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September 12, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Committee Works on Design of the New Texas Quarter Dollar Coin

AUSTIN - The Texas Quarter Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee held their first hearing today, September 12, 2000, at the State Capitol. Senate Bill 100, 76th Legislature, Regular Session, authorized the Texas governor to create this committee, which will assist in the design of the new coin commemorating Texas. Each of the fifty states has or will have its commemorative quarter coin, thanks to a 10-year initiative (1999-2008) allowed by Public Law 105-124. The program is supported by the U.S. Mint at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The quarters are minted in the order states entered the union, with Texas eligible to introduce its coin in 2004. The design can include state landmarks, landscapes, historical buildings, symbols of state resources or industries, state flora and fauna, state icons or outlines of the state. State flags and seals are not considered suitable for designs, and neither are busts or portraits of any living or deceased individual. The state designs are displayed on the reverse (tails) of the quarters, while their obverse (heads) display the image of George Washington. State designs are submitted and selected in a process determined by the governor of each state. The U.S. Mint reviews the design for coinability before each governor selects a final design.

James Hines, Assistant General Counsel of the Office of the Governor, provided the only invited testimony. He explained to committee members their rights and responsibilities based on the Open Meetings Act, the Open Records Act, and the Public Information Act.

Most of today's meeting was an interchange of ideas about how to set guidelines for the selection process. Proposals ranged from having a totally open process, inviting all members of the public to participate, to entrusting the design to a few advertising agencies and artists.

The committee members said that while the first option would be very fair, it could mean a deluge of designs from many people and that the committee simply does not have the manpower to administer such a huge contest. The second option could be seen as exclusionary, since the 15 members of the committee would be the ones choosing the designers and themes. Another option that received ample support was to develop a web site, where the public could vote for the theme or idea the coin design should be about; a few artists and ad agencies would then create designs based on the chosen theme.

Some members referred to their previous experiences, like the selection of the successful slogan "Don't Mess with Texas" for the campaign against littering. That slogan was proposed by an ad agency. The committee members agreed it was so successful because of its emotional content, conveying Texas pride and independence, something that they would like to duplicate.

Three subcommittees were created today: one in charge of guidelines and criteria for the selection process, one to act as a liaison with the corporation or agency that could create a web site and find sponsors, and the third one to set a calendar and schedule for the committee work. The Mint must have the designs by June 2002.

The members of the committee are: Robert A. Estrada, a business leader from Dallas, serving as chair; Senator John Carona of Dallas, Representative Bob Hunter of Abilene; John Paul Batiste from the Texas Commission on the Arts in Austin; F. Lawerence Oaks from the Texas Historical Commission in Austin; T. R. Fehrenbach, an historian from San Antonio; Peter C. Marzio, Director of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; Gary Hill from the Texas Numismatist Society in Dallas; J. Don Clark of Sherman, former Director of Texas Department of Transportation Travel and Tourism - Don't Mess With Texas Campaign; Dealey Decherd Herndon of Austin, former Director of Capitol Restoration; Jocelyn Levi Straus, philanthropist from San Antonio; Paula C. Day, civic leader from Ft. Worth; Lionel Sosa, marketing executive from San Antonio; Bob Snead, artist from El Paso; and David M. Weeks, media expert and amateur historian from Austin.

After setting the next meeting for October 23 at a place to be determined, the committee recessed.

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