FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2010
As Chairman of the International Relations and Trade (IRT) Committee I am excited about getting to work on the recent interim committee charges issued by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Between biennial sessions, every committee in the Texas Senate and House is charged to study, review and make recommendations for possible legislation on specific issues affecting state policy.
The charges that I requested for IRT and that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst provided put the committee at the forefront of assisting our border, coastal and rural communities in job creation and in their trade efforts.
This interim, my committee will work on key legislative reforms to address the capacity and resource needs of Texas' communities, so that they can be better equipped to participate, compete, and grow in today's increasingly international marketplace.
Some of our communities lack the resources and access to critical development funds, which pose major impediments for them to participate in commerce. This is particularly true for distressed regions like the border, as well as coastal and rural communities.
Many of these communities are in my Senatorial District 27, but of course there are others outside the five-county region of Cameron, Hidalgo (part), Kenedy, Kleberg and Willacy counties that I represent.
These charges will provide us the forum to work with key county and local officials in crafting the needed reforms that will enable them to engage in trade, tourism and comprehensive regional development.
Our Committee is committed to developing critical recommendations and the right reforms needed to increase Texas' competitive edge by allowing every community in our state to participate in the global marketplace. Through improved commerce and proper assistance by our state, Texas will benefit with a more vibrant and energetic economy.
Trade and commerce are dependent on the timely transport, as well as arrival of goods. That is why I welcomed the charge to develop efficiencies to reduce the crossing time for commerce shipments and expedite trade with Mexico, while not compromising security.
This is also a great opportunity to enhance trade in coastal communities and more fully utilize our Texas ports to reduce shipment delays.
Over the last two decades, IRT has developed legislative expertise in homeownership and substandard housing matters, particularly in colonias. We have done so because addressing the quality of life of low-income residents has been one of my main priorities since I was elected to public office. Although we have made progress in addressing the plight of those living in substandard housing along the border, much more needs to be done.
Consulting with key community, state and local officials, we will examine the effectiveness of our colonia prevention and remediation efforts, as well as homeownership initiatives geared to distressed areas.
Providing greater affordable housing opportunities in regions with limited resources is critical to true community development. That is why I requested and received a charge to spearhead this issue in the Texas Senate.
From Brownsville to Beaumont, Laredo to Lubbock, El Paso to Wichita Falls, the needs of distressed, coastal and smaller communities will be addressed through the interim hearings of the IRT Committee.
Further information on the IRT Committee's interim charges and activities can be obtained at the Texas Legislature Online website or by calling the IRT Committee at (512) 463-0385.