WHAT'S NEW . . .
• On September 20, the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, of which I am a member, will hold a joint hearing with the House Committee on Redistricting in Dallas. The hearing will begin at 12:00 pm at the George Allen Courthouse, Central Jury Room, 600 Commerce Street. To stay up-to-date on hearings, please visit the website for the Senate Committee on Redistricting. The purpose of these hearings is to take public testimony on what factors should be considered when the lines are redrawn after the 2010 Census for our Texas Congressional, State Representative, State Senate and State Board of Education seats. This meeting in Dallas will be the second of a series around the state and the first of two joint hearings with our House committee counterpart. The second joint hearing will be in Houston on November 20.
• Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) held a joint public meeting in July to discuss the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Cottonbelt Regional Rail Project, a proposed East/West connector between the DART Red Line and DFW Airport that is part of DART's 2030 Transit System Plan. To learn more about the meeting and this particular project, please visit http://www.dart.org/about/expansion/cottonbelt.asp.
• The University Interscholastic League (UIL) recently changed its rules to permit students of a magnet school that does not offer a certain activity to participate in that activity at their home attendance zone campus. To learn more about this change, including specific provisions, please click here.
• In our August 24 hearing, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee heard testimony from the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel. This office exists to give assistance to you, your family and your business as you are affected by residential and small commercial electric and telephone utilities. To visit their recently updated website, go to http://www.opc.state.tx.us/.
FOCUS . . .
On July 14, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced changes to Senate committee assignments. When appointing me as the new chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, Governor Dewhurst said, "Senator Carona is a very experienced and successful Texas businessman, and a logical choice to chair the Business and Commerce Committee. I'm confident in Senator Carona's ability to provide innovative solutions for the most pressing regulatory challenges facing our state, including finding new ways to create jobs and grow the Texas economy." I am honored by the Lieutenant Governor's confidence in me and excited about this new opportunity to lead this very important committee.
The Senate Committee on Business and Commerce is responsible for legislation and policy relating to all business and industries regulated by the State of Texas. This charge includes a number of sectors, such as utilities, banking and construction. The committee oversees such key state agencies as the Public Utility Commission, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance. These agencies are charged with facilitating basic services that matter to all of us – having jobs, keeping the lights on, seeing that the services we buy are safe and securing the future for ourselves and our families.
During this interim period between regular sessions of the Legislature, the committee is studying broad policy questions in the form of interim study charges from the Lieutenant Governor. There are eight specific charges for this committee, ranging from how we address ever-increasing demand for electricity to the state's role in alternative energy sources to workforce training programs to unemployment compensation insurance.
The Committee has held three hearings on these charges.
- On May 19, the committee studied municipally owned electric utilities, such as that of the City of Garland. These entities provide power to 4.1 million Texans, about 15% of the state's electric industry. According to testimony, this type of utility gets high ratings for customer satisfaction, reliability and creditworthy bond ratings, and were early adopters of renewable energy.
- On July 14, the committee learned that 62,000 Texans have exhausted their state and federal unemployment assistance, 90% of funding for the Texas Workforce Commission is from federal funds and child care programs and the Skills Development Fund training program may have to be cut if the state's budget picture does not improve.
- On August 24, the committee analyzed windstorm insurance and ways to address the increasing demand for electricity.
I am grateful to Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst for this new appointment and look forward to serving the citizens of Texas on the Business and Commerce Committee. You can keep current with my committee work and related issues by following me on Twitter.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
• The Texas Legislative Council has launched its Texas Redistricting website, which not only includes House and Senate redistricting committee information, but also includes materials such as maps, legal resources and an overview of the redistricting process. This site is available to enable the public to learn more about the process and view the various proposed maps that will be considered during the redistricting process.
STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES . . .
• NASA is once again looking for students for the High School Aerospace Scholars program. This free program is a great opportunity for students to explore their interests in aerospace science and technology by working with this program online throughout the school term and culminating in a one-week camp at the Johnson Space Center during the summer. To learn if your high school junior is eligible for this program and find an application, please visit the program website.
• The Texas Education Agency, in conjunction with the New York Times and Epsilen LLC, recently announced a new initiative called Project SHARE, which will allow students and teachers greater resources online. A new feature allows users of Project SHARE to link directly to Texas Education on iTunes U, where teachers will find resources on development materials and students will find support to help understand their coursework, as well as additional research information. Users of iTunes can see a demo of the Texas Education on iTunes U. Educators are currently being challenged to contribute content for sharing best strategies for teaching algebra readiness by uploading video or podcasts of lessons or student projects. For more information on this challenge or to be considered as a regular content provider for iTunes U, see the Texas Education on iTunes U.
• The American Opportunity Credit is available as a tax credit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help students pay for college. This credit is available to students and parents of students whose income level is $80,000 or less or $160,000 if married and is applicable for tax year 2010. The maximum annual credit is $2,500 per student.
IN CLOSING . . .
I hope that you and your family will have an enjoyable and safe time together over the Labor Day Holiday weekend.
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