SENATE COMMITTEE ON NOMINATIONS
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
11:00 a.m. or upon adjournment
Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule 11.18, a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Nominations was held on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, in the Senate Chamber at Austin, Texas.
Senator Mike Jackson
Senator Kevin Eltife
Senator Glenn Hegar
Senator Jane Nelson
Senator Robert Nichols
Senator Eliot Shapleigh
Senator Kirk Watson
The chair called the meeting to order at 1:46 p.m. There being a quorum present, the following business was transacted:
The following member arrived after the roll was called: Senator Watson.
Senator Nelson moved adoption of the minutes from the previous hearing held on March 7, 2007; without objection, it was so ordered.
Chairman Jackson announced that 32 nominees and one pending nominee would be on the agenda for the meeting.
Chairman Jackson recognized Senator Nelson to introduce Louis Sturns, nominee to the Texas Public Safety Commission. Nelson highly recommended Sturns for confirmation by the committee.
Chairman Jackson called Thomas Weir Labbatt, nominee to the Water Development Board, to the table. The chair recognized Senator Van de Putte to introduce Labbatt to the committee. Van de Putte highly recommended Labbatt for confirmation by the committee.
Chairman Jackson recognized Weir Labbatt for opening comments. Labbatt briefed the committee on his experiences as a member of the Water Development Board over the last five years.
Chairman Jackson asked Labbatt how many members are on the Water Development Board. Labbatt responded that six members are on the board. Chairman Jackson asked if the board ever reaches a tie vote on any issue. Labbatt said that he cannot remember any tie votes; the majority of the board's votes are unanimous. Labbatt explained that 264 people are currently employed by the Water Development Board.
Chairman Jackson recognized Senator Hegar. Senator Hegar brought up the issue of reservoir designation. Hegar questioned Labbatt on whether mitigated areas should be maintained by the state or by private land owners. Hegar believes that mitigated acres should be maintained by private owners rather than the government. Labbatt agreed that it would be good public policy for reservoir maintenance to be the responsibility of private owners.
The confirmation of Weir Labbatt was left pending subject to the arrival of a quorum.
Chairman Jackson called Allan Polunsky and Louis Sturns, nominees to the Texas Public Safety Commission, to the table. Chairman Jackson recognized Senator Van de Putte to introduce Allan Polunsky to the committee. The chair read an introduction for Polunsky written by Senator Wentworth. Both Van de Putte and Wentworth highly recommended Polunsky for confirmation by the committee.
The chair recognized the nominees for opening remarks. Polunsky and Sturns both feel honored to have been appointed and look forward to serving the state.
Chairman Jackson questioned Sturns about meetings at the commission and what they entail. Sturns explained that the commission has monthly meetings and that two commissioners are currently serving.
Chairman Jackson asked Sturns which issues the commission is concerned with currently. Sturns explained the current issues and responsibilities of the Public Safety Commission.
The chair asked Sturns about the DPS employee training academy. Jackson expressed his concern that DPS is having trouble filling up this academy. Sturns said that the academy has fallen from 120 to 77 trainees.
Chairman Jackson recognized Senator Hegar. Senator Hegar told the nominees that, if confirmed, they will be the top of the chain for a well-respected agency. Hegar asked that the commissioners continue to work on behalf of the DPS troopers in order to make their jobs easier.
Chairman Jackson recognized Senator Van de Putte. Senator Van de Putte explained the Real ID Act to the committee. Van de Putte asked that the commissioners continue to focus on the issues associated with the implementation of that act.
Chairman Jackson asked if the DPS is in good shape as far as personnel and facilities. Sturns said that he does not have much information on the issue, but he feels that things are running smoothly.
The confirmation of Allan Polunsky and Louis Sturns was left pending subject to the arrival of a quorum.
At 2:30 p.m. Senator Jackson moved that the committee stand recessed until 2:40 p.m; without objection, it was so ordered.
At 2:41 p.m. the committee reconvened. The chair announced that a quorum was present.
At 2:42 p.m., by a vote of 5 ayes and 2 absent, the committee voted to recommend Thomas Labbatt to the full Senate for confirmation.
Senator Eltife moved that the nominations of Allan Polunsky and Louis Sturns be confirmed by the committee. At 2:43 p.m., by a vote of 5 ayes and 2 absent, the committee voted to recommend Allan Polunsky and Louis Sturns to the full Senate for confirmation.
Senator Eltife moved that the committee vote on the non-appearing nominees to the following entities: Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, Adjutant General of Texas, Chief Administrative Law Judge, Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, Texas Funeral Service Commission, Judge of the 433rd Judicial District Court, Comal County, State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Office of Rural Community Affairs, State Preservation Board, Public Counsel for the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, State Cemetery Committee, State Securities Board, Texas School Safety Center Board, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. At 2:44 p.m., by a vote of 5 ayes and 2 absent, the nominees were sent to the full Senate for confirmation.
There being no further business, at 2:44 p.m. Senator Jackson moved that the Committee stand recessed subject to the call of the chair. Without objection, it was so ordered.
Senator Mike Jackson, Chair
Katherine Chapman, Clerk