FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2016
A monthly column from Sen. Robert Nichols
With summer officially upon us and as you enjoy the sunshine, don't forget to enjoy a piece of pecan pie, which is the State Pie of Texas. July 12th is National Pecan Pie Day, so it's a great day to indulge.
Here are five things happening around your state this month:
1. Sunset Commission
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recently held its first hearing of the interim. The Commission ensures state agencies are meeting their mission and purpose by making recommendations for which state agencies should be continued, how they can operate more efficiently and better serve the public.
The hearing focused on the state's Pharmacy Board, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Boards, the Dental Board, the State Bar of Texas and various river authorities across the state. Final decisions for these entities will be made in August, but no recommendations can be put into law without final approval by the Legislature.
Before next session, the Commission will oversee various medical licensing boards, the Railroad Commission of Texas as well as the Texas Department of Transportation. I will keep you updated on the progress of these hearings, but also encourage you to become a part of the process by attending a hearing or sending in comments by visiting www.sunset.texas.gov.
2. Preserving History
After legislation was passed in 2011, the State of Texas took control of the Alamo, with the management of the site going to the Texas General Land Office (GLO) early last year. Previously it was managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) who originally acquired the funding to preserve the Alamo and who created an archival library which has been on the Alamo grounds since 1950.
After the GLO took over management, the DRT sued the GLO, stating that they were unlawfully holding the contents in the library, which they believed belonged to the DRT. This month, both groups came to a settlement with the GLO dropping ownership claims of the library collection.
The collection, which contains over 30,000 books, photographs and artifacts, will now be moved to the Texas A&M San Antonio campus. If you are ever in San Antonio, I would encourage you to visit both the Alamo and the library collection as both serve as great reminders of our Texas history and where we have come from.
3. Come and Get It!
Did you know one in four Texans have unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, utility refunds and more? Banks and other entities make an effort to reunite this money with its owners, but if they cannot after a certain period, state law mandates the assets be turned over to the Comptroller’s office. The Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Division works diligently to give Texas citizens back what is truly theirs. Currently, approximately $4 billion in property has not been claimed by Texans.
You can go to the Comptroller's website at http://www.cpa.state.tx.us/up/ and type in your name or the names of family and friends to see if you or someone you know has money waiting to be claimed. You can also call toll free at 1-800-654-FIND (3463).
4. Texas and Foreign Law
At the end of last year, Representative Dan Flynn asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for an opinion regarding the application of foreign law in a number of family law circumstances, including arranged marriages. Attorney General Paxton responded stating that Texas law clearly states that a court abuses its discretion if they enforce foreign law which contradicts Texas laws or the state constitution. Be assured that I have and will continue to fight to ensure this strict prohibition stays in place.
While AG opinions are not legally binding and do not decide the law, they often predict how a court would rule on a matter. To look at this (Opinion No. KP-0094) or other AG opinions you can visit www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
5. July 4th
As a child, I was always fascinated with fireworks. I worked my way through college by setting up stands and selling fireworks. To this day I am still fascinated with them and they are one of my favorite ways to mark a holiday.
John Adams once said the Fourth of July should be "solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other." Whether you take one of John Adams' suggestions or do something different, I hope you celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends as I know mine will be.