SENATE COMMITTEE ON NOMINATIONS 
                             Monday, February 14, 2005 
                           2:00 p.m. or upon adjournment 
                           Capitol Extension, Room E1.016 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.18, a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Nominations  
         was held on Monday, February 14, 2005, in the Capitol Extension,  
         Room E1.016, at Austin, Texas. 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Jon Lindsay                     none 
         Senator Bob Deuell 
         Senator Gonzalo Barrientos 
         Senator Kevin Eltife 
         Senator Mike Jackson 
         Senator Eddie Lucio 
         Senator Jane Nelson 
         The Chair called the meeting to order at 2:27 p.m. There being a  
         quorum present, the following business was transacted: 
         Chairman Lindsay moved adoption of the minutes from the previous  
         hearing; without objection, it was so ordered.   
         The following members arrived after the roll was called: Senator  
         Jackson at 2:28, Senator Nelson at 2:35 and Senator Lucio at  
         Chairman Lindsay introduced the following three nominees to the  
         Texas Racing Commission: 
         Gerald "Kent" Carter, D.V.M., Charles Lee Sowell, and Louis  
         Edward Sturns, then recognized Mr. Sturns for opening comments. 
         Sturns indicated he was a former district judge and appointee to  
         the Tarrant County Court of Appeals by former Governor Bill  
         Clements. He also served as a Bush appointee to the Texas Ethics  
         Commission and Trinity River Authority Board. 
         The Chair recognized Dr. Carter and Mr. Sowell for opening  
         remarks. Carter said he felt his experience as a veterinarian  
         was very useful on the commission. Sowell said his appointment  
         to the Texas Racing Commission was a great honor and he welcomed  
         the challenge. 
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Senator Nelson who apologized for  
         being late to the committee. Nelson said she had known Sturns  
         forever, that he was an army veteran and a deacon at his church  
         and she was grateful for his service. 
         Senator Nelson asked the nominees for comments on video lottery  
         terminals (V.L.T.s). Sowell began by  saying he did not know  
         exactly what effect V.L.T.s would have on horse and dog racing  
         in Texas, but recognized their absence could be a factor in the  
         inability of racing to grow in Texas. Carter, who had experience  
         in the thoroughbred business, said he was not opposed to V.L.T.s  
         but didn't know if they would produce an infusion of money. He  
         gave examples of California and Kentucky as two states where  
         horseracing is a thriving industry without V.L.T.s. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked the nominees about pari-mutuel clientele,  
         how it carried over to video lottery and what impact could  
         V.L.T.s have on socioeconomics of its clientele. 
         Sturns admitted not having horseracing experience but felt that  
         those with lower non-disposable incomes would be more likely to  
         look for a chance to get out of their situation; therefore  
         V.L.T.s would naturally have a greater impact on those from a  
         low socio-economic background. 
         The Chair recognized Senator Nelson who said although she was  
         strongly opposed to gambling, she represented the horse industry  
         and asked the nominees how to bring more horseraces to Texas. 
         Sowell replied the experts believe that the greater the purse,  
         the greater number of horses running, and running better horses  
         would attract more clientele. He mentioned the success of the  
         Breeder's Cup at Lone Star Park which attracted a large family  
         oriented crowd. 
         Senator Nelson asked if any of the three would take a public  
         position on V.L.T.s. Sowell felt it was appropriate to remain  
         neutral, Sturns favored supporting Texas law and Carter said it  
         was the commission's job to regulate and legislature's job to  
         The Chair recognized Senator Barrientos. Senator Barrientos  
         asked the nominees questions about the number of employees, the  
         budget and why they wanted the position. Sturns replied it was a  
         learning experience and an opportunity to serve. Carter wasn't  
         sure he did until he was asked by the Texas Veterinary  
         Association to serve on the commission- he said he would have no  
         personal gain but did feel he had the gut instincts to help the  
         horseracing industry succeed in Texas. Sowell spoke of the  
         thousands of people engaged in the horse industry in Texas and  
         it is important to play a part in the program. 
         Senator Barrientos asked why we don't have good purses here.  
         Sowell said there is not enough knowledge and gave a brief  
         history of "match" races, where people run horses, betting on  
         the outcome- winner take all. This system was in effect for many  
         generations where pari-mutuel betting was not legalized. He  
         mentioned a New Mexico quarterhorse futurity that manages to  
         build a large pot by keeping hundreds of people involved in the  
         process as an alternative to tracks being able to offer large  
         Senator Barrientos then asked the nominees if we did not have  
         pari-mutuel betting would they be in favor of it? Carter replied  
         he was for it if it provided a stimulus to the horse industry,  
         adding he has not seen any massive social decline attributed to  
         it. Senator Barrientos asked Sturns if the distance between  
         racetracks should be regulated. Sturns answered that the  
         marketplace should take care of it but public policy and  
         economic viability would also drive the answer. 
         Barrientos mentioned the hearing before the commission about the  
         Austin Jockey Club moving to Pflugerville. He asked Sowell about  
         his company Retama Management Co. and whether he was affiliated  
         with Retama Park. Sowell replied his company was named long  
         before the track existed. Senator Barrientos asked Senator Lucio  
         where the name retama originated; Senator Lucio said it was the  
         name of a south Texas tree. 
         Senator Barrientos questioned Carter about salaries. Carter  
         answered most state workers are underpaid. Senator Barrientos  
         asked about the use of steroids and doping of horses and dogs.  
