“NEWS AND NOTES”
September 27, 2010
The following is a collection of news and notes involving issues that affect House District 32.
Texas is currently holding more than $2 billion in cash and other valuables waiting for the rightful owners to claim. The Texas Comptroller estimates that one in four residents of the state have unclaimed property. Examples of unclaimed property include dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks; stocks, bonds and mutual fund accounts; utility deposits and other refunds; insurance proceeds; mineral interest or royalty payments; dormant bank accounts; and abandoned safe deposit box contents.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has been traveling around the state in order to bring public attention to the billions in unclaimed property currently being held by the State of Texas. The unclaimed property though is not just limited to individual Texans, “Cities, counties and school districts face challenges in this tough economy,” Combs said. “Our office has expanded its efforts to help government entities reclaim property, and … to get this money back and put it to work for the taxpayers.”
In a recent trip to Nueces County, Combs pointed out that in fiscal year 2009 the Comptroller’s office returned $2,287 to Nueces County and almost $2 million to Nueces County residents and businesses. To date the Comptroller’s office is still holding more than $16.7 million in unclaimed assets for individuals throughout Nueces County. To find out if you are one of the millions of Texas residents with unclaimed property I strongly recommend that you check the unclaimed property list by visiting www.ClaimItTexas.org or by calling 1-800-654-FIND (3463).
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Texas’ First Annual Conference on Human Trafficking will be held at the Capitol October 6th and October 7th. The conference will help in the state’s efforts to continue to build its understanding of the practice and effect of human trafficking occurring in the State of Texas as well as throughout the world. Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation or procurement of a person for labor or services that include involuntary servitude, slavery or forced commercial sexual acts.
In 2008 the Office of the Texas Attorney General released a report titled The Texas Response to Human Trafficking. The report offered 21 recommendations intended to reduce human trafficking and improve services to victims. As a result of the report the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence reviewed and passed several pieces of legislation aimed at providing added protections to victims of human trafficking in Texas during the 81st Legislative Session.
The U.S. State Department estimates that between 17,000 and 20,000 people are brought into the United States annually as modern-day slaves. Victims of human trafficking come from the most vulnerable demographics: high illiteracy rates, little social mobility, and few economic opportunities. They are subjected to beatings, starvation, and forced prostitution. More alarmingly, the State Department estimates that 20% of these victims are brought to Texas. Law enforcement has uncovered prostitution rings operating out of large cities such as San Antonio and Houston; most of the forced prostitutes are barely teenagers with little hope of ever escaping their plight.
Some of the House Committee hearings posted for the weeks ahead. On October 13th the House Select Committee on Transportation Funding will meet in Austin to hear invited testimony. The House Committee on Redistricting and the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence will be meeting in Beaumont at 11 am on October 18th to hear public input on redistricting.
If you have any questions, comments or ideas regarding unclaimed property or the Human Trafficking Conference, please don’t hesitate to contact either my Capitol or District office. 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