AUSTIN — Now available for all with Internet access to read is the new “Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2010-2015.”
Gov. Rick Perry called his plan “a high-level road map to allow for adaptation to evolving situations in an ever-changing threat environment.”
Perry said the plan builds on what the state has done over the last five years, a period during which more than $230 million was committed to fund border security operations. Samples of the plan’s stated goals:
- Prevent terrorists and criminal enterprises from exploiting Texas’ international borders.
- Increase public awareness and report suspicious activities.
- Reduce vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters.
- Enhance safety of schools.
- Enhance security features in state driver’s licenses and identification cards to include the use of biometrics.
The Web address for the plan is:
Senators visit Louisiana prison
Two Texas state senators on May 16 checked into a maximum security Louisiana prison for a three-day stay.
Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, and committee member Dan Patrick, R-Houston, went to the storied Louisiana State Prison at Angola to observe a ministry program run by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary that has been credited with reforming inmates.
Warden Burl Cain invited Whitmire and Patrick as guests after he watched Patrick’s documentary film, “The Heart of Texas,” which carries a potentially live-changing message for inmates.
Sales tax break for appliances
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on May 14 announced the third annual Texas “Energy Star” Sales Tax Holiday to run May 29 – 31.
During the three-day sales tax holiday, Texas shoppers will not have to pay state and local sales tax on certain energy efficiency-rated products. “It’s a great opportunity for consumers to save at the register and at home, where they’ll see the benefits returned in energy savings on their utility bills,” Combs said.
The tax break applies to air conditioners priced less than $6,000, refrigerators priced less than $2,000, ceiling fans, incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, clothes washers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and programmable thermostats.
The tax break also applies to installation and delivery charges for the products on the list, Combs said.
Patterson: Coast clear for now
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on May 13 said the Deepwater Horizon oil spill slick was about 160 miles east of the Texas coast.
“Despite some media reports, Texas is not yet affected by this spill,” Patterson said. “We’re watching and waiting, but it’s just not time to go to general quarters. No news is good news.”
If any oil from the Deepwater Horizon makes it to the Texas coast, it will not be in the form of a thick sludge, it will be tarballs, Patterson said.
If any tarballs from the Deepwater Horizon make it to Texas shores, the Texas General Land Office will work with the U.S. Coast Guard and the oil rig operator BP to clean them up. “It’s not that big of a deal,” Patterson said.
Arizona a no-go for city of Austin
Austin City Council on May 13 unanimously adopted a resolution to curtail official business travel to Arizona to protest the state’s new law tightening immigration enforcement.
Before the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez said, “The reasons for introducing this measure are two-fold. First and foremost, we want to ensure that we are not exposing city employees to risk by sending them into an uncertain and potentially hostile environment in Arizona.
“Second, we want to send a loud and clear message to the State of Arizona that our community stands in vehement opposition to racial discrimination in any form.”
Metal detectors to be installed
The Texas Department of Public Safety on May 13 announced metal detectors soon will be installed at all Capitol entrances.
Capitol visitors will be screened for metallic items that could be used as weapons, the DPS said. Capitol staffers and state employees will be able to bypass the screening by presenting their official identification.