fromthetrail Archives - Robert Nichols for Senate

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Sen. Nichols Signed Letter Regarding High Speed Rail Project

October 9th, 2020 Posted by fromthetrail 0 thoughts on “Sen. Nichols Signed Letter Regarding High Speed Rail Project”

I was proud to sign on to this letter regarding the Texas Central Rail project. I am always working to preserve private property rights.

 

My Five Cents

September 28th, 2020 Posted by fromthetrail, Photography 0 thoughts on “My Five Cents”

This month Texans celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 26. Hunters and anglers alike are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors and continue Texas’ long tradition of hunting and fishing. This day was designated by Congress in 1971 to honor hunters and anglers for their commitment to conservation. Every year, this day is celebrated on the fourth Saturday in September. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging outdoorsmen to invite others along for their outdoor adventures. TPWD offers resources for those new to the sport and ready to venture into the field or the water for the first time.

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. Superintendents Tour

For the past several weeks, I’ve traveled the district meeting with school superintendents. There are over one hundred school districts in Senate District 3 and, before every legislative session, it is my intention to meet with as many superintendents as possible to get a local perspective on the needs of our schools. After meeting with all of the superintendents, I have a comprehensive list of policy issues and reforms to focus on during session. I appreciate all of our superintendents and teachers who are working so hard to keep schoolchildren safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Meeting with our superintendents gave me a better understanding of how schools are navigating these challenges. It’s my belief that education is and will always be the number one issue for the state legislature. The education of the next generation is one of our highest priorities and I will always treat it as such.

2. Texas unemployment rate drops for fifth consecutive month

The US Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate in Texas has fallen to 6.8 percent, making it five straight months of decline in unemployment. After the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March, the unemployment rate in Texas soared to 13.5%. As the economy and businesses have begun opening up again, more jobs have become available and Texans are going back to work. While unemployment rates are high compared to pre-pandemic levels, this is a sign our economy is getting back on track.

3. Texas Historical Commission makes decision on Alamo Cenotaph

In a 12-2 vote, the Texas Historical Commission denied the city of San Antonio’s request for a permit to relocate the Alamo Cenotaph. The plan, which is part of a larger renovation and re-imagining of the Alamo battleground, would have moved the Cenotaph from its current location at the northern end of the Alamo Plaza to a location several hundred feet south of where it currently resides. The Cenotaph was constructed in the 1930s and stands 56 feet high. Also known as “The Spirit of Sacrifice,” it features carved figures of Alamo defenders and the names of those who died at the Battle of the Alamo.

4. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awards park grants

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awarded $15.7 million in local park grants across the state. These grants will help fund projects that create and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities. Three cities in East Texas were recipients of grants – Buffalo, Center, and Sulphur Springs. Buffalo and Center each received $150,000 while Sulphur Springs received $750,000. Proposed developments include playgrounds, walking trails, picnic facilities, landscaping, and other recreational projects. The grants are allocated to local government entities and are sourced from state and federal funding. Once funded, all sites created or rehabilitated using the grants must be dedicated as parkland in perpetuity and be open to the public.

5. Texas Sunset Advisory Commission hearing

This month the Sunset Advisory Commission held a hearing in Austin to hear and review presentations on several state agencies. The task of the Sunset Advisory Commission is to look closely at the need for and performance of state agencies. They have the power to recommend abolishing state agencies. I served on the Sunset Advisory Commission for six years and, during that time, we eliminated 15 state agencies – saving the state millions annually. The sunset process is designed to continually examine government for efficacy and efficiency and have the opportunity to shrink government where possible. Roughly 130 entities are subject to sunset review on a rotating basis. Each agency is typically up for review every twelve years. This year nineteen agencies are under review. At their most recent hearing, the commission heard testimony about seven of those agencies. To see a list of all state agencies up for review this year and to read about the commission’s findings, visit www.sunset.texas.gov.

Sen. Nichols Co-Wrote Bipartisan Letter for Statewide Broadband Plan

September 14th, 2020 Posted by fromthetrail 0 thoughts on “Sen. Nichols Co-Wrote Bipartisan Letter for Statewide Broadband Plan”

I am proud to join a bipartisan group of almost 90 legislators in an effort to establish a statewide broadband plan. Accessibility to broadband is one of the biggest obstacles East Texans face and have faced for years. Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, it has become even more essential that the state takes proactive steps toward developing this critical infrastructure.

 

Here is a copy of that letter.

My Five Cents

August 28th, 2020 Posted by fromthetrail, Photography 0 thoughts on “My Five Cents”

By Robert Nichols

This August marked the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, which secured the adoption of the amendment. We celebrate this important centennial of women’s suffrage.

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. COVID-19 Data Tracker for Texas Public Schools, Child Care Centers

Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency and the Department of State Health Services announced that they will release information about COVID-19 cases in public schools on a weekly basis. Schools will be required to report any cases of COVID-19 in staff or students to the state within 24 hours. DSHS will begin releasing the data in September and that information will be available on their website.

Additionally, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will regularly post information about COVID-19 cases in child care centers, school age programs, and before and after-school programs across the state. A spreadsheet is available on their website to view this information. The data is broken down by child care center. It shows the current number of positive cases as well as how many cases each location has had since March. It’s updated Monday through Friday by 3 p.m.

2. TEA Back-to-School Guidance

The Texas Education Agency has released a detailed document of requirements and recommendations to Texas school districts on what school will look like in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Decisions about when to open schools and whether or not in-person classes will be offered have been largely left to school districts, but the guidance from TEA is meant to be statewide. It covers information regarding providing notice to parents and the public about on-campus activities, preventing the virus from entering schools, responding to a positive case, and mitigating the spread of the virus in schools. The document is available on the TEA website at www.tea.texas.gov.

