MAY CAPITOL UPDATE
News from the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser
Dear Fellow Texan--
For most of us, Memorial Day has long signaled a welcome end to the school year. However, Memorial Day has more meaning than just marking this transition from spring to summer.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day - which began with the practice of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers of the Civil War. In 1868, the organization of Union Veterans officially designated May 30 as a day for "strewing with flowers . . . the graves of those comrades who died in defense of their country." That year, the day was first observed with the placing of flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
After World War I, the scope of Memorial Day was broadened to include Americans who had died fighting in any war. Today Memorial Day is observed across the country on the last Monday in May - a date set by the National Holiday Act passed by the US Congress in 1971.
Please take this time to remember those brave men and women who have died in defense of our country and thank those who are currently serving to keep us safe.
- Tourism is one of the leading industries in Texas. The Texas travel industry is coordinating Texas Tourism Week this May 10-18. The events and activities across the state will help celebrate the state's travel industry and its economic impact on the state and local economies. Texas remains among the top three most visited states in the US bringing in approximately $54 billion in direct travel spending in 2006. I encourage each of you to get out and explore Texas - you can find information on traveling in Texas at www.travel.state.tx.us.
- If you have an appliance purchase in your future, you might considering waiting until Memorial Day weekend. Over that three day period, certain energy-efficient products will be sold without the state sales tax being charged. Eligible products must qualify under the Energy Star program and there are no limits on the number of items that may be purchased during this sales tax holiday. You can see the list of products that qualify at www.energystar.gov.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have proposed adding nine more conditions to the list of incidents it will no longer pay hospitals the additional cost to treat if they are acquired during an inpatient stay. This proposal is an attempt to reduce the financial and human costs of medical errors - - in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that hospital acquired infections added nearly $5 billion to hospital costs. A number of health plans have joined the effort to improve the quality of care at our nation's hospitals by refusing to pay or letting their patients be billed for medical errors.
IN THE DISTRICT
- Five-year old Summer Martin of Abilene recently was named a finalist in this year's "Treasures of the Texas Coast" 2008 Children's Art Contest. Summer is a kindergartner at Ortiz Elementary School. There were more than 5,800 entries received with 40 finalists chosen. The Texas General Land Office sponsors the program which encourages young artists to learn about the natural resources found along the Texas coast and help spread the message that "Trashing Texas Beaches Isn't Cool." Visit the Adopt-a-Beach website at www.texasadoptabeach.org to view the winning artwork.
- The 37th Annual Kerrville Folk Festival will be held May 22-June 8. More than 100 performers will grace the stages during the festival - there will be camping, concerts, songwriting competitions and workshops, arts and crafts, food, and more. For more information, visit www.kerrvillefolkfestival.com.
- Ride 10, 20, 40 or 100 miles on the western edge of the Hill Country in Kimble and Menard Counties in the Annual Tour de Forts Bicycle Run. Beginning in Junction, the route will circle through Menard and Fort McKavett and then back to Junction. For more information on the May 16-18 event, go to www.cthrr.org/biketour.htm.
- Design it, Build it, Race it. Hook & Anchor Marine along with the Marine Corps League is holding a raft race contest May 17, 2008 on Lake Brownwood at Hook & Anchor Marine all day, there will be prizes, food, and fun for all ages. More information on the 1st Annual Marine Corps League Hook & Anchor Raft Race can be found at www.hookandanchormarine.com.
The Senate Committees on Business & Commerce and Natural Resources met on April 15 to discuss generation and transmission in the Texas electricity market and how those sources impact air emissions. The committee heard testimony on the three components of resource adequacy - new generation, consumer tools, and transmission and market design. While state agencies focus on how energy can be produced more efficiently, they also are encouraging consumers to take control of consumption to use less electricity.
The Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations met in San Antonio on April 1 to study veteran reintegration issues, to study enhanced services that could be offered to veterans, and to assess the implementation of SB 1058. Before the hearing, committee members visited the Brooke Army Medical Center to tour the wounded warriors center to observe the rehabilitation and reintegration process. The committee focused on reintegration issues to include post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse problems, and domestic violence.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources met on April 8 to hear testimony regarding river authorities. The focus of the meeting was whether any state entity should have oversight of river authorities and how much oversight is necessary. According to expert testimony, each river authority in the state was created by special legislation and very few are exactly alike. River authorities control a great deal of surface water in the state and play an important role in meeting our water needs.
The Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations met on April 10 to hear testimony regarding several of the committee's interim charges. First, the committee discussed the provision of fire and emergency medical services through emergency service districts. One reason given for the increase in these districts was that in urban areas, few people are volunteering to provide emergency services, while demand and funding needs are increasing. The committee also discussed the process for the creation of a municipal or special utility district to determine if standard statute language should be adopted.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance with a state agency or wish to voice an opinion on any matter before the Texas Legislature. I always appreciate hearing from you and I hope to see you soon.
|HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR TROY FRASER|
|Austin Capitol Office
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
FAX: (512) 475-3732
|Marble Falls District Office
607 B Highway 281 North
Marble Falls, Texas 78654
FAX: (830) 693-9603
|Abilene District Office
500 Chestnut Street, Suite 810
Abilene, Texas 79602
FAX: (325) 676-8060
|Belton District Office
1920 North Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
FAX: (254) 939-7611