AUSTIN — State troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies across Texas will be looking for drivers and passengers who are not buckled up or whose children are not properly restrained, the Texas Department of Transportation warned last week.
During a two-week period from May 21 through June 3 (which includes Memorial Day weekend) the “Click It or Ticket” campaign will be enforced. Drivers pulled over will be subject to fines up to $250, not including court costs.
Texas law requires that both drivers and passengers wear seat belts. Children younger than 8 years old must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches, according to TxDOT.
“It only takes a minute to strap on your seat belt and to make sure that everyone else in your vehicle is properly restrained,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s Traffic Operations division director. “That one minute can save a life. We shouldn’t have to remind people to wear seat belts. But just in case, police officers around the state will be pulling over folks who still have not gotten the message.”
Traffic crashes remain a leading cause of death in Texas. In 2011, nearly 3,000 people died in fatal collisions on Texas streets and highways. Almost half of those drivers and passengers were not buckled up, according to TxDOT. Visit www.texasclickitorticket.com for more information.
Sales tax holiday on calendar
Shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on certain appliances under the state’s annual “Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday,” May 26 through May 28, which is also Memorial Day weekend.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on May 14 published a statement saying the sales tax break “applies to ENERGY STAR® qualified air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less; refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less; ceiling fans; fluorescent light bulbs; clothes washers; dishwashers; dehumidifiers; and programmable thermostats.”
Unemployment rate drops lower
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in April to 6.9 percent, down from 7.0 percent in March and from 8.0 percent a year ago, the Texas Workforce Commission reported last week.
According to statistics gathered and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate of was 8.1 percent in April.
“The Texas economy continues to add jobs, with 10 of 11 major industries growing over the past year,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar. “The continued growth across industries is positive and we encourage employers and job seekers to take advantage of the services offered through our 28 local workforce boards across the state.”
Texas’ unemployment rate has decreased for eight consecutive months.
Rep to leave for UT-Pan Am
Four-term District 41 State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, is resigning from the Texas House of Representatives and will start as vice president for university advancement at The University of Texas-Pan American, effective July 1.
Gonzales, a lawyer by trade and a steadfast advocate for transparency in state and local government, announced in 2011 that she would not seek re-election.
Democrat Robert “Bobby” Guerra of Mission is running to succeed Gonzales for the District 41 seat, the boundaries of which in Hidalgo County. Also, two Republican candidates have filed: Miriam Martinez of Edinburg and Armando Vera of McAllen.
Estimates include Texas data
A couple of years ago, the office of the state demographer described Texas as a “majority-minority” state, meaning in effect that the aggregate count of people who self-identify as Hispanic, Black, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander was greater than the count of people who self-identify as single-race white.
On May 17, the U.S. Census Bureau released a set of estimates that show Texas is one of four majority-minority states, the others being Hawaii, California and New Mexico, and of the four, Texas has the lowest percentage of minority residents, with 55.2 percent.
Also from set of census estimates is this information: More than 11 percent (348) of the nation’s 3,143 counties were majority-minority as of July 1, 2011, with nine of these counties achieving this status since April 1, 2010. Of those 348 counties, Maverick County, Texas, had the largest share - 96.8 percent - of its population in minority groups, followed by Webb County, Texas with 96.4 percent. Also noted was that of all counties in the U.S., Starr County, Texas, had the highest percentage of Hispanics: 95.6 percent. And, of all states, Texas showed the greatest numerical gain in Black or African-American population, with an increase of 84,000 individuals between 2010 and 2011.