Senator Carona's Email Update
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EMAIL UPDATE

February 20, 2004

What's new . . .

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced interim charges for the Senate's standing and select committees. The committees will be making legislative proposals in response to the charges. Interim charges range from the study of identity theft to making recommendations on increasing the supply of qualified teachers and improving their working conditions. There is a December 1, 2004, submission deadline for most of the committee reports and recommendations. You can access more information on these interim charges at: www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/Commit.htm.

I have been appointed to the Sunset Advisory Commission by the Lieutenant Governor. "Sunset" is the regular assessment by the Texas Legislature of the continuing need for a state agency to exist and works by setting a date on which an agency will be abolished unless legislation is passed to continue its functions. The Sunset process is guided by a 12-member commission of legislators and public members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House. This biennium, the Sunset Advisory Commission will review 30 agencies including the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the State Board of Medical Examiners, and the Public Utility Commission. More information on the Sunset Advisory Commission is available at www.sunset.state.tx.us.

While there is still no word from the Governor on a date for the expected spring special session, the Select Joint Committee on Public School Finance is charged with making its report on March 15. Governor Perry's proposed performance incentives for public schools, as well as several alternative revenue sources for school funding have been in the news. In anticipation of a special session, legislators continue to work behind the scenes on developing a consensus for a new school finance system.

Focus . . .

The term, e-waste or electronic waste, has been buzzing in the media for quite some time now. For those of you that are not familiar with the term, e-waste refers to the disposal of electronic equipment such as computers, cell phones, pagers, and televisions. At this point, neither the federal or state government has an effective solution for dealing with the disposal of electronic waste.

During the past two decades, advances in technology have led to a dramatic increase in our reliance on electronic products. Televisions, computers, wireless phones, copiers, fax machines, telephones, and VCR's are just some of the electronic devices that have become a major part of our everyday lives. A recent study estimates that over 20 million personal computers became obsolete in the United States in 1998. Between 1997 and 2007, nearly 500 million personal computers will become obsolete, representing almost two computers for each person in the United States. (National Recycling Coalition)

With technology changing so rapidly, computers are updated every two to three years. Unfortunately, the majority of the computer equipment ends up in our landfills. An estimated 1.5 million computers are discarded in Texas annually with about 162,000 recycled, leaving more than 1.3 million units to be stored or disposed of in landfills.

There are some recycling options available. When purchasing a new computer, make sure to ask the sales representative what recycling options they offer. Most computer manufacturers offer a recycle service for used computers. Also, most Goodwill Industries' locations accept used computer equipment and donate or sell them if the computer is in working condition; otherwise, Goodwill will recycle the equipment. For organizations that have a need to recycle multiple computers, recycling services are also available. To locate the closest computer recycling service go to: www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/exec/sbea/recycling/electronics/RecyclersAndNonProfs.pdf.

Please remember to delete any private information on the hard drive before donating, reselling, or recycling computers. There are different approaches one can take to erase a hard drive. If you are not knowledgeable about the procedure, you may want to consider buying a software program that will erase your hard drive. Our research indicates that the cost of these software programs ranges from $25 to $100. For additional general information regarding electronic waste visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's website at: www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/exec/sbea/recycling/electronics/

Did you know . . .?

The Handbook of Texas Online is the largest collection of Texas history on a single website. The handbook is a thesaurus full of fun facts about the Lone Star State. Originally written in 1957, new additions and articles continue to be added. The Handbook now comprises over 23,000 articles and facts on people, places, events, historical themes, institutions, and a host of other topic categories. You can also utilize the search option for any Texas trivia or questions you may have. The link to the website is www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online.

I hope that you are finding the Email Update to be informative, useful and/or interesting. If you have a subject or area of interest that you would like to see covered in a future issue, please let me know what it is so that it can be researched. I will always appreciate hearing from you.

John Carona
State Senator - District 16
www.carona.senate.state.tx.us

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