3. Additional Federal Funding for Unemployment Benefits

The Texas Workforce Commission announced that Texans receiving unemployment benefits may receive an additional $300 per week after FEMA approved additional jobless relief funding to the state. The funds are backdated to Aug. 1, so those who qualify for the added benefit will receive the funds they would have gotten starting at the beginning of August. To qualify, applicants must indicate they lost work because of the coronavirus pandemic on their unemployment filing. Texans can change their status and report they lost their job due to the pandemic on future payment requests to begin receiving the extra $300. Texans receiving less than $100 per week in unemployment benefits do not qualify for the additional federal funds.

4. Operation Connectivity

The state announced it has procured one million personal devices and WiFi hotspots through the Operation Connectivity initiative. The effort was funded by a $200 million allocation from the CARES Act and matched by school districts across the state. The program, run by TEA and local education agencies, is meant to close the digital divide for public school students and ensure they have a device and an internet connection throughout this school year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools have opted for virtual instruction, leaving those without a reliable internet connection or device in a bind. We are making every effort to connect as many students as possible with our limited internet infrastructure.

5. Vote By Mail

As the November election approaches, it’s important to understand who is qualified to vote by mail in Texas. To request a mail-in ballot, you must be a registered voter that is either 65 years or older, can cite a disability or illness, is confined in jail but still eligible to vote, or will not be in the county on Election Day or during early voting. Lack of immunity to the novel coronavirus does not qualify as a disability or illness independently but may be considered in conjunction with a voter’s medical history to decide if they qualify. You can print an application at home, request one from your local election’s office, or contact the Secretary of State’s office. You must submit your application for ballot by mail to your county elections office by Oct. 23. Once you have received your ballot by mail, it must be returned to the election administrator by Election Day. The United States Postal Service is recommending anyone voting by mail send their ballot back at least a week before they are due to ensure it arrives on time.

My Five Cents

August 3rd, 2020 Posted by fromthetrail, Photography 0 thoughts on “My Five Cents”

By Robert Nichols

The history of East Texas is rich with stories of Texans fighting for our state’s independence. In July of 1832, an order was given requiring Texans to surrender their weapons to the Mexican army. In response, a band of settlers in Nacogdoches attacked the town’s Mexican garrison. To some historians, the Battle of Nacogdoches not only freed East Texas from Mexican military rule, but also served as the starting point of the Texas Revolution and led to the independence of our great state.  

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. Comptroller Projections 

Earlier this month Texas State Comptroller Glen Hegar released his projected forecast for the state’s biennial budget. Due to economic troubles caused by the global pandemic, Texas is predicted to have $11.6 billion less than was originally estimated. This means the state budget could have a $4.6 billion deficit when the biennium ends in September 2021. Texas relies on state sales tax revenue as its single largest source of funding. Revenue for sales tax in April, May, June was approximately 9.7 percent lower compared to the same time last year. While Comptroller Hegar will release an updated forecast before we go into the 87th Legislative Session this coming January, this latest estimate will help the state budget writers as they begin to prepare for this coming session. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will be working with my colleagues to ensure we are efficiently allocating funds while ensuring we have a balanced budget for the state.

2. STAAR Test 

Each Spring, students in third through twelfth grade must take the STAAR exam. For fifth and eighth graders, they must pass these exams to be able to move to the next grade. If they do not pass the first time, they have an opportunity to retake it later in the semester, or over the summer. Governor Greg Abbott announced recently that the reading and math tests for fifth and eighth grade would only be offered one time this coming year. Local school officials will have the discretion to determine whether a student should be promoted to the next grade, whether they passed or failed the STAAR exam. 

3. Federal Funding for Higher Education 

At the beginning of July, the State of Texas announced it will invest $57 million in federal funding to help the states need-based financial aid programs to help students to be able to stay enrolled in their colleges and universities. In addition to this, an additional $118 million has been allocated for higher education from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Trump. This funding includes allocations to assist students, whose families have been severely financially impacted by COVID-19, to stay in their higher education institutions. It will also provide financial aid for upskilling and reskilling displaced workers in high-demand fields, including workers who have earned some college credit but no credential, allowing new paths into the workforce with higher earning potential. 

4. November Early Voting 

In light of the many issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation which allows for an extended time period for early voting for the upcoming November elections. Early voting for the November 3 election will now begin October 13 instead of Oct. 19. The end date will remain on October 30. The proclamation also allows for those who are eligible for a mail-in ballot to hand deliver their ballots to the early voting clerks office before election day

5. Tax-Free Holiday 

Mark your calendars for this year’s sales tax holiday, which be held on August 7 – 9. Timed to help families during back-to-school shopping, 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. Layaway is also available for the purchases of qualifying items. 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. Due to COVID-19, you can buy qualifying items online, by telephone, mail or custom order during the tax-free weekend if the order is paid for and delivered during the weekend, or if the order is paid for, and the seller accepts it for immediate delivery, even if it is delivered after the tax-free weekend.

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Political Ad. Paid for by Robert Nichols for Texas Senate.

CONTACT

Phone: (903) 586-1200
Fax: (903) 586-7877
Email: info@nicholsforsenate.com

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2347
Jacksonville, Texas 75766

Physical Address:
214 East Commerce Street
Jacksonville, Texas 75766

MEET ROBERT NICHOLS

Texas Sen. Robert Nichols is a devoted husband and father who shares our conservative East Texas values. Sen. Nichols cares deeply about Texas and our country.