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House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Addresses Urban Water Council

By Judy Sheahan
April 12, 2004

Congressional Majority Leader Tom DeLay (TX) spoke at the plenary luncheon at the regional Urban Water Council meeting hosted by Sugar Land Mayor Dave Wallace on March 26. DeLay praised Wallace saying, "Wallace is finding a new way of doing things." He also praised other mayors for "thinking outside the box while saving taxpayer money and growing the economy."

DeLay discussed focusing the attention of Congress on three major issue areas including security, economic development and family. "We are paying too much attention to the here and now and not looking to the horizon to see where we need to go," DeLay said.

Although DeLay admitted that he has focused most of his attention to road and highway infrastructure and didn't know of all of the issues surrounding the topic of water, he acknowledged that the federal government was "too big and slow to play catch up to local governments" in dealing with this issue. "I know you are dealing with sewer and water infrastructure," DeLay said, "and I want the Conference of Mayors to come together and tell me what you need the federal government to do to assist you with this problem which may very well include telling us to get out of your way."

Rich Anderson, who serves as Senior Advisor to the Urban Water Council, told DeLay that one of the Conference's and Urban Water Council's priorities was to seek legislation that would eliminate the state volume cap for Private Activity Bonds for water and wastewater projects. The estimated cost to Treasury is $147 million but the estimated return is at least $6 billion in private sector investment in wastewater infrastructure alone. DeLay indicated that although the legislation was a good idea, the issue of Davis Bacon had to be addressed first.

Waco Mayor Linda Ethridge pointed out that although the amount of regulations and their associated costs were oftentimes a burden to local governments, she asked DeLay to consider that there were sometimes insufficient regulations in other places.

DeLay said, "If you can build it faster, cheaper, and safely and still keep the environment in mind, let us know what you need. We need to bring common sense to an over bloated system."