What's New . . .
- On August 14, the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, which I chair, held a hearing at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas. During that time, we listened to public and invited testimony on the state of the telecommunications market, the availability of broadband across the state, existing discounts for schools and hospitals for telecommunications services, as well as fees that utilities charge for access to their rights-of-way.
- On September 12, the Joint Interim Committee to Study Seacoast Territory Insurance, a committee that I co-chair with Chairman John Smithee, met and had a wide-ranging discussion relating to insurance coverage of damage from hurricanes, including approaches that would strengthen building codes.
- Archived audio/video files for the hearings mentioned here, and for other Senate Committees, are available to you. RealPlayer "Basic" is required and a free download is available.
Focus . . .
There is news on the redistricting front. You may recall, from news media outlets and my previous Email Updates, that redistricting challenges have been proceeding on two tracks -- preclearance of the plans in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C. Court) and consideration of legal challenges to the plans, which were consolidated for trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (San Antonio Court).
On August 28, the long-awaited decision from the D.C. Court was issued. Unfortunately, the Court denied Texas preclearance of its 2011 legislatively enacted Congressional, Senate, and House of Representatives plans. Attorney General Greg Abbott has already appealed that decision to the United States Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court reverses the decision, the three plans will have passed the first hurdle in the redistricting process - preclearance. If the Supreme Court declines to take up the issue and reverse, it appears that new plans will be required to be drawn.
While the D.C. Court was considering preclearance of the plans, the trial in the San Antonio Court was conducted. The San Antonio Court waited to issue an opinion in the case until the preclearance process was concluded, and presumably will issue its opinion now. Going forward, the San Antonio Court could take one of several approaches, including drawing new plans to address the issues raised by the D.C. Court and any illegalities it may have found during the trial in San Antonio. The San Antonio Court could also decline to draw new plans and leave that task to the Legislature. Of course, any decision by the San Antonio Court will be subject to appeal.
Because decisions regarding the plans passed by the Legislature were delayed, interim plans were adopted by the San Antonio Court to be used in the upcoming November election. Although challenges have been made to the interim plans based on the preclearance decision, Texas' November 6 General Election is proceeding under the interim plans.
The bottom line is this -- there is still uncertainty regarding what our districts will look like after November 6. Moreover, depending on the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the San Antonio Court, the Legislature may be looking at redistricting again in the upcoming session.
Student Opportunities . . .
- Each year, NASA invites Texas high school juniors to apply to be a Texas High School Aerospace Scholar. This is a unique opportunity, especially for those students interested in exploring majors or careers related to a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum. The free program starts in the Fall of 2012 through an online community and culminates in Summer 2013 with a workshop at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
- Enrollment for the Texas Tuition Promise Fund opened September 1. This program gives parents the opportunity to prepay tuition for Texas colleges and universities at today's tuition rates. To learn more about the program and start the enrollment process, visit www.TexasTuitionPromiseFund.com.
Texas In The News . . .
- According to the International Trade Association, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex ranked ninth among U.S. metropolitan areas for total exports in 2011. DFW exports totaled $26.6 billion, an 18.2% increase from 2010. This helped to propel Texas to a rank of first nationally in merchandise exports. Read more about this report in the Dallas Morning News Biz Beat Blog.
In Closing . . .
You must be registered to vote by October 9 in order to be eligible to vote in the November 6 General Election. Visit www.dallascountyvotes.org for more voter registration and ballot information.
Stay cool and conserve energy when you can.
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