Story from The Daily Sentinel. Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010 2:00 am | Updated: 10:46 pm, Thu Jul 15, 2010.
By Erin McKeon, Sentinel staff
Texas Senator Robert Nichols can now add Natural Resources Committee to the growing list of committees on which he serves.
An appointment by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has fulfilled a wish Nichols has had since before he was sworn into office, he said.
"It deals with the environment you live in, obviously, but water's probably one of the biggest issues related to natural resources, and the state water plan is extremely important," Nichols said. "East Texas is one of the areas that has an abundance of water, and there are a lot of the areas of the state that have huge shortages of water."
The challenge is to preserve the water we need in East Texas and then balance that with helping future generations, he said.
The Natural Resources Committee reviews any bills members file related to water and water rights or any other natural resource issues, such as unwanted vegetation in lakes and streams, he said.
The committee is comprised of 11 members, with every senator representing East Texas serving on it, Nichols said.
"Eight or nine of those members are rural, which is amazing since 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas," he said. "The lieutenant governor certainly recognizes that the water out there is in these rural areas of the state and wants to make sure the people who represent those areas are on the committee. Rural members, in this situation, have a very large voice."
In addition, Nichols serves on the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee, the Nominations Committee and is vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. He is also appointed to serve on the Sunset Advisory Commission.
Each the committees he's on receive his full and undivided attention, he said.
"I'm at a point in my life where I've basically retired from business, I've sold my business, and my kids are all grown up, and my wife thinks it's great I work on the state stuff," he said. "I have a lot of time to dedicate to this."
In January, there will be some changes because of the November elections, so Nichols might not serve on all those committees throughout his term, he said.
"I am grateful to the lieutenant governor for the committee assignments," he said. "The committee process is probably the most significant area to be in to have the opportunity to shape legislation as it evolves. You can stop bad things, you can create good things. It's not that you cannot do it if you're not on the committee, it's just that it's that much easier if you are."
Erin McKeon's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.