Senator Robert Nichols – For The Record

Did you know in July of 1832, a band of settlers in Nacogdoches attacked the town’s Mexican garrison and took back the town in answer to an order requiring Texans to surrender their weapons? While not well known, the Battle of Nacogdoches, to some historians, not only freed East Texas from Mexican military rule, but also served as the starting point of the Texas Revolution and led to our great state becoming what it is today.

Here are five things happening around your state this month:

Police Protection

In response to recent tragedies of our state’s police officers losing their lives due to violence against them, Governor Abbott has requested the Legislature pass the Police Protection Act in the upcoming legislative session. This act would add the killing of a police officer under the hate crime statute and increase criminal penalties for any crimes where the victim is a police officer. The Governor has also requested funding for a public education program which would teach young Texans the role of police officers in our state, in hopes of teaching respect for law enforcement. I am grateful for the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day to ensure we are safe

Distributing Pre-K Funding

During the 84th Legislative Session, the Legislature approved House Bill 4 which established a grant program and set aside $130 million over the next two years for public school districts to improve the quality and accountability of the state’s pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs.

Distributions will be made in two installments to the school districts which qualified for the funding, approximately half of the state’s approximately 1,200 school districts. While each school determines the best use of the grant money, they do have to implement specific teacher training, meet new curriculum requirements and increase parental involvement in the program to ensure they continue to receive funding. I supported the passing of this legislation after talking to the school officials and those living within my district who were in support of improving our Pre-K programs. I look forward to seeing how this will positively affect children within Senate District 3.

Border Security Update

Recently, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steve McCraw, gave the Legislature an update on where DPS is in implementing the $800 million allocated during the 84th Legislative Session to provide resources and manpower to secure the Texas border. They have been tasked with placing 250 troopers permanently on the border and will reach that goal by this December. In addition to additional troopers, they have also added more aircraft, boats, cameras and other devices to ensure the troopers can be effective in their jobs. 

The agency is currently working to develop a plan to measure the progress of the implementation of this border security plan. As the Legislature continues to receive updates on where we are at in protecting our borders, I will make sure to update you in this column as well.

Tax Free Weekend

Mark your calendars for this year’s sales tax holiday, which will be August 5 – 7.  The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.   The law also allows layaway purchases of these items to qualify for the sales tax exemption.  All sellers in the state are required to honor the sales tax holiday, so it’s a great time to get prepared for the upcoming school year while saving some money in the process.

Exploring the Alamo

In April 2015, the General Land Office (GLO), the City of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment announced a cooperative agreement to come together to build a master plan for the Alamo Plaza. Archeologists are currently excavating around three historic buildings across from the Alamo, which were purchased by the GLO as a part of this agreement, to discover the boundaries of the Alamo compound

Recently, archeologists have discovered an adobe brick wall which dates back to the Spanish colonial era near one of these historic buildings. They believe this could have been part of the western wall of the original Alamo complex, or an interior wall of a home Native Americans inhabited outside of the Alamo. This is an exciting discovery as it could give a glimpse into the history and beginnings of our state. Learn more about this project at www.reimaginethealamo.org.