AUSTIN --- Three Republican gubernatorial candidates will face each other in a live broadcast debate Jan. 14.
Two-term Gov. Rick Perry, three-term U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and former Wharton County Republican Party chair Debra Medina will engage in debate at the Murchison Performing Arts Center on the University of North Texas campus in Denton.
The broadcast will be distributed at no charge to all commercial and public radio and television stations statewide as a public service, courtesy of the Texas Association of Broadcasters.
AG's ruling clears way to pardon
Attorney General Greg Abbott on Jan. 7 ruled that the Texas Constitution authorizes the governor to grant a posthumous pardon, and allows the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that the governor grant a posthumous pardon.
On the day of the ruling Gov. Perry issued the following statement: “I’m pleased to learn that the attorney general’s ruling has opened the door to the ability to grant posthumous pardons. I have spoken with Tim Cole’s mother about this good news, which finally gives his family the opportunity to officially clear his name. I hope the Board of Pardons and Paroles will act swiftly in sending a recommendation to my desk so that justice can finally be served.”
In July, State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, asked Abbott for the attorney general opinion on behalf of Cole’s family.
Cole died in prison on Dec. 2, 1999, while serving a 25-year sentence for a rape he did not commit. DNA evidence proved Cole’s innocence. He was exonerated by a Texas court posthumously on Feb. 6, 2009.
Gov. Perry did not pardon the deceased man earlier, because, he said, he was prevented by the state constitution and a prior attorney general ruling.
Holocaust agency appointees named
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Jan. 6 announced appointees to the newly formed Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
“I am proud of the support in the House for the creation of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission,” Straus said in a news release. “The Commission will honor the memory of those lost as well as help guide organizations and educators as they teach the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides to the next generation.”
Created by an act of the Texas Legislature, the commission will assist public and private organizations and elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, in planning, coordinating and implementing Holocaust and genocide study courses and awareness programs.
In his announcement, Straus, R-San Antonio, said volunteers including Holocaust survivors or survivors of other genocides, liberators of concentration camps, scholars and members of the clergy will encourage educators to engage students in unique ways including hearing first-hand accounts.
Appointees include State Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston; Dr. Ian Hancock of Buda, an expert on Romani and genocide issues; Dr. Frank Kasman of Midland, a researcher and lecturer on the Holocaust destruction of Radin; Suzanne Ransleben of Corpus Christi, a teacher and creator of curriculum about the Holocaust; Stanley Rosenberg of San Antonio, a member of the San Antonio Holocaust Museum; and Chaja Verveer of Houston, who survived the Holocaust as a child.
Tax collections continue to slide
Comptroller Susan Combs announced Jan. 8 the state collected $1.65 billion in sales tax revenue in December, down 11.6 percent compared to December 2008.
She said sales tax collections, which began declining last February continued through December. Collections are down across most major sectors of the Texas economy, including oil and natural gas, construction, manufacturing and retail trade, Combs said.
But, she said with a hint of optimism, “It is expected the double-digit declines in tax collections seen over the last half-year will first moderate with collections returning to growth during the first or second quarter of 2010.”
Registration deadline approaches
Monday, Feb. 1 is the deadline to register to vote in the 2010 Primary Elections.
County offices, some post offices and libraries offer voter registration applications. Texas residents also may register online at: www.votexas.org.
For more voting information, call the Secretary of State’s voter hotline at 1-800-252-VOTE.