Friday, June 9, 2006 
                                     9:00 a.m. 
                     City Council Chambers, Corpus Christi, TX 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.18, a public hearing of the Subcommittee on Agriculture,  
         Rural Affairs and Coastal Resources was held on Friday, June 9,  
         2006, in the City Council Chambers, Corpus Christi, TX 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Craig Estes                     None 
         Senator Juan Hinojosa 
         Senator Mike Jackson 
         The chair called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.  There being  
         a quorum present, the following business was transacted:   
         Chairman Estes thanked Senator Hinojosa and his staff for  
         coordinating the hearing in Corpus Christi and welcomed the  
         public who were in attendance. 
         Chairman Estes asked that the minutes from the May 1, 2006,  
         hearing be approved.  Senator Jackson so moved, and there was no  
         Chairman Estes called on Corpus Christi Mayor, Henry Garrett, to  
         say a few words.  Chairman Estes then recognized Representative  
         Vilma Luna, Corpus Christi, who was in attendance.   
         Representative Luna addressed the Senate Subcommittee concerning  
         the importance of cooperation between local and state entities  
         in making the most of CEPRA funding. 
         Chairman Estes recognized Senator Kyle Janek of Houston as a  
         special guest at the hearing.  Senator Janek discussed his  
         background and experience with the Coastal Erosion Planning and  
         Response Program (CEPRA) and how vital continuation and funding  
         for the program was for his district.  He pointed out CEPRA  
         should be funded from a combination of several funding sources,  
         and should be more effectively used to draw down federal funds.   
         Chairman Estes asked how much federal money was left after each  
         funding cycle and Senator Janek responded that Texas only uses  
         1% of the federal money available.  He then pointed out that  
         money raised by state parks should stay in the state parks. 
         Chairman Estes then began with the invited testimony portion of  
         the hearing addressing Interim Charge 2:  Study the  
         effectiveness of the Coastal Erosion Planning and Response  
         Program (CEPRA) and make recommendations to improve the program,  
         identify funding sources, and determine the roles of federal and  
         local governments in erosion response. 
         Mayor Henry Garrett was recalled to testify on behalf of the  
         City of Corpus Christi.  Mayor Garrett explained the history of  
         the Packery Channel dredging project and its impact on Corpus  
         Christi and North Padre Island.  He highlighted the total  
         benefit of CEPRA to Corpus Christi and explained CEPRA funding  
         was used for the Packery Channel project.  In addition to Mayor  
         Garrett's remarks, Tom Utter, also with the City of Corpus  
         Christi, spoke and presented a slide presentation about the  
         Packery Channel project and the importance of CEPRA funding in  
         getting the project completed.  Senator Janek and Senator  
         Hinojosa discussed the cost of upkeep on the Packery Channel. 
         Chairman Estes then called the Honorable Chuck Cazales, County  
         Commissioner of Nueces County to testify.  Commissioner Cazales  
         represents the north eastern part of Nueces County, including  
         parts of Port Aransas and North Padre Island.  He spoke of some  
         of the opposition to the proposed closure of the beach to  
         vehicle traffic.  He also drew attention to the importance of  
         seaweed in mitigating erosion.  Commissioner Cazales then  
         addressed the safety of the island residents and pointed out  
         that we have just entered hurricane season. 
         The next witnesses were Michael Kovacs, City Manager of Port  
         Aransas, and the Honorable Claude Brown, newly elected Mayor of  
         Port Aransas.  Michael Kovacs testified that the beaches in Port  
         Aransas were accreting and that the City of Port Aransas was  
         against any sort of Hotel/Motel tax.  Senator Hinojosa discussed  
         the idea of using a mixture of funds for CEPRA including a  
         property tax.  Mayor Brown reiterated the City's opposition to a  
         Hotel/Motel tax and stated funding should come from General  
         Chairman Estes then called Ms. Kelly Hamby, City Secretary for  
         the Village of Surfside and member of Brazoria County Shoreline  
         Restoration Task Force.  Ms. Hamby provided testimony on the  
         problems facing a small town on the Gulf and how CEPRA and other  
         grants were critical to responding to erosion and clean up after  
         tropical storms.  She started by claiming the Freeport Channel  
         was a major source of erosion in her area.  She then stated  
         CEPRA should be used to address property loss due to flooding  
         and protection from loss of life during hurricanes first.  She  
         asked for an independent review of CEPRA funding, stated that  
         the CEPRA program needs work, and pointed out that there might  
         be a conflict of interest as the GLO is serves as the grant  
         administrator and fulfills a regulatory role at the same time. 
         The next witnesses were Michael Perez and Nelda Olivo, both with  
         the Port of Corpus Christi.  Michael Perez agreed CEPRA can  
         benefit from additional funding, but opposed any CEPRA tax on  
         ports.  He stated erosion is not due to maritime commerce and  
         that any additional fee will push shippers to ports outside of  
         Texas.  He concluded by pointing out that ports receive no  
         funding from the state.  Senator Jackson and Mr. Perez discussed  
         an oil spill in the port.  Mr. Perez pointed out that it was not  
         a spill, but an overflow.  Nelda Olivo discussed the dockage fee  
         that was brought up during the 79th Regular Session.  She  
         pointed out that thousands of ships use the port of Corpus  
         Christi.  They were the last invited speakers. 
         Ms. Diane Falcioni with the Port of Galveston testified about  
         the different ideas for CEPRA funding that would depend on the  
         ports.  She then discussed the budget of the Port of Galveston.   
         Senator Jackson asked about Homeland Security grants the port  
         has received and then asked about the budget.  
         Haskell Simon from Bay City testified about the importance  of  
         CEPRA funding to rural coastal counties without the resources of  
         metropolitan counties.  He spoke specifically about Matagorda  
         Pat Suter Chairwoman of the Coastal Bend Sierra Club testified  
         about the unintended consequences of methods such as jetties to  
         keep channels open.  She also addressed the erosion caused by  
         cleaning beaches and the building of seawalls. 
         Johnny French, retired fish and wildlife biologist, discussed  
         his concerns for the Piping Plover and its protected habitat on  
         North Padre Island.  He expressed concern for the designated  
         critical habitat, TX-7, and the GLO's recently filed suit  
         concerning TX-7.  He felt that closing the beach south of  
         Packery Chanel to vehicles would adversely affect TX-7 and the  
         Piping Plover. 
         Sally Davenport, Coastal Planner, from Austin testified.  She  
         helped draft the original CEPRA legislation and believes CEPRA  
         needs more funding in order to fund long-term projects.  She  
         also pointed out the importance of finding reliable sand sources  
         in the state. 
         Ray Allen with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program  
         testified about the importance of a healthy wetland system to  
         sustain the eco-system along the coast of Texas.  He stated that  
         it is often a challenge for local entities to provide the local  
         match required by CEPRA.  He addressed the problem of reservoirs  
         capturing sediment that should be entering the state's bays and  
         estuaries and claimed that in some places along the coast, bird  
         populations are down by 90%. 
         After the conclusion of all the testimony, Senator Jackson moved  
         that the Subcommittee stand at recess, subject to the call of  
         the Chairman.  It was so ordered and the hearing ended at 11:30  
         Senator Craig Estes, Chair 
         Kingsbery Otto, Clerk