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December 14, 2011     Hays Free Press
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December 14, 2011
 

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Hays Free Press December 14, 2011 Page 5A + O Ongoing disagreements over the legality of 2010 Census- based redistricting maps i drawn byTexas lawmakers earlier this year continued last week. The H.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 9 issued a stay of the filing period for candidates in the 2012 state Senate, state House of Representatives and the U.S. House of Representatives elections. The stay extends the Dec. 15 filing deadline, pending further order of the court. On ]an. 9, the high court will hear oral arguments from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is acting on behalf of the State of Texas, and the other interested parties in three redistricting lawsuits. Abbott asked for the intervention to prevent a set of maps redrawn by a San Antonio-based, three-judge U.S. District Court panel from taking effect. During the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature, a number of Democratic lawmakers warned that the state House and Senate maps and the U.S. Congressional maps would not satisfy the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965, a federal law that holds states with a history of racial discrimination to additional scrutiny. On votes reflecting Republican majorities in the state House and Senate, the maps were passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry in mid-Iune. In the summer, after re- quired preclearance of the maps un- der the Voting Rights Act was denied by the H.S. Department of Justice, a series of federal court pleadings and appeals was set in motion. Voters generally want the fairest set of maps possible, and the court wrangling is meant to address those interests. Meanwhile, the anlount of time is shrinking during which vot- ers can learn about candidates and make informed choices before the party primaries. PANEL TO STUDY EMPLOYMENT ISSUES Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who pre- sides over the state Senate, on Dec. 7 issued interim charges to the body's Economic Development Committee. The committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Jackson, R-Pasadena, is charged with evaluating the state's CAPITAL return-to-work programs for the unemployed, evaluating the financ- ing mechanism for the Unemploy- ment Compensation Trust Fund, and reviewing the implementation of SB 1048, legislation relating to the fos- tering of public-private partnerships for qualified public infrastructure projects costing up to $50 million. FORBES: TEXAS TOPS ON JOBS The governor's office reacted on Dec. 7 to Forbes magazine's rating of Texas as the "Best State for lobs" in a five-year forecast. "Texas' tax climate, pro-business climate and economic development incentives were noted as reasons to relocate or expand a business in the Lone Star State," the governor's office noted. SALES TAX REVENUE UP AGAIN Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced Dec. 7 that state sales tax revenue in November was $2.07 billion, up 12.2 percent compared to November 2010, and that state sales tax revenue has now increased for 20 consecutive months. For the sake of comparison, here is a list of comptroller-issued state sales tax revenue estimates for five previous Novembers: 2010, $1.84 bil- lion; 2009, $1.70 billion; 2008, $1.98 billion; 2007, $1.80 billion; and 2006, $1.73 billion. 10 PROCESSING CENTERS TO CLOSE Postmaster General Patrick Dono- hoe in a Dec. 5 news release said 252 U.S. Postal Service mail processing centers will be closed as part of a $3 billion-by-2015 cost-cutting plan to keep the Postal Service in business. Next-day service is a thing of the past, and postal customers should expect the closures to result in mail pieces taking a minimum of two days to reach their destination, Donohoe said in a PBS-TV interview last week. The processing center closures may take effect beginning in March. Increased mailing costs are part of the picture. The cost of a first- class stamp is slated to increase by a penny on ]an. 22. PARKS BUDGET NEEDS BOOST Burn bans and state park closures due to wildfires, record heat and drought have resulted in less traffic and less revenue at the state-run recreation venues. So, Texas Parks & W~fldlife has a $4.6 million budget deficit to fill. The agency's director, Carter Smith, is encouraging citizens to visit state parks as well as appealing to the public to make online dona- tions at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/help- parks and adding a few dollars as a donation when renewing a motor vehicle registration. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. edsterling@texaspress.com 0 r"~e holidays are upon us. It's ~ realize what the season is about. The ~~ gifts we give should represent the feel- | time we think their meanings. .... LE~PRS ings we have for friends and family. JL I sayholidays because at this time of year, all three majorWestem It is this shared affection that makes religions have a holiday. The season the season one of togetherness. If we in America is more associated with accept that premise, then the hustle Chrisfiani~ but we must remember and bustle of Christmas shopping our brothers and sisters in the Jewish ~~ ~ would also take on a new meaning. and Islamic faiths as well.Yes, they We would begin to buy the gift that remember ours. Most cites and towns have some sort of celebration that begins the season. My town is no different. We have the big Holiday Parade replete with marching bands, tractors with lights, and Mr. and Mrs. Clatm tiding on the biggest fire truckin the city. The town folk come out in great num- bers and the culminating activity for the evening is the lighting ofthe town square's tree. There are carols to be sung and good cheer abounds. The following night is the holiday stroll, wth merchants open late and commemomfive mugs sold, this year to raise funds for an organization. Once a mug was purchased, it was refilled with cocoa as often as wanted, flee of charge. It made for a festve evening. Some folks get angry or at least upset that we refer to the event as the Holiday Stroll and Holiday Parade. But, they are missing an opporttmity to celebrate at least half of what this season has come to mean. Christmas, Yuletide, NativiW, Advent and other terms indicate the religious side of this season, but it is more than just religion. The season has also become a time of families and neighborhoods coming together. Who can forget the words of the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas?" That song has brought a tear to many a service man or woman serving their countryin a far off state or overseas. It brings out all the trap- pings of the season and reminds us of loved ones who we will miss. The holidays are also a time of giv- ing. Americans have probably taken the spending for gifts to obscene heights, but we believe in giving. We can change our giving habits if we just carries the tree message of giving. The greatest part of the season is that we are more openin showing our love for each other. While we might not tell someone we care for them dearly, our gifts show our love. In manyways, we tend to hide our feelings of love and caring for others but often this season brings all of that out of us. Yes, this is a joyous season for secular activities. We can show love and generosity that may just continue throughout the year. While some may say that there seems to be little about the religious or sacred, aren't the feelings oflove and caring the real meaning of the season? Isn't showing love and caring the real wayto bring joyto the world? Aren't we all better for having done so? jdlinden~sabcrr.com Amid recent market volatility, we've seen substantial upswings and downturns. But when the market reacts one way, it doesn't mean you should, too. The actions you take today can significantly impact your financial future. So before you alter your investment strategy, schedule a financial review. We can help you stay focused despite the market's recent disappointments and find opportunities for the long term. Call today to schedule your financial review. Janet Ross Financial Advisor 251 N FM 1626 Bldg 2 Ste B Buda, TX 78610 : 512-312-2840 Shirley C Malone Financial Advisor 203 Railroad Street Suite 1 B Buda, TX 78610 512-312-2332 www,edwardjones.com Member SlPC Edward]ones MAKING SENSE OF INVESTING