The Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors today voted unanimously to join an alliance of regional planning entities collaborating on opportunities and challenges associated with the Eagle Ford Shale Play. Listen (3:00)
“Recent advances in drilling technologies have created opportunities to develop petroleum resources that were previously considered impractical,” said H-GAC Economic Development Coordinator Chuck Wimple in his presentation to the board. “The Eagle Ford Shale Play is a major economic engine for the State of Texas and abuts the western edge of the H-GAC region. As such, future drilling and production could occur in Austin, Colorado, Montgomery, Walker and Waller Counties; and, the region as a whole could be indirectly impacted as workers, goods and services flow into the development area.”
By the vote, the H-GAC joins the Alamo Area Council of Governments, Capital Area Council of Governments, Coastal Bend Council of Governments, Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, Middle Rio Grande Development Council and South Texas Development Council.
The board voted unanimously to negotiate and enter into a contract with the Texas General Land Office to conduct the H-GAC Round 2 Chambers and Montgomery Counties Disaster Recovery Housing Program, with the amount not to exceed $32,716,914. Listen (3:13)
The board voted unanimously to approve a report by the H-GAC Legislative Committee with a list of items for the group’s agenda for the coming session. Listen (9:34)
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett discussed two issues, indigent health care and transportation funding.
“While it’s nice to say that the state’s going to stand up against Obamacare, the truth of the matter is indigents are going to get health care and it’s going to be paid for by somebody,” Emmett said. “So one of the issues – and we have no position on it yet, but something everybody needs to be aware of, particularly those at the county level - if we don’t go with Medicaid expansion then that means the local property tax(payers) are going to foot the bill for indigent health care. It’s that simple.”
Emmett noted that the legislature will need to come up with funding for transportation projects.
Galveston City Council Member Marie Robb said the legislative agenda should also include windstorm insurance.
“I was up in Austin last week and they were talking about limitations of $250,000, which would have a tremendous negative effect,” Robb said. “They’re also talking about making a statewide catastrophic pool.”
Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski reported on ballots that were distributed by the H-GAC Elections Committee regarding an initiative to allow members of the board to place items on the agenda for H-GAC meetings. Listen (2:26)
“Bylaws may be amended by a three-quarters affirmative majority vote of the board of directors,” Bilski said, reporting that 27 votes would be required to meet that majority and only 25 members cast proper ballots in favor, so the issue failed.
The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution in memory of Nina O’Quinn, a longtime member of the H-GAC staff, who died recently. Listen (2:25)
All other agenda items were approved unanimously. Agenda
Brazoria County Commissioner Stacy Adams, Chambers County Commissioner Gary Nelson, Colorado County Judge Ty Prause, Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, Liberty County Commissioner Charlotte Warner, Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, Commissioner B.J. Gaines, Jr., Waller County Commissioner Frank Pokluda, Baytown
Council Member Brandon Capetillo, Conroe Council Member Seth Gibson, Deer Park Council Member Thane Harrison, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Huntsville Mayor Mac Woodward, La Porte Council Member Chuck Engelken, Jr. and Iowa Colony Council Member Kay Mudd were absent and not represented by alternate members. Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath was represented by Commissioner Chris King.
The meeting ended abruptly when a fire alarm on an upper floor of the building at 3555 Timmons Lane prompted officials to temporarily evacuate the building.