Huston - TCEQ Jeff Boyd- Deputy Director for Litigation, Texas Attorney General Commissioner Carlos Ramirez - International Boundary and Water Commission B. Public Testimony Brian Jones- representing Texas Farm Bureau Ray Prewett- President, Texas Citris Mutual Jo Jo White- General Manager, Mercedes Irrigation District Wayne Halbert- General Manager, Harlingen Irrigation District Gordon Hill- General Manager, Bay View Irrigation District VI. Other Business VIII. Recess