Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 1282
By: Lucio
Economic Development


During the 76th Legislative Interim, the Senate Interim Committee on Border
Affairs found that Texas has underutilized marine water ports in its
overall transportation plan.  Several other states have recognized the
importance of port freight infrastructure and have established financing
programs for the improvement, expansion, and direct support of their ports.
Senate Bill 1282 creates a port access account fund to facilitate regional
economic development, international trade, and expedite the flow of
NAFTA-related maritime traffic. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Department of Economic
Development in SECTION 1 (Section 55.004, Transportation Code)  and to the
Texas Port Transportation and Economic Development Advisory Committee in
SECTION 1 (Section 55.007, Transportation Code) of this bill. 


Senate Bill 1282 amends the Transportation Code to create the Texas Port
Transportation and Economic Development Funding Program and the port access
account fund (fund) in the general revenue fund.  The bill requires the
Texas Department of Economic Development (department) to fund port
transportation or facility projects (project) or port studies from money in
the fund and requires money appropriated by the legislature for the
implementation and administration of these provisions, interest earned on
deposits and investments of the fund, and money received from other sources
for port transportation and economic development, to be credited to the
fund.  The bill authorizes money in the fund to be appropriated only to the
department to perform duties and powers concerning port transportation and
economic development and to pay the department's expenses incurred in doing
so.  The bill sets forth projects which are eligible for funding and
prohibits the department from funding a project unless an amount at least
equal to the amount provided by the department is invested in a project by
a port authority or navigation district. 

The bill authorizes the department to subject a project that receives money
to a final audit and authorizes the department to adopt rules and perform
other acts necessary or convenient to ensure that the final audits are
conducted and that any deficiency or questioned costs noted by the audit
are resolved. 

The bill creates the Texas Port Transportation and Economic Development
Advisory Committee (committee) and sets forth provisions regarding the
composition and duties of the committee.  The bill requires the department,
in consultation with the committee, to review the list of projects
recommended by the committee to evaluate the economic benefit of each
project and to approve projects or studies for funding based on its review.
The bill also requires the committee to adopt rules for evaluating projects
that may  be funded under these provisions. 

S.B. 1282 requires the committee to prepare a two-year port capital program
defining the goals and objectives of the committee concerning the
development of port facilities and an intermodal transportation system.
The bill sets forth provisions regarding what must be included in the
program and requires the  committee to update the program annually and to
submit the program not later than February 1 of each year to the governor,
the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and
the department. 


September 1, 2001.