FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2003
AUSTIN, TX - To increase its effectiveness and response to Texans transportation needs, today the Senate approved a bill by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) that expands the Texas Transportation Commission from three to five members.
Senate Bill 409 would allow the Commission to discuss the Texas Department of Transportations (TxDOT) business without violating the Open Meetings Act, as is occurring now when two members talk on the phone or in person. The bill maintains the same power the Governor now has to appoint all members.
The Texas Sunset Commission, on which Sen. Lucio sits, and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, also recommended raising the membership of this body. He noted, Expansion of the Commission would provide for greater expertise through these additions in directing the states transportation policy.
The growth of Texas population and international trade demand that we expand this Commission, said Sen. Lucio. My bill aligns the representation of the Transportation Commission with that of other state agency policy boards, most of which have more than three members. Of 111 boards and commissions appointed by the Governor, only eight consist of three members, and three of those eight have members who serve full-time.
The current size of the Commission limits its use of subcommittees as a tool in overseeing the agency. It can create two-member subcommittees, but it cannot have two subcommittees simultaneously working on different issuesa primary benefit of subcommittees. The Commissions present status also limits the valuable difference of opinions that subcommittee members can provide.
Sen. Lucio concluded by adding that this is a good policy decision for Texas. The expansion of a Commission that manages billions of dollars a year and must meet the demands of the rapid expansion of the states population makes sense.
Note: Legislative Director Ian Randolph handles this legislation, which is headed to the House for consideration.