My five cents...
A monthly column from Sen. Robert Nichols
by Sen. Robert Nichols, Senate District 3
Christmas has been a favorite holiday of mine since I was a young boy. Of course, I was lucky because I grew up in a toy factory where my father, Talley Nichols, manufactured toy cap guns. As you gather with friends and family during this Christmas season, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
1. Increases in Voter Turnout for SD 3
Senate District 3 saw an increase in voters of almost 50 percent, compared to 2011, during the constitutional amendment election on November 5th. All nine of the proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, including addressing our state's water needs and improving property tax exemptions for veterans and their families were approved. It is interesting to note that while there was an increase in voters this year, out of the almost 500,000 registered voters in Senate District 3 only about 30,000 voted in this election. Your next chance to vote will be next year during the March 4th primary. Voting is an opportunity for the people of Texas to take part in our political system, and I encourage you to get out and vote.
2. Senate Natural Resources Committee Hearing
The Senate Natural Resources Committee held a meeting at the end of November to discuss the balance needed between the availability of electricity and the continuously rising population of our state. The panel included Public Utility Commissioners, varying associations, consumers and larger companies, all of which have an invested interest. As the need for electricity rises we must have the proper infrastructure in place to ensure reliable electricity is available for not only the present, but also for our future generations.
3. Merry Christmas to All
As Christmas approaches, I am reminded and thankful of the opportunity I had to sponsor the 'Merry Christmas' bill, which was passed by the Legislature during the 83rd session. This bill protects the ability of students, administrators, and teachers in Texas public schools to use traditional holiday greetings such as 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Hanukkah' on school grounds and to educate students about the history and roots of such holidays without fear of legal action.
My office recently learned that individuals in other states are now taking steps to implement the same policy in their state. This is a step forward in ensuring our traditional values and beliefs are being defended in not only our great state, but in states across America. If you would like more information on this bill and how it affects your school district, or to support these efforts you can visit www.merrychristmastexas.com.
4. National Adoption Month
November was National Adoption Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to help raise awareness for the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted. Cities across Texas have celebrated through their own adoption days in hopes of bringing attention to the approximately 6,500 children in our state who are waiting to be adopted into loving families.
In 2011, I co-authored Senate Bill 257 which authorized the creation of a 'Choose Life' specialty license plate. A large part of the proceeds from the sale of these plates is deposited in a "Choose Life" account in the general revenue fund. The Office of Attorney General administers these funds to varying projects to promote adoption across the state. At the end of the Fiscal Year 2013, Texas drivers had purchased almost 2,300 of these license plates, contributing approximately $52,500 to the 'Choose Life' account and the promotion of adoption in Texas.
Through these efforts, I hope to see more children adopted and given loving homes. For more information on adoption you can visit www.adoptchildren.org.
5. Capitol Christmas Ornament
In 1996, Nelda Laney, the wife of then Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, realized that the Texas Capitol needed its own unique ornament after she was given a White House ornament to put on the House of Representatives Christmas tree. An annual tradition was started with the creation of an ornament inspired by the various features of the Texas Capitol and grounds. The ornament is sold at the Texas Capitol gift store and the proceeds of the ornament sales support ongoing Capitol conservation and maintenance programs as well as towards educating the public about the building, its contents, and the historic Capitol grounds. The 2013 ornament is a replica of the skylights in the Texas Senate and House chambers at the Capitol. For more information about the ornament and to buy your own you can visit www.texascapitolgiftshop.com.