Domestic Violence Awareness: Time for Action

This week’s article is focusing on Domestic Violence Awareness and encouraging ideas for help in its prevention. Domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, assault, and/or abusive behavior of an intimate partner to establish power and control over the other partner. Domestic violence offenders use physical, sexual, emotional, and/or psychological abuse or violence to establish and maintain power and control over their victims. Some examples of these actions include intimidation, coercion, threats, social or economic isolation, and/or belittlement.
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TxDOT #EndTheStreakTX Campaign

I would like to draw attention to a very important topic we face in Texas, which is roadway safety. Since November 7, 2000 at least one person has died every single day, with an average of 10 deaths everyday. As a result, The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently launched the annual #EndTheStreakTX campaign. During this campaign, TxDOT asks all Texans to join the effort to end the deadly 19-year streak on roadways in Texas. The Texas Transportation Commission has set a goal aiming to end all fatalities on Texas roads by 2050, with an interim goal to reduce them by half by 2035. I hope we can work together to end this deadly trend to make all roadways in Texas safe.

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Human Trafficking Awareness

The month of January serves as Human Trafficking Awareness month. Accordingly, Governor Abbott has proclaimed January 2020 as Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During this month, advocates, organizations, and individuals unite to raise awareness about this very important issue. According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is “modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Human trafficking is not the same as human smuggling, which involves illegal transportation of a person across a border. Victims of human trafficking are of all genders, ages, races, countries, socioeconomic statuses, and so on. While human trafficking can happen to anyone, people who are already in vulnerable situations – such as people experiencing homelessness – may be more likely to be targeted.
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National Ovarian Cancer Month

Each year, September is named as National Ovarian Cancer Month. This awareness month was initiated to educate communities on the importance of early detection and intervention in the fight against ovarian cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer only affects a small percentage of women, but because women are more likely to have symptoms once the disease has spread, it can become dangerous. However, research has shown that the survival rate for women with ovarian cancer has steadily improved in recent years, thanks to increased awareness about the disease. For those impacted by ovarian cancer, early detection is often the most important factor in determining treatment success.

It is estimated that in 2019, approximately 22,530 women will be newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer while 13,980 women will die from the disease. On average, the five-year survival rate of ovarian cancer is 46%. However, according to the American Cancer Society, when ovarian cancer is found at an early, localized stage, 94% of patients can live longer than five years. Unfortunately, only one in five women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at this stage. Unlike many other types of cancers, ovarian cancer is often difficult to diagnosis at early stages due to limited testing options and the lack of early warning signs or symptoms. Moreover, while ovarian cancer is common in women over the age of 63 and those with a family history, there are often several women who are diagnosed with the disease that do not fall into these risk categories.
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Texas Coastline and Tourism

The Coastal Bend is one of the top tourism destinations in the State of Texas. This is in great part due to our region’s many historical, cultural and coastal attractions. I would like to spend some time discussing the different components of the tourism industry in our region, starting with nature‐based tourism. While Texas beaches are popular tourist destinations, nature tourism is one of the fastest- growing market segments in tourism activities in our area. Today, I would like to share with your information about this important type of tourism as well as several unique nature-based attractions and activities found in our area.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department defines nature tourism as tourism based on the natural attractions in the area and may include such activities as birdwatching, stargazing, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and visiting parks or wildlife habitats. The Coastal Bend is home to several parks and preserves that serve as a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife. These habitats contribute to one of the best examples of nature‐based activities driving visitors to our area: bird watching. With over 215 species of birds spotted in the area, the Audubon Society has routinely named Nueces County as one of the premier destinations for bird watching in the country.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is an online resource providing information about the best locations to spot birds and other wildlife. For more information about the different wildlife habitats, parks, and nature preserves in our area, visit Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.

If you enjoy nature and birds, then be sure to visit the 31st Annual HummerBird Celebration this month. The Celebration will be held on September 19-22 in Rockport. This year the event will feature 75 vendors, more than 12 speakers, and a variety of nature inspired field trips. While the Celebration is designed for bird watchers and those who follow migration patterns, it can be educational, inspiring, and fun for all. For more information about tickets or the Celebration in general, visit HummerBird Celebration Sept 19-22.

