state agencies undergo sunset review process – agencies undergo sunset review process – depa...


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Over the past couple of months or so, I have beenoutlining Texas' sunset review process. The agencies I havecovered so far include the Texas Ethics Commission, the Boardof Pardons and Paroles and the State Commission on JudicialConduct and many others. As a reminder, in order to identifyand eliminate government waste, duplication and generalinefficiencies in state agencies, the Texas Legislature establishedthe Texas Sunset Advisory Commission in 1977. The sunsetreview process is designed to review each of these agencies everytwelve years. This review is done by taking up a certain numberof the state agencies each session when the Texas Legislatureconvenes.

In last weeks article we examined the Texas EthicsCommission which has the constitutional responsibilities toprovide recommendations for the salary of members of the TexasLegislature, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of theTexas House of Representatives subject to voter approval in thesubsequent general election. Constitutionally, the Texas EthicsCommission is also responsible for establishing the per diemamount for the members of the Texas Legislature and theLieutenant Governor. All other powers and duties of the TexasEthics Commission are established by the Texas Legislature.

In this week's article we are going to look at theDepartment of Information Resources. This agency is againunder the sunset review process. In 2011, Texas Governor RickPerry vetoed the legislation which would have reauthorized thedepartment for approximately twelve more years. TheDepartment of Information Resources was first established by theTexas Legislature in 1989 and tasked with setting the overallstrategic direction for the Texas State agencies' use andmanagement of their Information Technologies. Since 1989, theDepartment of Information Resources has continued to expandon its functions and scope.

Today, the Department of Information Resources has increasedits Information and Technology services to also include

telecommunication products and services. In addition, toproviding services to our state agencies, the Department ofInformation Resources also assists local governments anduniversities. The Department of Information Resources alsohelps with the procurement and administration of contracts onbehalf of the State of Texas.

The Department of Information Resources is overseen by a boardwhich consists of seven members appointed by the TexasGovernor and three ex officio members. One of the sevenGovernor-appointments must be given to an employee of aninstitution of higher education. The ex officio members arechosen by a rotation of the Commissioners of: Texas Departmentof Insurance, Health and Human Services, and Texas EducationAgency, as well as the Executive Directors of the Departments ofTransportation, Criminal Justice and Parks and Wildlife.

If you are interested in learning more about the Department ofInformation Resources, you can go to their website at

Some of the other agencies we will review in the upcomingweeks include the State Pension Review Board, Texas FacilitiesCommission and a number of other agencies currently goingthrough the sunset process.

If you would like to learn more on your own about the SunsetAdvisory Commission or other agencies undergoing the sunsetreview process, you can go to .

If you have any questions regarding the Department ofInformation Resources or the sunset review process, please don'thesitate to contact either my Capitol or District office. My officesare available at any time to assist with questions, concerns orcomments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603). - State Representative ToddHunter, District 32

Volume: 25 No.: 9080 PUBLISHERS - K D & S B GUTIERREZ September 5, 201 2

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Disaster Distress Helpline Offers 24/7 Counseling toHoustonians Affected by Hurricanes & Storms

Hurricane season is upon us, with many Houstonians bracing for the possibility of stormsbringing significant property damage, power outages, widespread flooding, injuries, and evendeaths to the Gulf Coast.

While most Bayou City residents understand hurricane season preparation activities suchas stockpiling water, buying non-perishable foods and gassing up their vehiclesfew areprepared for the emotional toll that natural and man-made disasters can take.

Also, many residents who weathered Hurricanes Ike or Ritaand the sizable population ofKatrina evacuees now living in Houstonmay find themselves still struggling emotionally asthey prepare for yet another potential crisis. Coping with the financial impact that can comefrom rebuilding a home or losing a job are just two of the potential reasons residents may needsupport.

For these reasons, Crisis Intervention of Houston, Inc., is one of four crisis centers nationwideselected to make people aware of the services provided by the Disaster Distress Helpline(Helpline), a 24/7 multi-lingual service for individuals experiencing emotional distress before,during, and after natural and human-caused disasters.

Our area is prone to hurricanes and tropical storms for six months of the year. Theunpredictability of these storms is enough to cause anyone stress, anxiety, and depression,particularly if theyve been through other natural disasters like Ike or Rita, said Shari Koziol,Executive Director of Crisis Intervention of Houston, which answers local Helpline calls. Itsimportant for individuals or families affected by disasters to know that they are not alone. Withjust a call or text, the Disaster Distress Helpline can help you feel better and move forward onthe path to recovery.

Heres how it works: Houston area residents suffering from disaster-related emotional distresssimply call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Spanish speakers may textHablanos to 66746. They are automatically connected to trained professionals from CrisisIntervention of Houston for free and private counseling and support, including information oncommon stress reactions and healthy coping. These staff members also can provide referralsto local disaster-related resources for follow-up care.

Emotional distress can include: sleeping too much or too little; stomach aches or headaches;anger; worry or guilt; drinking alcohol or smoking more than usual; using drugs; yelling orfighting with family and friends; feeling helpless or hopeless; and many other symptoms.

Those most at risk for emotional distress include storm survivors living or working in impactedareas, caretakers of children or older family members, non-English speakers, people living inrural areas, loved ones of storm victims, the elderly, and first responders and rescue andrecovery workers.

Feedback on the helpline from those who have called has been overwhelmingly positive:

--I wish this Helpline had been around after KatrinaAt the time there seemed to be nothingfor first responders [for crisis counseling]. I struggled for years after Katrina and then last yearlost my partner of 6 years, which has just added to the stress of working in disasters. Thanksfor being here!

--This is good to know. I was a three-time victim of the tornadoes last April and I am stillhaving issues whenever there are clouds in the sky and the wind blows. Thank you.

Disasters come in all different shapes and sizes. Some of them are even man-made, as wetragically saw with the recent Colorado movie theater shootings, said Christian Burgess,Director of the Disaster Distress Helpline. The psychological impact these events have onmany of those who experience them illustrates the need for a hotline like ours, with thecapacity to provide Houstonians with year-round disaster crisis counseling and support rightwhen they need it, said Burgess.



Texas Secretary of State Hope Andradereminds Texans that the law affecting statetrademarks changes on September 1, 2012.

Trademarks are an important tool formany businesses and entrepreneurs, andmy office stands ready to help Texansaddress any issues or concerns related tothese changes, said Secretary Andrade.We are ready to go with revised rules andupdated application materials.

Trademark filings made on or afterSeptember 1 will be affected by thechanges. These changes include:

Term of registration reduced from 10years to 5 years; Additional filing requirements, includingnotarization of applications; Review for potential conflicts expanded toinclude registrations with the UnitedStates Patent Trademark Office. Applicants planning to submit applicationson or after September 1 must use theupdated forms. Applicants with specificquestions about their trademark areencouraged to consult legal counsel.

More information, including a link to theadopted rules, is available on the Secretaryof States website under the businessfilings tab. Additional questions may bedirected to the Secretary of StatesCorporations Section at (512) 463-5555.

The changes in trademark laws and rulescomply with HB 3141 passed by the TexasLegislature in 2011.

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