With temperatures regularly soaring over 120 degrees in the summer, Death Valley National Park recently had to urge visitors not to crack and fry eggs on their park sidewalks. While it hasn't been that hot in Austin, things have definitely been heating up both inside and outside the Capitol.
Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:
1. The dominoes begin to fall
On Monday Governor Perry announced that after 13 years in office, he will not be seeking re-election. With this announcement, the proverbial dominoes began to fall. His departure will open a possibility for other officeholders, or even newcomers, to run for his vacant seat.
It will also mean big changes for the legislature. The Texas Governor has the authority to set an agenda for each legislative session, veto any bills passed, call special sessions and more. No matter who becomes Texas' next governor, it will definitely be an adjustment for a state which has been under the same leadership since 2000.
2. And 16 hours later…
No doubt you have heard quite a bit lately about the proposed pro-life legislation in the Texas Legislature. However, we hit a milestone in the early hours of Tuesday morning when the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, of which I am a member, finished hearing public testimony on the issue after more than 16 hours. This is by far the longest such hearing we have had on that committee since I came into office in 2007.
During the course of those 16 hours we received exactly 3,861 comment cards from interested Texas citizens who were present. In addition, we heard verbal testimony from 357. This high level of public interest highlights just how impactful this emotional issue is for our society.
3. Come and get it!
Did you know that one in four Texans has unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, security deposits, utility refunds, insurance policies, safe-deposit boxes and more? Banks and other entities make an effort to reunite this money with its owners, but if they cannot after a one to five year period, state law mandates the assets be turned over to the Comptroller’s office. Then the Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Division works diligently to give Texas citizens back what is truly theirs. In 2012, the state returned more than $159 million to its owners.
To check and see if you might be one of the one in four people who has money waiting to be claimed, simply go to the comptroller's website at https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/up/Search.jsp and type in your name or the names of family and friends. If you do not have access to the internet, call toll free at 1-800-654-FIND (3463). What a great tool!