AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry was out of state a few days last week campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in efforts to become the Republican Party’s nominee in the 2012 presidential race. He has until the March primaries to make his case to GOP voters, so he will be on the road a lot.
When Perry goes out of the state, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst serves as acting governor. If Dewhurst crosses the state line, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Jackson of Pasadena would perform the duties of the lieutenant governor. Dewhurst has filed for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by the Hon. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is completing her third six-year term and not seeking re-election. Jackson also has announced his candidacy for Texas’ newly created 36th U.S. Congressional District.
No matter where Perry, Dewhurst or Jackson hang their hats, the business of Texas moves right along.
Texas retailers, on the weekend before the Aug. 22 start of the new school year, enjoyed a spike in business thanks to the widely promoted annual sales tax holiday, Aug. 19-21. School supplies, school backpacks and most children’s and adults’ clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 were sold without state or local sales tax attached. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs predicted shoppers making purchases over those days would save about $62 million.
And while Texans were in stores for something other than what was being sold tax-free, like computers, many found out about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s TexasRecyclesComputers.org website that provides consumers with free options to recycle their computers.
All the shopping last week, which normally indicates a robust economy, was tempered however by news that unemployment in the Lone Star State had increased from 8.2 percent in June to 8.4 percent in July.
The 8.4 percent represents Texas’ highest jobless rate since 1987. Still, Texas added 29,300 jobs during the month, making July the 10th consecutive month that Texas experienced job growth. The national unemployment rate for the month was 9.1 percent, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.
Propane study is requested
State Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, on Aug. 17 announced he has asked House Speaker Joe Straus to order interim study on the need to regulate community propane systems.
“In an area where natural gas is unavailable, some developers have chosen to install underground propane piping installed from a single, large propane tank to service each property in the development,” Workman explained in a news release. “Because of the setup, consumers have no choice but to receive fuel from the community tank and pay whatever rate the propane company charges since there is no rate regulation of the industry,” he stated.
Such a study, if ordered, would be conducted by the nine-member House Energy Resources Committee chaired by Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland.
ACT math score goes up
Statewide, the class of 2011 averaged 21.5 out of a possible score of 36 in math on the ACT college entrance exam, the Texas Education Agency announced Aug. 17.
This was the first class to follow a high school graduation plan requiring four years of math, English, science and social studies and earn a total of 26 course credits to qualify for graduation.
The 21.5 — a 0.7 point increase since 2007 — is considered a phenomenal increase in scores, and is higher than the national score of 21.1. In comparison, the national average math score increased 0.1 points over the same time period, the state education agency pointed out.
New laws take effect Sept. 1
Some 673 new state laws or revisions to current laws are scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1. These represent the work of the 2011 Texas Legislature, which adjourned May 30 after a 140-day regular session and was called back by the governor for a 30-day special session to pass the state budget and a short list of other issues.
Anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can find the list of House and Senate bills that will take effect as new laws by visiting www.legis.state.tx.us, clicking on “Reports” then clicking on “General Reports” then selecting “82(R) - 2011” for the Legislature, and finally clicking on “Bills Effective on September 1st”. Or, instead of all that clicking, just go to this shortened address: http://tinyurl.com/3jvkm3r to read the list of new laws.