My Five Cents

Published 11:59 am Monday, June 29, 2015

By Sen. Robert Nichols

On June 14th, we commemorated the adoption of a flag with 13 stars and stripes to represent our nation and our founding colonies, with the stars set on a blue background to “represent a new constellation” in the night sky. While the stars in our current flag have changed to 50, the pride behind our flag has not.
Here are five things happening around your state:
Proposition 7
During the 84th Legislative Session, I authored and passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, which will dedicate a portion of the state’s sales and motor vehicle sales tax to the State Highway Fund. This constitutional amendment must be approved by the voters during the November 3, 2015 election. Over the next few months, I will be traveling around Senate District 3 and the State to educate Texans on this important proposal.
As there are six additional constitutional amendments on the November ballot, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office recently held a drawing to determine the rankings of the constitutional amendments on the ballot. My proposed transportation amendment will appear as Proposition 7.
To find out more about the other proposed propositions as well as to ensure you are registered to vote you can visit

Texas Gold Rush
While Texas has long been known for things such as cowboys, oil and cattle, we could very soon be known for gold as well. Governor Abbott recently signed HB 483 into law, authorizing the Texas Comptroller’s Office to create the state’s first bullion depository. This would provide a secure facility to store around $1 billion of gold bars owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., which are currently housed at a bank in New York. The depository could also hold deposits of gold and other precious metals from cities, businesses, individuals and countries.
When the system is fully operational, it would work more like a bank handling transactions. As the depository grew, the state would be able to earn revenue from the storage fees. Texas currently pays approximately $1 million a year to store its gold at the New York depository.

Veto Period
In my last column I told you about the Governor’s veto period and how he had until June 21st to veto bills. That deadline has passed and Governor Abbott has vetoed 42 of the 1,408 bills and resolutions passed by the Legislature. With his line-item veto authority,  he also cut $230 million from the state’s $209 billion budget the Legislature had set for the next two years. I am very proud of the work the Legislature accomplished this session and look forward to getting back to the district and sharing with you all that we accomplished.

Come and Get It!
Did you know that one in four Texans have unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, utility refunds and more? Banks and other entities make an effort to reunite this money with its owners, but if they cannot after a certain period, state law mandates the assets be turned over to the Comptroller’s office. The Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Division works diligently to give Texas citizens back what is truly theirs. Currently, approximately $3.4 billion in property has not been claimed by Texans. In 2014, the state returned more than $200 million to its owners.
Because it is never too late to make a claim, go to the Comptroller’s website at and type in your name or the names of family and friends to see if you or someone you know has money waiting to be claimed. You can also call toll free at 1-800-654-FIND (3463).

Fourth of July
As a child, I was always fascinated with fireworks. I worked my way through college by setting up stands and selling fireworks. To this day I am still fascinated with them and they are one of my favorite ways to mark a holiday. Fourth of July is probably the most notable holiday for fireworks, but did you know the 84th Legislature approved for fireworks to also be sold during Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day and Memorial Day?
John Adams once said the Fourth of July should be “solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” Whether you take one of John Adam’s suggestions or do something different, I hope you celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends as I know mine will be.

Robert Nichols is the Republican Senator for the 3rd District in the Texas Senate.