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March 11, 2011 - Session Watch

Bipartisanship, hard work help advance two priority bills

By Sen. Carlos Uresti

Two of my top priority bills advanced in the legislative process this week. One of them will only affect people in the greater San Antonio area, while the other will apply statewide. But both are good examples of the Legislature's ability to solve problems in a bipartisan manner.

The approximately 330,000 customers of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District are a step closer to deciding the troubled utility's fate. The Senate Natural Resources Committee voted 10-0 for a bill that would give them a vote on whether to dissolve BexarMet.

Imagine paying more for your water than neighbors just a few blocks away or having to worry about the reliability and quality of your water supplies, and repeated headlines about mismanagement and negligence.

BexarMet customers don't need to imagine any of this. It's a situation they live with from day to day — well documented in an interim study by the BexarMet oversight committee that I co-chair.

The executive summary stated that, "after continuing to receive numerous letters, telephone calls, and hours of testimony from district officials, water policy experts, and concerned district customers, the committee finds that the board of directors is incapable of functioning as a policy-making body."

Our committee also concluded the governing board to be "dysfunctional to the extent that it is not capable of either fulfilling its responsibilities to its customers or rehabilitating itself to the extent that it can do so."

In the days ahead it is important that members of the Bexar County legislative delegation stick together and get this bill all the way through the process.

Another initiative that ranked high on my priority list — the Kristy Appleby bill — cleared the Senate Criminal Justice Committee this week by a unanimous vote.

Senate Bill 116 was spurred by the Feb. 10, 2009, death of 32-year-old Kristy Appleby, who was slain by the ex-wife of a man she had dated. Appleby had sought a protective order against the woman, but it was denied because they were not involved in a personal relationship.

Kristy's case exposed a dangerous loophole in the state's protective order law. This bill would allow third-party protective orders to be obtained by people who are not involved in an intimate relationship with each other — ensuring that anyone threatened by a broken or dysfunctional relationship will receive the full protection of the law.

While both of these bills still have a long road to travel through the legislative process, the hard work behind their development and their unanimous committee approval by members of both parties reflect the power of commitment and bipartisanship.

Even if you're not a customer of BexarMet or will never need a protective order, you should still take heart at the advancement of these bills. It shows that government — reviled by some as intrusive and burdensome — has a tremendous capacity to solve everyday problems, even those as fundamental as the quality and reliability of your water supply.

That's something to ponder over your next cup of coffee.

Visit Senator Uresti's News page and Calendar
to keep up to date with Senate District 19.

©2011 Carlos Uresti Campaign  •  A.M. Hernandez, Treasurer  •  P.O. Box 240431  •  San Antonio, Texas  •  78224
www.carlosuresti.com