Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Opinion

May 2, 2014

Don’t forget to remember those in the military this month for Memorial Day

JACKSONVILLE — On Memorial Day, our country will remember the military men and women who gave their lives serving our nation. I hope we all take time to give thanks for those who sacrificed everything for our nation so we might live free.

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. The President's Visit Austin

Almost 50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson looked into a television camera from the White House and announced to the nation "I am about to sign into law the Civil Right Acts of 1964." The passing of this bill outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It also ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and for facilities serving the general public.

The half-century anniversary of this laws passing was celebrated this past month when President Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter attended the Civil Rights Summit in Austin at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. By coming together and honoring LBJ's legacy, it is a reminder that as we look forward to the 84th Legislative Session, we must continue to work together to accomplish our goals for the state.  

2. IGR Committee Hearing

The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee, on which I serve, recently held a hearing to look at ways to improve debt transparency at the local level. Recommendations include requesting local governments' to publicly post their annual budgets and financial reports online. The committee also discussed the immediate and long-term fiscal impact bonds and other types of obligations issued by local governments have on current and future generations of taxpayers. As a former mayor, I understand the importance of transparency in local entities and I will continue my work in the Senate to ensure Texas remains one of the most transparent states in the nation.

3. A Welcome Home

A monument was recently dedicated at the Texas Capitol to honor the Texas soldiers who were killed or were unaccounted for during the Vietnam War. The 14-foot-tall memorial depicts an infantry patrol; a radio man watches the sky for an incoming helicopter, a medic delivers care to a wounded soldier, and an infantryman stands by in a protective pose. The sculpture is entombed with hand-embossed dog tags identifying each of the 3,417 Texans who died during the war. Engravings representing the various main branches of service deployed during the war are shown on panels at the base of the sculpture. I am proud that with the dedication of this memorial we can give these men a long-overdue 'welcome home' and recognize the sacrifices they made during such a controversial time.

4. Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday

Many Texans are familiar with the tax free holiday in August, but did you know there is a tax free holiday for energy efficient purchases? This Memorial Day weekend, Texans can get a break from state and local sales taxes when they purchase an energy efficient item for their home.

Qualifying products include:

Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less

Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less

Ceiling fans

Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs

Clothes washers

Dishwashers

Dehumidifiers

With the hot temperatures of summer approaching, it's the perfect time to take advantage of this sales tax holiday.

5. Armed Forces Scholarship

My office is now accepting applications for the Texas Armed Forces Scholarship Program, which encourages students to participate in Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs at local colleges.

To be eligible:  

Be on track to graduate high school in a Distinguished Achievement Program or International Baccalaureate program.

Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Rank in the top third of graduating class.

SAT score of 1590 or ACT score of 23.

To receive the scholarship:

Be appointed by a State Representative, State Senator, the Governor or Lieutenant Governor.

Submit an essay explaining why you believe military service is important and how you would fulfill the requirements of the scholarship

Enroll in an eligible Texas institution and an eligible ROTC program

Commit in writing to:

Remain in ROTC for four years.

Graduate within five years.

Enter Guard

service or accept a commission with the armed services  within six months of graduation from college.

If you live in Senate District 3, meet the criteria above and are interested in this scholarship, please send the required essay and proof of academic eligibility to robert.nichols@senate.state.tx.us. For questions please call my Jacksonville office at 903-589-3003. Applications must be received no later than June 30, 2014. For more information please visit www.hhloans.com.

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