AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry on December 11 requested an extension of the registration deadline until January 10 for Hurricane Ike victims to apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA's current registration deadline for Ike victims ended December 12.
"Since Ike made landfall on our coast, families and communities have struggled to restore their lives," Gov. Perry said. "If granted, this extension will allow more families the assistance they need and deserve to rebuild their homes and lives."
Individual assistance is for individuals, families and small businesses with disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance, including:
• Temporary housing and rental assistance;
• Crisis counseling;
• Unemployment assistance;
• Legal services; and
• Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration for homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations.
To date, more than 700,000 households from the affected area have registered, and more than 150 residents have registered each day since December 1, Perry's office reported. Ike hit Texas in mid-September.
Beach debris removal begins
The Texas General Land Office has been preparing for Hurricane Ike beach debris removal by creating cleanup zones marked by 5-foot-tall metal posts. The top 12 inches of each post will be painted bright orange. Debris removal was set to begin after December 15.
Sharp to run for U.S. Senate
John Sharp, the former Texas comptroller, said December 10 he will run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.
The seat is currently held by Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has filed papers necessary to run for governor in 2010. Her six-year term of office as a U.S. senator will expire in 2012, but she could resign to run before then.
In his announcement, Sharp said, "I will be a candidate whether the election is in 2012 or any time before then."
Sharp, who received the highest percentage of votes statewide of any Democrat during the past decade, added, "Texans face tough challenges that call for innovative solutions, and that's what our campaign is all about."
Sharp said he is forgoing the step of forming an exploratory committee and will file the required papers on January 1 so that he can begin raising money and campaigning across the state in the new year.
As state comptroller from 1991-99, Sharp earned national recognition for initiating the Texas Performance Review, a governmental body auditing program that saved taxpayers billions of dollars.
Sharp previously served as a member of the Texas House, the Texas Senate and as chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.
In 2005, Sharp was appointed by Gov. Perry to serve as chair of the Texas Tax Reform Commission, a bi-partisan committee that produced a solution to fund public schools without the creation of a state income tax.
Sharp, 58, is currently a principal in the Austin office of Dallas-based Ryan & Company, a tax-consulting firm.
Governor supports new ID rules
Gov. Perry on December 9 spoke out regarding Department of Public Safety rule changes requiring non-U.S. citizens to present proof they are in this country legally before being issued an original, renewal or duplicate Texas driver's license or identification card.
"I strongly support the recent DPS rule changes that ensure public safety and national security, and am confident the vast majority of Texans feel the same way. ..."
Perry said the new policy is no different than what U.S. citizens must do to obtain a driver license in most Mexican states and Canadian provinces.
Troopers get in-car computers
A $15 million project to equip troopers across Texas with in-car computers is close to completion the Department of Public Safety, reports.
When the project is completed, nearly 2,000 highway patrol and commercial vehicle enforcement units will have in-car computers.
In-car computers give troopers a way to instantly identify wanted individuals and stolen vehicles. The secure network provides real-time alerts, digital photographs and homeland security information and GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.