         Carter replied that because of the heavy regulations and testing  
         involved, cheating was held to the bare minimum. Sowell answered  
         because there was such a race between drug companies not only to  
         create performance-enhancing drugs, but also to create drugs to  
         detect the enhancement  drugs, it has become very rare for  
         someone to cheat. 
         Senator Barrientos stressed the importance of the Governor's  
         office to allow the nominees to be better forewarned. 
         The Chair recognized Senator Lucio who stressed that the  
         commission's budget needs to be up to date and the nominees  
         should bring a true realistic budget to the table. 
         Senator Lucio asked about the direction we should go in  
         veterinary care and whether we have enough vets in Texas. Carter  
         replied there was still adequate need particularly in rural  
         areas and addressing large animal concerns. Senator Lucio asked  
         how the horses are affected and expressed concerns about whether  
         they were being well treated. Carter noted horses are highly  
         competitive animals who love to run while Sowell noted the  
         importance of remembering our state's agri-based heritage while  
         we rapidly become urbanized. 
         Senator Lucio stressed the importance of economic development in  
         rural areas through the Texas Enterprise Fund. He then asked  
         Sowell about his past employment with Enron; Sowell replied he  
         was an attorney on a team that McNair unloaded on Enron. (Sowell  
         is V.P. of McNair Group in Houston) spending most of his time in  
         New Jersey. He noted he left in February of 2000, before Enron  
         became the center of national attention. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked how many members are on the commission.  
         Answer -seven. The Chair then recognized Senator Jackson who  
         gave a summarized account of the meeting so far, adding that  
         Galveston would love V.L.T. facilities at their dog park and  
         asked why other gaming was not an issue. Sowell said the focus  
         was on V.L.T.s. Senator Jackson suggested he go check out other  
         gaming casinos such as the Alabama- Coushatta and suggested that  
         Kemah's boardwalk was perfectly set up for casino gambling.  
         The Chair recognized Senator Nelson to introduce William A.  
         Ledbetter, nominee to the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission  
         Chairman Lindsay asked Ledbetter about the problems at T.W.C.C.  
         Ledbetter responded saying the biggest problem was the inability  
         of employers to make a choice in a system of medical coverage  
         and importance of employee's ability to chose within the system.  
         Another problem mentioned is opting out. Chairman Lindsay asked  
         who opted out; Ledbetter answered the smaller businesses but  
         added some super large ones also opted out. 
         Senator Lucio asked Ledbetter for specific recommendations on  
         finances of T.W.C.C. to show they were on right track and asked  
         if Ledbetter had seen SB 400. Ledbetter had seen SB 5, had HB 7  
         and would study SB 400. 
         Chairmen Lindsay asked Ledbetter how large a role chiropractors  
         should play, Ledbetter said they have a place in injury  
         management but do serve as cost-drivers, 
         Senator Barrientos asked if Ledbetter could wave a magic wand  
         what would he request; his reply was that if every employer and  
         every employee would participate, the system would fix itself.  
         He stressed the importance of return to work for employees and  
         that employers should take care to retain workers. 
         The Chair asked what keeps employers from using the providers  
         who are the lowest in cost and perhaps the worst providers.  
         Ledbetter answered that the agency knows the good doctors. 
         Senator Lucio again expressed budget concerns to Ledbetter who  
         said he was working on it. 
         Vice-chairman Deuell brought up areas of concern over conflict  
         resolution and identifying who can advocate or arbitrate. 
         Senator Barrientos asked for a definition of a network, how they  
         are created and whether they can solicit business. Ledbetter  
         said in group health, insurance carriers set up network. 
         The Chair asked for a motion, Senator Jackson moved and Senator  
         Nelson seconded. At 3:35, the vote was 6 ayes, 0 nays to confirm  
         all the nominees. (Vice-chair Deuell voted aye upon returning to  
         committee at 4:09). By a final vote of 7ayes, no nays, Texas  
         Racing Commission nominees Carter, Sowell and Sturns and Texas  
         Workers' Compensation Commission nominee William A. Ledbetter  
         were passed through committee and sent to the full Senate for  
         Senator Barrientos asked that a member of the Texas Historical  
         Commission be invited to appear even though they were going to  
         be approved as non-appearing nominees. Barrientos also added  
         that the nominee for the State Cemetery Committee was a speaker  
         appointment, not the governor's. 
         Chairman Lindsay explained that the nominee for the 224th  
         Judicial District Judge Oscar Diaz was pulled from the list of  
         non-appearing to be voted upon because his information was not  
         A motion was made by Senator Barrientos and seconded by Senator  
         Nelson. At 4:13 p.m. by a vote of 7 ayes and 0 nays, all  
         non-appearing nominees from the following entities were passed  
         through committee and sent to the full Senate for confirmation:  
         the 57th Judicial District Court, the 417th Judicial District  
         Court, Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional  
         Counselors, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Military  
         Facilities Commission, Texas Optometry Board, Private Sector  
         Prison Oversight Authority, State Cemetery Committee,  
         Telecommunications Planning and Oversight Council, Texas  
         Veterans Commission, Veterans' Land Board and State Board of  
         Veterinary Medical Examiners. 
         There being no more business, at 4:17 p.m., Chairman Lindsay  
         announced the committee would stand in recess subject to the  
         call of the chair. 
         Senator Jon Lindsay, Chair                                         
         Jazen Wood, Clerk