Wednesday, March 24, 2004 
                                     9:30 a.m. 
                      Betty King Committee Hearing Room, 2E.20 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.18, a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Business &  
         Commerce was held on Wednesday, March 24, 2004, in the Betty  
         King Committee Hearing Room, 2E.20, at Austin, Texas. 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Troy Fraser                     Senator Kenneth  
         Senator Kip Averitt                     Senator Mike Jackson 
         Senator Kim Brimer                      Senator Leticia Van de  
         Senator Craig Estes 
         Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. 
         Senator Tommy Williams 
         Chairman Fraser called the meeting to order at 9:36 a.m.  There  
         being a quorum present, the following business was transacted:   
         Chairman Fraser welcomed members and others present to the first  
         interim meeting of the Business and Commerce Committee.  The  
         Chairman advised that copies of the Committee Rules, as adopted  
         at the beginning of the 78th legislative session, had been  
         distributed to the members for their review prior to the  
         meeting.  The Chairman proposed that the Committee continue to  
         operate under the same rules during the interim unless there was  
         objection.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. 
         The Chairman advised that, as the members are aware, the  
         Committee has a number of interim charges to cover during the  
         interim.  At this hearing, the Committee would discuss and hear  
         both invited and public testimony on interim charge #1, relating  
         to the Texas unemployment compensation insurance program. 
         Chairman Fraser called the first invited witness, Chair Diane  
         Rath, Texas Workforce Commission, Commissioner Representing the  
         Public.  The Chairman also called Ron Lehman, Texas Workforce  
         Commission, Commissioner Representing Employers.  Chair Rath  
         presented an overview of  the status of the Texas  unemployment  
         insurance program.  Commissioner Lehman discussed overpayments,  
         due particularly to fraud and abuse, and the actions that the  
         Texas Workforce Commission is taking to remedy the situation.   
         Discussion and questions followed regarding various issues  
         within the unemployment insurance program. 
         Upon completion of testimony and response to members' questions  
         by Chair Rath and Commissioner Lehman, Chairman Fraser called  
         Bill Hammond, President of Texas Association of Business.   Mr.  
         Hammond suggested a few changes that might be made to improve  
         efficiency at the agency regarding unemployment insurance.    
         During Mr. Hammond's testimony, Chairman Fraser called Tommy  
         Simmons, counsel for the Texas Association of Business,  to  
         respond to members' questions. 
         Chairman Fraser then called the final invited witness, Rick  
         Levy, representing the Texas AFL-CIO.   Mr. Levy testified that  
         while there are cases of fraud by unemployed workers, there are  
         employers that are skirting their responsibilities through  
         loopholes and fraudulent activities as well.   Mr. Levy then  
         presented his testimony and responded to members' questions. 
         Following Mr. Levy's testimony, the Chairman called for public  
         testimony. There being no public witnesses wishing to testify,  
         Chairman Fraser moved that public testimony be closed; without  
         objection, it was so ordered. 
         There being no further business, at 11:45 a.m. Senator Averitt  
         moved that the Committee stand recessed subject to the call of  
         the Chairman.  Without objection, it was so ordered.   
         Senator Troy Fraser, Chairman 
         Tatum Baker, Clerk