AUSTIN — Out-of-work Texans will have until Nov. 27 to qualify for unemployment benefits, the Texas Workforce Commission reported July 23.

This is thanks to passage of the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 by Congress on July 22. President Obama signed the act into law without delay.

About 150,000 Texans had exhausted their unemployment benefits, the Texas Workforce Commission said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the federal government’s basic extended benefits program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits when a state is experiencing high unemployment.

The national unemployment rate was 9.5 percent for the month of June. Texas’ unemployment rate was 8.2 percent that month.

Milestone arrest is made

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that as of July 13, his office’s Fugitive and Cyber Crimes units had combined for more than 2,000 arrests in the last seven years.

“Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of these dedicated peace officers, more than 2,000 criminals have been taken off the streets and held accountable for their unlawful conduct,” Abbott said on July 22. “We are grateful to the local, state and federal law enforcement officials from around the state who helped make this milestone possible and continue to work with us to protect Texas families.”

The 2,000th, Kirk Brandon Muller, 41, of Austin, was arrested in Travis County for having unauthorized contact with a child, a violation of his mandated parole requirements.

In 1993 in Travis County, Muller was convicted on four counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Muller’s victims were four young girls ranging from nine to four years old, Abbott’s office reported.

Vets’ mortgage

rates lowest

Mortgage rates for Texas veterans hit a record low last week of just 4.33 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced July 22.

Disabled veterans can borrow at even a lower rate of just 3.83 percent, he added.

“This is great news for Texas veterans,” Patterson said. “Rates this low help those who served buy homes now and keep them later.” The record low rate was set July 16 by the Veterans Land Board, which Patterson chairs.

Before, the lowest interest rate ever available to Texas veterans was 4.51 percent in June 2003.The highest rate ever offered by the Veterans Land Board was 10.145 percent in 1985.

Uninsured vehicles

on decline

Since the launch of the TexasSure auto insurance verification program two years ago, the number of uninsured vehicles on Texas roads is showing signs of decline, the Texas Department of Insurance reported last week.

Soon after its launch, the database showed that statewide, nearly one fourth of vehicles registered in Texas could not be matched to an insurance policy.

By June 2010, the number of unmatched registered vehicles had declined to 21.65 percent.

TexasSure “uninsured notices” are sent to the owners of registered vehicles that appear not to have auto liability insurance.

Customers are provided with the vehicle registration information on file and instructions to resolve issues. Customers may respond by mail, phone or online.

The program’s database helps law enforcement confirm whether a Texas-registered vehicle has valid auto liability insurance. It is able to match nearly all reported auto insurance policies to a registered vehicle.

The database has been available to all 254 county tax assessor-collectors since June 2008 and to Texas law enforcement since October 2008.

Vote would help

charter schools

The State Board of Education on July 23 voted 7-6 to allow up to $100 million of the Permanent School Fund to be used to build or buy buildings the state could lease to charter schools.

But the funds could only be used that way with approval from the attorney general or after passage of a new legislation.

Presently, the Permanent School Fund, which is currently worth about $22 billion, may only be used to purchase textbooks and other instructional materials.

DPS celebrates

75th anniversary

The Texas Department of Public Safety celebrated its 75th year on July 25.

To commemorate the anniversary, 20 motorcycle riders left the DPS office in Austin on a 2,376-mile tour of the state.