As the holiday season is upon us, this edition is my last Email Update for 2010. I, along with my colleagues, am preparing for the upcoming legislative session that will convene January 11, 2011. This session promises to be challenging in many ways starting with the anticipated record-setting budget shortfall. Our Texas economy has fared better than most of the nation for the last several years, but we are not without the recession's impact. Passage of the budget, the only business that the Legislature is required to accomplish each and every session, will surely override all other issues and our focus should appropriately be there.
If the budget is one bookend of this session, the other bookend is redistricting. Each decade we are required to redraw the maps of our congressional, state house, senate and board of education districts. The session will be well underway before we get the final 2010 U.S. Census details needed for use in making these decisions. This task is also known for bringing out the worst in partisan behavior which could impact all other business before the Legislature.
Starting with this edition, I will be changing my format and schedule for sending out these Email Updates. Instead of the monthly format you are familiar with, I will be preparing mid-January, mid-March and end-of-session editions that will focus on major issues and their associated bills along with their progress. However, this December edition includes "What's New," "Did You Know" and "Student Opportunities" for your information.
Through the interim, I have continued to hear from you about the numerous and varied issues of interest to you. Your input has been invaluable as I consider legislative measures to carry and bills put forth by my colleagues. I will be counting on you to continue communicating your views to me as the 82nd Session of the Texas Legislature progresses.
As my family celebrates Christmas, I wish for you all the blessings of the holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
State Senator - District 16
WHAT'S NEW . . .
• Comptroller Susan Combs has announced a new Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program to begin on December 20. Approximately $10 million will be available for this program on a first-come, first-served basis. To find a list of qualifying appliances and rebate amounts, visit www.texaspowerfulsmart.org.
• The Texas Department of Insurance has issued a news release, Avoid Home Damage from Frozen Pipes, in preparation for colder weather. Tips include ways to prepare for a freeze and what to do if your pipes do freeze.
• The Texas Windstorm Insurance Legislative Oversight Board, which I co-chair with Representative Larry Phillips, is scheduled to meet on Monday, December 13 at 9:00 am in the Capitol Extension, Room E1.016. The Board will discuss the adequacy of insurance rates, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and coverage availability.
• At a recent meeting of the Legislative Budget Board, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus called for an additional 2-3% cut to state agency budgets for the current biennium. These cuts are in addition to the 5% reduction for the current biennium and 10% reduction for the upcoming biennium that have already been requested of state agencies.
• The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that Texas drivers can now order their driving records online and print them out immediately instead of waiting to have the record mailed to them. "Previously, drivers could order their driver record online but had to wait to receive their record via the U.S. Postal Service. Now, drivers can place their order using a credit card and their actual driver license, and then print out their record, which is available in a certified version suitable for submitting to a court for permission to take defensive driving." To order a driver record online or access other online services, please visit www.texas.gov.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
• The Texas Veterans Land Board has published the Fall 2010 edition of the Texas Veterans Voice. This issue of the publication features news on a new home for veterans in Tyler, the ground-breaking ceremony for a veterans' cemetery in Corpus Christi and other information on veterans' benefits.
• The Texas Department of Agriculture has published its annual Go Texan Holiday Gift Guide, which features a wide variety of Texas-made products to fulfill your list this holiday season.
STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES . . .
• During the upcoming legislative session, which begins January 11, the staff of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, which I chair, will offer high school and university students who live in District 16 the opportunity to shadow staff for a day. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Austin, TX 78711
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Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
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Dallas, TX 75205