Senator Nichols briefs East Texans on the issues


Sixty-four years ago, in July, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA and underscored our commitment to space exploration and human spaceflight. NASA then chose to build a new flight control center outside of Houston, making Texas a vital part of the space race.

1) ALERRT and House Committee Release Reports on Uvalde Shooting

Last month, the Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center and the House Robb Elementary Shooting Inquiry Committee released reports on their assessment of the tragic Uvalde shooting. Each report highlighted different parts of the overall response. The ALERRT center covered the timeline, a physical assessment, and a tactical assessment. The tactical evaluation talked about their expertise on the strategies used while shooting and the different strategies that could have been used in this situation. Their expertise lies in the training of responders and their report revealed gaps in the training and delivery of this training. To read the report, visit

The House Investigating Committee into the Robb Elementary shooting released its report weeks after the ALERRT report. The House report detailed a detailed timeline of events leading up to the shooting, during the shooting, and after the shooting. They looked at the abuser’s life and family background, school security and facilities, law enforcement response, and made several factual findings. I commend my colleagues for their important work on this issue and look forward to working with other members of the House and Senate to develop recommendations in the future. To read the full report, go to

2) The suicide hotline number changes to 988

This month, the Federal Communications Commission implemented a change to the national Suicide Hotline number. Instead of the old 11-digit number, the new number has only three digits and is easier to remember. Now calling 988 will give you resources for immediate mental health emergencies, such as those at risk of suicide and other crises. The hope is that calling 988 for a mental health crisis will become as instinctive as calling 911 in an emergency. Those who call the hotline will be connected directly to a crisis center staffed by trained professionals who offer free and immediate help at any time. The line offers communication options in multiple languages ​​and is now available. People in distress can also chat with a qualified counselor by visiting

3) Universal Service Fund rates will increase on some phone lines

Starting August 1, phone customers will see an increase in their monthly bills due to a court ruling that state regulators must fully fund the Universal Service Fund (USF). USF was created to ensure that rural Texans have access to telephone service, which is legally a public necessity. Each phone customer’s bill has a line for USF which charged a fee of 3.3% of the cost of intrastate voice service. This percentage now rises to 24%. For many single-line customers, this fee was only 30 cents per month. This cost could reach around $2 per month or more. The change comes after the Public Utility Commission, which oversees USF, rejected a more modest increase in 2020, which would have raised the assessment to 6.4%. In 2021, Governor Abbott also vetoed a measure to address the issue.

4) Tax-free weekend for the upcoming school year

This year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend is Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7. Texans can save money on duty-free purchases of most clothing, shoes, school supplies and backpacks during the annual duty-free weekend. Eligible items can be purchased in-store or online. The exemption applies to every qualifying item sold for less than $100 and there is no limit to the number of qualifying items Texans can purchase.

5) Texas Parks and Wildlife is accepting lottery hunting license applications

Texas Parks and Wildlife opened applications for raffle hunting permits for the 2022-2023 hunting season in July. There are nearly 10,000 licenses in 62 hunting categories. Permits authorize trolling hunts on public and private lands, including hunting white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn, turkey, alligator, dove, and some exotic species. An interactive online map shows all hunting opportunities drawn by category or area. All applications, fees and permit issuances are processed online. Permits are open to resident and non-resident hunters. The first application deadlines are in August. For more information, visit

State Senator Robert Nichols, R, represents 19 East Texas counties in District 3. If you have a possible guest column for The Enterprise, send your idea or the column itself to Opinions@BeaumontEnterprise .com If you have something to say, we want to hear from you!


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