AUSTIN - Texans now can register an inventory of their personal property, report property that has been stolen or check whether an item they are attempting to buy has been reported as stolen.
Trace.com, a subsidiary of MyThings Inc., is collaborating with the Texas Police Chiefs Association, the Texas Department of Public Safety and more than 500 local Texas police departments and sheriff's offices to make Texas stolen property files available to the public at www.trace.com.
The Trace online database includes all identifiable property reported stolen to the FBI by Texas law enforcement agencies. Texans can access the Trace database, free of charge, to:
• Research items before purchasing them to determine whether or not they are stolen.
• Report recently stolen property to law enforcement.
• Create a secure, anonymous inventory of their valuable property that could aid in recovering the property if it is ever stolen.
Windstorm coverage rates to rise
Mike Geeslin, Texas Insurance commissioner, OK'd windstorm insurance rate increases of 8.2 percent for residential and 5.4 percent for commercial properties, effective Feb. 1, 2008.
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association had requested a 10 percent increase for both in a filing made this past August.
Geeslin said the increase is part of a strategy to improve the financial health of the windstorm association.
Parks agency touts upgrades
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department says "Christmas came early this year" to dozens of state parks throughout Texas, thanks to lawmakers and voters who voted for more funding for parks.
Already, the agency said, many of the more than 200 new state park employee positions have been filled, repairs of long-neglected facilities have begun or will soon begin, and days and hours of park operations are being extended.
And, because of the increased funding, park visitors will not only notice better maintained park facilities, but also will benefit from more interpretive programming, reopened camp grounds and trails, and better customer service.
The 80th Texas Legislature passed legislation to provide $25.6 million for park operations and the hiring of park staff during the 2008-09 biennium.
Lawmakers also appropriated $52 million in bonding authority to fund state park repairs, sending the measure to voters for approval. In the Nov. 6 election voters approved Prop. 4, allocating $25 million to dry-berth the Battleship Texas to ensure its long-term preservation and another $27 million for infrastructure repairs throughout the eight state park regions.
Court emergency plan in works
The Texas Supreme Court appointed a task force to begin design and implementation of an emergency program to prevent or manage disrupted court operations throughout the state in emergencies.
The 16-member "Task Force to Ensure Judicial Readiness in Times of Emergency" will identify existing gaps in court security, abilities to operate and other preparedness functions and response policies, procedures, and programs within the Texas judiciary.
The task force will develop an interim plan to fill gaps it identifies in the beginning, then design an emergency management program, oversee it and work with court officials and others outside the judicial system to install it.
"Normal court operations may be at risk during an emergency," Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson said. "Our courts must be able to quickly deploy personnel, equipment, vital records and technological support so that the rule of law is preserved and substantial rights are protected."
Denise Davis of Austin, special counsel with the Baker Botts law firm and former parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives, will chair the task force. The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.