SENATE COMMITTEE ON NOMINATIONS 
                               Monday, April 4, 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, April 4, 2005, in the Capitol Extension,  
         Room E1.016, at Austin, Texas. 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Jon Lindsay  
         Senator Bob Deuell 
         Senator Gonzalo Barrientos               
         Senator Kevin Eltife                                                                
         Senator Mike Jackson                                                              
         Senator Jane Nelson  
         Senator Eddie Lucio                                                   
         The chair called the meeting to order at 3:45 p.m. There being  
         no quorum present, the following business was transacted: 
         Senator Nelson moved adoption of the minutes from the previous  
         hearing held on March 21, 2005; without objection, it was so  
         The following members arrived after the roll was called:   
         Senator Bob Deuell, Senator Gonzalo Barrientos and Senator Eddie  
         Lucio, Jr. 
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Senator Kel Seliger who introduced  
         the Honorable Philip W. Johnson, nominee to the Texas Supreme  
         Court. Seliger mentioned Justice Johnson was the first graduate  
         of Texas Tech Law School to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.  
         Seliger yielded to Senator Robert Duncan who added to the  
         introduction. Duncan said he has been waiting quite a while for  
         Johnson to sit on the state's highest court because Johnson is a  
         thoughtful man who understands not only the policies of the law,  
         but also the balances that must exist between the legislative,  
         judicial and executive branches. 
         Senator Duncan also introduced Lubbock resident Nancy Neal, a  
         nominee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and one  
         of Duncan's constituents. Duncan told the committee that the  
         board will be impressed by Neal's service and creative thinking  
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Senator Eliot Shapleigh who  
         introduced Paul Foster, also nominated to the Texas Higher  
         Education Coordinating Board. Shapleigh said he has no  
         hesitation in his recommendation of Foster, owner of Western  
         Refinery and a leader in job recruitment for El Paso. 
         The chair recognized Senator Eltife who called it a big reward  
         to be able to introduce two of the nominees to the Coordinating  
         Board. George McWilliams of Texarkana and A. W. "Whit" Riter  
         from Tyler were offered tongue-in cheek condolences from Eltife,  
         a past board member. 
         Senator Lucio was recognized by the chair to introduce Robert  
         Shepard, a constituent from   Harlingen who was reappointed to  
         the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Lucio described  
         Shepard as a man who truly believes every child in Texas  
         deserves a chance at an institution of higher learning. 
         After the introductions were made, Chairman Lindsay recognized  
         the Honorable Philip Johnson who made a few remarks in  
         appreciation of the governor and his staff. He then set out his  
         beliefs about the judiciary- he called it a framework that works  
         when all of its parts work. Johnson outlined the legislative  
         branch's responsibilities- to draft proposals, debate those  
         proposals, add or subtract to or from those proposals, amend the  
         proposals and then enact some of them into law. The role of the  
         judiciary is not to add or to subtract or even add new  
         interpretation. These roles are expressed in the constitution. 
         The chair asked Johnson how he handled being put on the spot by  
         questions concerning his opinions. Johnson replied he always  
         answers that it is imperative to maintain impartiality or the  
         appearance of impartiality, for if a judge pre-commits, it is  
         not good for the system. 
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Senator Barrientos. Barrientos asked  
         Johnson for his comments on separation of church and state. My  
         view is that the First Amendment dealt with it best, said  
         Johnson. Barrientos queried Johnson on government using race as  
         a consideration in dealing with underrepresention of minorities.   
         Johnson said he will abide by the U. S. Supreme Court and uphold  
         the Constitution.  Barrientos asked for figures of ethnic  
         breakdown on staff. Johnson replied that out of 59 employees  
         including eight elected judges, four are African-American,  
         including two employees and two elected judges. Excluding  
         judges, none are Hispanics. Barrientos asked if Johnson thought  
         it was fair and equitable; Johnson's answer was that he hoped it  
         would be different. 
         No vote was taken on the nomination of Johnson. 
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Barrientos to introduce Laurens  
         Fish, nominee to the Texas Funeral Service Commission and a  
         fourth generation funeral director. Lindsay asked Fish to  
         describe his responsibilities- Fish said to license and regulate  
         over 1300 funeral homes and 4200 licensees, including  
         crematoriums and cemeteries. Lindsay asked Fish how to stop  
         fraudulent crematory situations like the one that recently  
         occurred in Georgia. Fish said we have better laws regarding  
         punishment of the individuals who attempt to defraud. Fish also  
         described the current licensing process and clarified the  
         funding process. 
