June Newsline: Florida receives Recovery Act funds, court cancels 300 NLRB decisions, Texas Water faces tough decisions

June 2009 Vol. 64 No. 6

The board is supposed to have five members but it had three vacancies because Democrats who controlled Congress objected to President George W. Bush’s labor policies and refused to confirm his nominees.
With two appeals court decisions at odds, the Supreme Court is more likely weigh in on appeal.

Texas Water Development Board makes tough decisions

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is in the process of reviewing approximately 1,000 applications for the state’s $340 million in economic stimulus funds for drinking water and sewer projects. The TWDB is focusing on shovel ready projects that make an immediate impact on the economy.

Over the next 60-90 days, the staff of the TWDB will be ranking the applications and making their recommendations to the board for approval. The projects are classified into two different categories -- drinking water availability and sewage or infrastructure.

A law that makes the decisions more difficult is that 20 percent of the funded projects must be “green”, really impacting the environment or creating more water efficiency. Some of the cities and municipalities are going to have to look elsewhere for funding.

Florida lawmakers secure state’s energy future

Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) has unveiled a proposal that would lift the state’s current ban on oil and gas exploration and production in the state waters off Florida’s coast - a move economists say could be worth at least $1.6 billion a year in state revenues and create more than 19,000 jobs.

The measure amended to CS/CS/HB 1219, which was approved by the Policy Council of the Florida House of Representatives, would not immediately trigger energy exploration in state waters. Instead, it would empower the Governor and Cabinet to consider a process for reviewing, approving or rejecting proposals for exploration and production of oil and gas in Florida’s state waters.

With Florida’s coast harboring anywhere from 3 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil, approved oil and gas leases could generate billions of dollars in new annual revenues - without raising new taxes.

As Florida has made nearly $7 billion in budget cuts since 2007, Texas has collected nearly $7 billion in annual oil and gas revenues - revenues that fund significant portions of the state's public K-12 and state university budgets.