Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

April 1, 2013

Senator Nichols: My five cents

AUSTIN — After a busy week at the Capitol, I am "hopping" home to spend the Easter weekend with my family. I hope you are able to do the same.

Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:

1. TANF drug screening

On Tuesday the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which I am proud to serve on, unanimously passed a bill I coauthored to require every Texas Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicant, and minor parents if they are the head of their household, to submit to a drug screening test. Under SB 11, a positive drug test would ensure the recipient's benefits be taken away, but would protect their children's benefits. TANF is one of the few state governmental programs that gives cash to participants- as opposed to, for instance, groceries with food stamps or medical services with Medicaid.

2. Gold Reserves

Call it the gold rush of 2013. Under HB 3505 filed by Representative Giovanni Capriglione, the state's gold reserves currently held by the Federal Reserve in New York would be moved back to a vault in Texas. Specifically, the bill would create the Texas Bullion Depository, a secure bank to house the 6,643 gold bars, worth $1 billion, owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO).

Governor Rick Perry has gotten behind the idea, noting "If we own it, I will suggest to you that that's not someone else's determination whether we can take possession of it." Former Congressman Ron Paul joined in as well: "If you think gold is a hedge, or a protection, you always want it as close to the individual and the entity as possible. Texas is better served if it knows exactly where the gold is rather than depending on the security of the Federal Reserve."

I will be sure let you know how this bill "pans out."

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