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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Mansion restored in multi-year effort
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 • Posted July 27, 2012

AUSTIN — The Texas Governor’s Mansion is fully restored, Gov. and Mrs. Rick Perry announced last week. According to a July 18 governor’s office news release, the restoration was made possible by a $21.5 million appropriation by the Texas Legislature and a private fundraising effort led by first lady Anita Perry that raised more than $3.5 million from thousands of Texans. Restoration included a new roof, repairs to the exterior masonry, restoration of columns and porches, renovations to the kitchen and installation of a “geoexchange” system to provide energy efficient heating and cooling. Private funds were used to pay for an addition to the west side, restoration of historical features, improved accessibility and the completion of landscaping and historical documentation, the governor’s office stated. On June 8, 2008, the front porch of the 156-year-old structure was fire bombed. Flames spread, causing catastrophic damages. Authorities still are hunting for a suspect who was caught on camera throwing a Molotov cocktail at the mansion.

Time to get ‘Water Smart’

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on July 19, along with state and local leaders, asked Texans to conserve more water by following the Texas Water Smart program. Recent rains may have eased some immediate drought concerns, but as the state’s population continues to grow, conservation is key to ensuring Texans have sufficient water for decades to come, Staples said. Texas Water Smart is a public-private coalition that encourages households and businesses to adopt everyday habits to curb wasteful water usage. The state water plan dictates nearly 25 percent of our future water needs will be met through water conservation. For more information, visit www.TexasWaterSmart.com.

State of drought continues

Gov. Perry on July 13 renewed the current drought disaster proclamation for another month. The effects of last year’s historic drought continue to plague Texas residents and businesses. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 77 percent of the state is still suffering from some degree of drought and 96 percent of the state is considered abnormally dry, the Texas Department of Agriculture noted.

Run-off voting begins

Primary run-off elections are July 31. Early voting began July 23 and runs through July 27. Early voters may vote at any polling place in their county of residence. Voters who participated in the May 29 primary elections must vote in the same party’s run-off election. Voters who did not cast a ballot in the primary elections may vote in either party’s run-off election, Secretary of State Hope Andrade said. A valid voter registration card without additional photo identification as required in Senate Bill 14 will not be required in Early Voting or on Election Day Also, Andrade, the state’s chief elections officer, announced July 17 that Texas has been named one of 15 states recognized as an all-star “for promoting and protecting the voting rights of America’s military service members and their families, especially through legislative efforts to streamline the federal ballot application process.”The recognitions were made by the Military Voter Protection Project, an organization that tracks each state’s: (a) use of electronic and web-based services to send election materials; (b) legislative efforts to eliminate barriers to military voter participation; and (c) record of making sure absentee military ballots are sent out no later than 45 days before the election and efforts to resolve violations In other news, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and a former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who are vying to become the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat to be open on the retirement of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison engaged in a televised debate July 17 and are scheduled for a third and final debate on July 23. Also competing in a run-off race for their party’s nomination are Democrats Paul Sadler of Henderson Grady Yarbrough of Tyler. Sadler is a former state representative and Yarbrough is a retired educator.

June jobs report arrives

The Texas economy added 12,900 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in June and has added 282,000 private sector jobs since last year, the Texas Workforce Commission announced June 20. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.0 percent in June, slightly higher than the 6.9 percent reported for May, but down from 8.1 percent a year ago.

Study gives Texas firsts

The 2012 Top States for Business study conducted by CNBC ranked Texas first overall and showed Texas first among the states in the infrastructure and transportation categories for the second year in a row, the Texas Department of Transportation announced last week.

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