News Release
May 26, 2016
Contact: Sydni Mitchell
(512) 463-0103
My five cents...
A monthly column from Sen. Robert Nichols
by Sen. Robert Nichols, Senate District 3

On June 14th, we will commemorate the adoption of our countries flag with 13 stars and stripes to represent our nation and our founding colonies. With 50 stars in our current flag, our pride for our country stays strong.

Here are five things happening around your state this month:

1. School Finance Decision

The way public schools in Texas are funded has long been a debated topic. After hundreds of school districts filed lawsuits against the state, stating funding was inadequate and inequitable, a State District Judge ruled the system was unconstitutional. This decision was then appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. They recently released their ruling stating that while the system meets the minimum constitutional requirements, they believe it needs meaningful reforms.

I have kept close watch on this debate from the beginning, and will continue to work with our schools and the members of the Legislature to ensure the funding system is equitable. This upcoming Fall, I will be meeting with each of the 101 school superintendents in each of the 19 counties within Senate District 3 to discuss how we can be most effective. It is a great time to learn from them the needs of our school districts and how we can assist them."

2. Traveling Texas

As the temperatures begin to rise, school is out and you make plans for the summer, I wanted to give you some tips on what you can do in our state. To start, you can visit the Texas Travel Guide online at, which is a compilation of attractions, events and places to stay all across the state, including your Texas State Capitol. I encourage you to visit your Senate District 3 office. If I am not there to greet you, my staff would be happy to meet with you.

If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, you can visit one of the four Texas state parks located in Senate District 3: Mission Tejas State Park (Houston County); Lake Livingston State Park (Polk County); Martin Dies, Jr. State Park (Jasper County); and Village Creek State Park (Hardin County).

3. Widowed Spouses of Disabled Veterans

Last November, voters approved Proposition 2, which ensured all surviving spouses of 100 percent or totally disabled veterans would be able to qualify for a residence homestead exemption. It has been brought to my attention that while this was a very positive change, some of the qualifications for the exemption may be unclear. Because of this, I wanted to share with you what the qualifications are for this exemption:

  • An individual must have been married to a disabled veteran at the time of the veteran's death
  • Surviving spouse does not qualify for exemption if they have remarried
  • To qualify for the exemption, the property must have been the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the disabled veteran died and remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.

If you have any other questions regarding this, please don’t hesitate to contact my offices or talk to the Chief Appraiser for your area.

4. Marking History

From its founders to numerous historical sites, Texas is a state full of history. The Texas Historical Commission is currently accepting applications for undertold markers, representing an untold or undertold aspects of Texas history across the state. Funding received will assist by paying for the placement of a historical marker, or assisting with necessary research to qualify for a marker. More than 15,000 markers have been placed throughout the state commemorating the history and architecture of houses and public buildings, events that changed the course of local and state history and individuals who have made lasting contributions to Texas.

Nominations for undertold markers are currently being accepted through June 15, 2016. For more information please visit or contact the agency’s History Programs Division at 512-463-5853.

5. Texas Best Place for Business

For the 12th year in a row Texas has been named the best state in which to do business by the Chief Executive Magazine. Over 513 CEO's were asked to rank states they were familiar with based on the friendliness of the state's taxes, regulation, workforce quality and living environment. The publication also noted that though the state took a hit in the last year or so do to the shale energy bust, Texas still remained "held in high esteem by CEO's for its favorable economic reforms." I look forward to continue working in the Legislature to make our state even better.