Also, Beachtoberfest will be held between September 13- October 30. For eight weeks this festival will have different events each week, including runs, movie nights, a pumpkin patch, an art walk, and much more. However, the event will feature events like Fishing for the Fallen Veterans Benefit Tournament, which will be held from September 13-14. The Texas Super chef Throwdown Series will be held from September 18-21. Also, the Port A Music Fest, with acts that will perform at venues throughout the town, will be held October 4-5. Beachtoberfest will be a great opportunity to enjoy the music, food, and the culture of the Coastal Bend. For more information, visit Beachtoberfest.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Texas Coastline and Tourism

The Coastal Bend is one of the top tourism destinations in the State of Texas. This is in great part due to our region’s many historical, cultural and coastal attractions. I would like to spend some time discussing the different components of the tourism industry in our region. The coastline and beaches of Texas are important to our great state as these areas are home to wildlife unique to the region. Texas beaches are also popular tourist destinations so preserving these natural areas is essential to our state’s wellbeing. Today, I would like to share with your information about this important type of tourism as well as several unique nature-based attractions and activities found in our area.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department defines nature tourism as tourism based on the natural attractions in the area and may include such activities as birdwatching, stargazing, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and visiting parks or wildlife habitats. The beauty of the Coastal Bend lies in the waterscapes and beaches that line the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay. Spring break draws both tourists and residents flocking to the coastline to soak up the sun, but these destinations have so much more to offer than a good tan.
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Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

As one of the nation’s leading disaster relief organizations, the American Red Cross responds to thousands of disasters each year. While many might associate the organization’s outreach efforts with major catastrophic events such as hurricanes and wildfires, the American Red Cross reports that home fires represent 90 percent of its disaster response efforts. In fact, home fires represent one of the biggest disaster threats to families in the United States, resulting in over $7 billion in property damage each year. On average, seven people die and 36 people are injured a day as a result of a home fire. Given these startling statistics, the American Red Cross launched a Home Fire Prevention campaign in 2014, aimed at reducing deaths and injuries resulting from home fires by 25%. As such, I would like to share some simple steps you can take to protect your family and home in the event of a home fire.
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Medical Alert Awareness Month

The month of August is Medic Alert Awareness Month. For over 60 years, the MedicAlert Foundation International (MAFI) has customized jewelry for people who suffer from life threatening medical conditions. Dr. Marion Collins established MAFI after his daughter, Linda, nearly died of a severe allergic reaction during a simple non-life threatening medical procedure. Soon after, the Collins’ family came up with the idea of inscribing Linda’s medical condition on a bracelet, rather than attaching a note to her coat everywhere she went without her parents. Today, these medical alert bracelets, necklaces, and shoe tags help save millions of lives across the world annually. This month is dedicated to educating everyone about these medical alert bracelets to prevent another situation like Linda’s from occurring.
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Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) awareness month. Organizations like Cure SMA work diligently to educate the public about this genetically-passed disease that is the leading cause of death of infants up to 2 years of age. 1 in 50 Americans, despite gender or race, can be a carrier of this recessive gene. Being informed and spreading knowledge on the probability, risks, and effects of this disease is helpful in family planning and the pursuit of finding a cure.
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Back-To-School Means Sales Tax Holiday

Back-to-school is right around the corner which means the arrival of Texas’ annual Sales Tax Holiday, which has been an annual event since 1999. This year’s sales tax holiday begins Friday, Aug. 9, and goes through midnight Sunday, Aug. 11. Shoppers will pay no state or local sales tax on many schools supplies, most clothing and shoes priced under $100. Lay-away plans can also be used to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes. Backpacks under $100 used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt. The backpack exemption includes backpacks with wheels, provided they can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack, and messenger bags. The exemption does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks.

In addition to clothes, footwear and backpacks, Texas families also get a sales tax break on most school supplies priced at less than $100 purchased for use by a student in an elementary or secondary school.

No exemption certificate is required for holiday purchases -with one exception. If the purchaser is buying the supplies under a business account, the retailer must obtain an exemption certificate from the purchaser certifying that the items are purchased for use by an elementary or secondary school student. “Under a business account” means the purchaser is using a business credit card or business check rather than a personal credit card or personal check.

To assist families who are planning to take advantage of the savings, the Comptroller’s website provides a list of tax-free items. This list can be found online at Sales Tax Holiday.

If you have any questions regarding the annual Sales Tax Holiday, please don’t hesitate to contact either my Capitol or District office. It’s a busy time of year for parents so my offices are available to assist at any time to with questions, concerns or comments. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces (Part) County. He can be contacted at toddhunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672.