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OPINION-State Capital Highlights: Governor goes on business-luring trip

AUSTIN — Maryland is the next state in Gov. Rick Perry’s sights. He’s already been to California, Connecticut, Missouri and New York to court businesses, hoping they will pull up stakes and head to the Lone Star State.

Perry announced on Sept. 12 that he would be in Maryland on Sept. 18 to make his pitch. To prepare Maryland for his arrival, a 60-second radio ad and 30-second TV ad are running in several markets.

“The ads showcase the opportunities and freedom available to families and businesses thanks to Texas’ smart fiscal policies,” the governor’s office stated, adding, the nearly $500,000 television and radio ad buys and the governor’s trip are paid for by “TexasOne” and “no state tax dollars were to be used for his travel and accommodations, or for the ad buy.”

TexasOne, according to information at texasone.com, raises money to fund “special events, outreach programs, and other exciting and highly visible marketing and communications programs. These programs are directed at a targeted audience of corporate decision makers and site selectors.”

An excerpt of what Perry says in one advertisement is this: “Unfortunately, your governor has made Maryland the tax and fee state, where businesses and families are paying some of the highest taxes in America. Since taking office in 2007, he's approved 40 new taxes and fees, projected to cost you $9.5 billion more through 2014. That’s a job killer. …”

The Baltimore Sun, in a Sept. 12 news article about Perry’s planned visit, quoted a spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. She referred to the visit as a “job-poaching expedition.”

Justice Hecht gets promoted

Gov. Perry on Sept. 10 announced the appointment of Justice Nathan L. Hecht of Austin as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, effective Oct. 1.

Hecht, set to serve as the court's 27th chief justice, succeeds Wallace B. Jefferson, who announced his resignation earlier this month.

Hecht was first elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1988 and is the senior justice on the court. He has won re-election four times. He previously served as a justice of the Texas 5th Court of Appeals and as judge of the 95th Judicial District Court in Dallas County.

Tax revenue trend continues

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Sept. 11 announced the state sales tax revenue in August was $2.39 billion, up 2.1 percent compared to August 2012.

“The latest monthly gains were led by sectors such as construction and the restaurant industry,” Combs said. “For the recently ended fiscal year, state sales tax revenue totaled $25.8 billion, an increase of 7.2 percent from fiscal 2012. Both business and consumer spending contributed to the gains for the year.”

Combs said she would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts their September local sales tax allocations totaling $575 million, up 2.8 percent compared to September 2012.

Election ID obtainable

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and election identification certificates are now available, only for voters who do not already have a required form of photo identification. There is no fee for the certificate.

On Sept. 13, opportunities to obtain a certificate were expanded when the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that a select group of 50 Texas Department of Public Safety offices will be open to accept applications for an election ID certificate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays until Nov. 2. For more information, go to dps.texas.gov or call (512) 424-2600.

Robotic tuna checks hull

A six-foot-long robotic fish designed to detect contraband hidden on a ship’s hull is being tested on the hull of the Battleship Texas, the museum ship docked at the San Jacinto State Historic site in La Porte.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Sept. 11 reported that the fish, going by the name of BIOSwimmer, “is a highly maneuverable, unmanned underwater vehicle that is equipped with a sophisticated suite of sensors and embodies the natural shape of a tuna.”

A test team, the agency said, planted packages “of mock contraband of varying sizes in tight, hard-to-reach spaces on the battleship’s hull and putting the BIOSwimmer through the paces to see if it can successfully detect them.”

A heavy-gunned dreadnought class vessel that served in World War I and World War II, the Battleship Texas “is showing us that you’re never too old to be of service to your country,” said Andy Smith, the ship manager for Texas Parks & Wildlife.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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