         Chairman Lindsay recognized Vice-chair Bob Deuell who asked Fish  
         about changes in the crematory process. Fish stated that  
         jurisdiction was needed for provisions for cremains and  
         definition of disposition of the ashes. Deuell asked for Fish's  
         thoughts on consolidation and whether there were any problems  
         with the sale of businesses or transfer of ownership. 
         The chair recognized Barrientos who questioned Fish about number  
         of employees, number of licenses getting revoked and what  
         constitutes revocation. Fish informed the committee that all  
         revocations and suspensions are voted on by the commission.  
         Barrientos asked if Fish knew about a Sunset bill concerning the  
         commission, Fish answered he was not aware of it. Barrientos  
         asked about prices, sham packaging and possible discrimination  
         in the industry; Fish said every funeral home and licensee is  
         equal and should all be treated the same. Fish described the  
         process of obtaining death certificates, including who must file  
         and when this must occur. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked for a motion, Barrientos so moved. At  
         4:36, by a vote of 6 ayes to 0 nays, the committee recommended  
         favorably that the nomination of Laurens Fish be sent to the  
         full Senate for confirmation.  
         Chairman Lindsay asked the nominees to the Texas Higher  
         Education Coordinating Board to be seated at the panel and then  
         introduced nominee Laurie Bricker in place of Senator Ellis. Ms.  
         Bricker made some brief remarks about her background in  
         education and her enthusiasm for serving on the board. Chairman  
         Lindsay asked how many members were on the board. Shepard  
         answered that currently there are fifteen members and that by  
         the year 2007, the number will be stairstepped down from  
         eighteen to nine. 
         Barrientos was recognized by the chair to ask Neal what she  
         considered to be the mandate of the board. Neal said to  
         coordinate and direct the higher education needs of the state,  
         assuring access and keeping the quality of education outstanding  
         while maintaining monetary efficiency. 
         Barrientos quizzed Riter and McWilliams over budget and  
         employees figures. Shepard addressed a question regarding  
         salaries and outlined the statutory responsibilities involved  
         for the higher ed group, then asked for an increase in pay for  
         Barrientos mentioned his changes to Senator Carona's gift card  
         bill stipulating that a percentage of ensuing revenue to go to  
         higher education. He asked for comments from the board on the  
         top 10% law. McWilliams stated that he does not have an official  
         position. Foster stated that the law's impact on achieving  
         diversity has shown success only at Texas A & M and the  
         University of Texas and not much on the rest of the state's  
         institutions. Bricker said that by strengthening the curriculum  
         at all schools would make the top 10% law more effective.  
         Barrientos charged the board to be an impassioned advocate for  
         all young people. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked for a motion to vote on the members of  
         the coordinating board, Senator Eltife so moved. At 5:02 p.m.,  
         the committee voted by 7 ayes and 0 nays to recommend the  
         nominees to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to the  
         full Senate for confirmation. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked for a motion to vote on Justice Philip  
         Johnson's nomination to the Texas Supreme Court, Eltife so  
         moved. At 5:03 p.m. the committee voted by 7 ayes and 0 nays to  
         recommend Johnson for confirmation by the full Senate. 
         Chairman Lindsay asked for a motion to vote on all non-appearing  
         nominees and notified the committee that Cecilia Fierro, nominee  
         to the Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners, would be  
         left pending. Senator Eltife so moved. At 5:05p.m., the nominees  
         from the following entities were approved and sent to the full   
         Senate for confirmation: the Texas Board of Architectural  
         Examiners, the Governing Board for the Texas School for the  
         Blind and Visually Impaired, the Executive Council of Physical  
         Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners, the Texas Board of  
         Geoscientists, the Jefferson and Orange County Pilots Board, the  
         Lease Board for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the  
         Lower Neches Valley Authority Board of Directors, the Texas  
         State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Physical Therapy  
         Therapists, the TDCJ Advisory Committee on Offenders with  
         Medical and Mental Impairments, the Texas Board of Occupational  
         Therapy Examiners, the Public Counsel for the Office of Public  
         Insurance Counsel, the Sabine River Authority of Texas and the  
         Upper Neches Municipal Water Authority. The vote was 7 ayes to 0  
         There being no further business, at 5:06 p.m. Senator Lindsay  
         moved that the Committee stand recessed subject to the call of  
         the chair.  Without objection, it was so ordered.   
         Senator Jon Lindsay, Chair 
         Jazen Wood, Clerk