WHAT'S NEW . . .
On November 10, the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, which I chair, met at The University of Texas at El Paso for a public hearing. The members heard testimony from several agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation, which testified that there will be no state funds available for adding capacity to the highway system by 2012. This funding shortfall is a critical issue that we must address in the next session. Additionally, several prominent El Paso officials testified about the current status of border security and ways to fight transnational gangs and make Texas safer. The committee will meet again on February 1, 2010, and I intend to focus this hearing on transportation finance issues.
On November 19, Speaker Joe Straus made public the interim charges for the House of Representatives. We expect Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst will announce interim charges for the Senate shortly.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples recently launched a statewide campaign called "Texans Bring It!" which is built on the "3E's of Healthy Living," Education, Exercise and Eating Right. This initiative encourages young Texans to bring something healthy into their lives, such as education, exercise, more fruits and vegetables and overall healthier eating habits. The campaign is designed to help youth stay healthy and curb Texas' growing obesity problem.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus recently named members of the Legislature to the Sunset Advisory Commission. The Sunset Advisory Commission periodically reviews state agencies in order to identify and eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency. The Commission held its first meeting of the 2009-2010 interim on Tuesday, November 17. You can view a schedule of agencies being reviewed here.
On December 9, 2009, Vikki Martin, Executive Director Emeritus of the Ferguson Road Initiative (FRI) and resident of Senate District 16, will be presented the One Star Foundation's Governor's Volunteer Award as a Community Motivator. The Ferguson Road Initiative is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the restoration of the people and neighborhoods in the far East Dallas area known as White Rock Hills. The FRI has seen many successes as the result of the people and organizations that have come together because of Vikki's motivation to achieve a better community. Recently, neighborhoods in the Casa View area of East Dallas have voted to join the FRI's community outreach. Congratulations to Vikki and to all of those who continue working to turn the FRI vision into reality!
FOCUS . . .
The Texas Veterans Commission is our state's greatest resource for veterans. In 1927, the Texas Legislature authorized a Veterans' State Service Officer to aid returning war veterans in preparing claims against the United States or a state for compensation, hospitalization, insurance or other benefits. Over time, this office has grown into what is now the Texas Veterans Commission. Its mission is much the same, "to provide superior service through agency programs of claims assistance, employment services and education that will significantly improve the quality of life of Texas veterans and their families."
The Commission is led by five members who are appointed by the governor. The members are responsible for selecting an Executive Director, setting the agency's mission, as well as participating in development of the Commission's Strategic Plan.
The Texas Veterans Commission is the designated agency of the state to represent veterans before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Commission represents veterans in filing VA disability claims and appeals, as well as assisting dependents in claiming survivor benefits. To find more information on filing a claim or finding a claims counselor, please click here. The Commission also has Veterans Employment Representatives who provide workforce services to veterans. In nearly 75 cities around Texas these representatives offer their services to veterans looking for jobs. To learn more about the employment services offered through the Commission, please click here.
Additionally, many veterans and their family members may qualify for an educational benefit. The Commission can offer assistance to help veterans utilize state and federal educational programs and benefits. To find a representative of the Commission in the Dallas area, you can search through a directory of Veterans County Service Officers here.
A new program to benefit veterans is the Veterans Cash scratch-off lottery ticket which is now available to the public. This program was enacted in 2009 with passage of Senate Bill 1655. The proceeds from this ticket will benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans' Assistance (FVA) administered by the Texas Veterans' Commission.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
You can shop for Texas gifts this holiday season using the Holiday Gift Guide prepared by the Texas Department of Agriculture. This guide features all-Texas gifts with the GO TEXAN brand. GO TEXAN promotes the products, culture and communities that call Texas home.
You can find local information on holiday light displays, festivals and trails in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at http://www.town-mall.net/community/dfwchristmaslights.html.
IN CLOSING . . .
As this year comes to an end, I will enjoy the closeness of family and friends as we celebrate the holidays. I hope that you will find joy and peace this season.
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