What's New . . .
The Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security held a hearing in Irving on August 12. Among the topics examined at the hearing was the tragic bus crash near Sherman. If you are a member of an organization considering hiring a bus and driver, you may check whether or not the business has the appropriate permits and inspections by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety website.
Last month, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved the construction of $4.9 billion in new transmission lines. This action will allow for the integration of an additional 18,456 megawatts of wind power into our existing electric grid. (One megawatt can power around 500 homes.) Although consumers will share in the cost of building this infrastructure, it is necessary if we are to meet the consumer's demand for renewable energy sources. Texas is the nation's leader in wind power and this commitment will cement our position as the nation's leader in renewable energy.
Legislative Appropriations Requests (LARs) are outlines of a state agency's or other state supported entity's requested budget for the upcoming biennium. LARs serve as a guide for the Legislature to use when writing the state budget by defining each agency's essential functions. You may view the LARs for the various agencies and entities on the LBB website.
Focus . . .
This month, I would like to provide you with information on the impact electronic waste has on the environment and how you can recycle such waste in an environmentally-friendly manner. Computers, televisions and other consumer electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the nation, but fewer than 13% of discarded electronics are recycled. Over 1,000 materials are used to make electronic products, including chlorinated solvents; brominated flame retardants; PVC; and heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. Currently, there are no laws in Texas banning consumer electronic waste from landfills. As a result, electronic waste is responsible for 40% of the lead and 70% of heavy metals in landfills. It is estimated that between 2007 and 2009 Texans will discard 50 million old televisions and computers.
The only safe way to dispose of electronics is to recycle them. When electronic waste is deposited in landfills, lead, mercury and other toxins can seep into our soil and water supply. When such waste is incinerated, toxins are released into the atmosphere and return to our water supply in the form of acid rain. However, proper recycling of electronic waste can mitigate these environmentally unfriendly outcomes. We don't have to wait for a law to require safe recycling. If you have electronic waste, you can visit www.ban.org for a list of environmentally-responsible recyclers. Most electronics manufacturers have developed recycling programs for their products. When purchasing new electronics (to replace old equipment), inquire with the retailer about the manufacturer's recycling program or check the manufacturer's website for that information.
In the June Email Update, I provided information about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approving rules relating to the recycling of used computers as required by HB 2714, which the Legislature passed in 2007. Pursuant to passage of HB 2714, beginning September 1, all computer makers will be required to offer free and convenient recycling for Texas consumers. Since each company will be responsible for determining how they are going to establish their recycling program, you will need to contact your computer's manufacturer for details. Although I appreciate TCEQ's work in developing the rules, I remain disappointed that the TCEQ Commissioners did not adequately address recyclers who export used computers to other countries by requiring those recyclers to abide by the laws of the recipient country. This may prove to be a loophole around the spirit of the law,
since some recyclers export electronics to foreign countries where they are improperly disposed of instead of recycled in an environmentally-sound manner.
In the upcoming session, I will continue working on the issues related to electronic waste and closing loopholes in the electronic recycling law.
Did You Know . . . ?
In my last Email Update, I provided information about fueleconomy.gov, a website with numerous tips on how to drive more efficiently. This month, I would like to inform you about www.tryparkingit.com, a website developed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments to help commuters find alternatives to driving alone. Since it was launched in 2006, North Texans have saved over 1 million miles by using alternatives to driving such as car pooling, bike riding and working from home. Participants in the program are also randomly awarded prizes, such as restaurant gift cards.
Student Opportunities . . .
The Texas Commission on the Arts is now accepting applications for its Young Masters Scholarship Program. The program provides art students in grades 8-12 financial assistance to pursue advanced study in visual art, literature, music, theatre and dance. It is important to note, however, that the program is not a college scholarship. Those selected will receive the title Young Master and a scholarship in the amount of $2,500, renewable up to three years. You may apply at the Texas Commission on the Arts website or call 512-936-6564. Applications must be postmarked by November 15, 2009.
In Closing . . .
Now that our schools are back in session, remember to watch for children and slow down in school zones. Also, some communities in our area have enacted local ordinances prohibiting the use of cell phones without hands-free devices in schools zones. Please be safe and obey the law.
State Senator - District 16
|P.O. Box 12068|
Austin, TX 78711
|8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
|5401 N. Central Expy.
Dallas, TX 75205