AUSTIN - The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1424, the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” on Oct. 3. It was the House’s second attempt in five days to prop up faltering Wall Street financial institutions. President George W. Bush quickly signed the $700 billion legislation referred to by some as a “bail-out” and to others as a “rescue” plan.

The House vote was 263-171. The Texas delegation cast 17 votes against the bill and 15 for. On Oct. 1, the U.S. Senate passed the legislation on a vote of 74-25. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn both voted in favor. On Oct. 1, with Congress edging closer to passing the legislation, Gov. Rick Perry said he did not want taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street.

“In a free market economy, government should not be in the business of using taxpayer dollars to bail out corporate America. “Congress needs to take off its partisan gloves and work together to bring both short and long term stability to the credit markets. They need to stop blaming each other and start thinking about solutions that put the taxpayers of this country first,” he said in a prepared statement.

Perry joined with Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia in urging Congress to take action. Manchin is chair of the Democratic Governors Association and Perry is chair of the Republican Governors Association.

System to nail uninsured drivers

An estimated one in five vehicles - about 4 million -drive on Texas roads without proper insurance, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced Oct. 2. But now there will be extra pressure to “get legal” because of TexasSure, a motor vehicle insurance verification database designed to identify uninsured motorists.

Law enforcement officers will be able to tap into TexasSure and check records of registered passenger vehicles against personal auto insurance policy information submitted by Texas insurance companies.

“If you don’t have liability insurance for your vehicle, your chances of getting a ticket just went up dramatically,” DPS Lt. Louis Sanchez said.

Driving without liability insurance carries a maximum fine of $350 and hundreds of additional dollars in court costs and fees. Repeat offenders also are subject to a two-year driver license suspension.

Volunteers clean up beaches

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on Sept. 30 estimated 3,500 volunteers hauled more than 101 tons of trash off Texas beaches during the agency’s annual Adopt-A-Beach Fall Cleanup conducted Sept. 27.

That 101-ton total is all the more impressive considering for the first time in 22 years thousands of Adopt-A-Beach volunteers couldn’t reach the beaches in Beaumont, Galveston or Surfside, Patterson said.

Abbott goes after price gougers

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Oct. 2 took legal action against a hotel in Nacogdoches and another near Katy for unlawfully increasing room rates during Hurricane Ike.

The attorney general’s office is seeking civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation and up to $250,000 per violation for victims over age 65.

Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, businesses may not take advantage of a declared disaster by selling or leasing fuel, food, lodging, medicine or other necessities at an exorbitant rate.

Voter registration grows quickly

Since the March primaries, Texas voter registration has grown by nearly half a million people, Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade said Sept. 30.

There are now more than 13.2 million registered voters in the state, accounting for an estimated 75 percent of the voting-age population, said Andrade, the state’s chief elections officer.

Ag chief promotes

dine-out day

Many restaurants participated in the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up Oct. 1 to help local food banks serve a growing number of Texas families.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples asked Texans to dine out on Oct. 1. Participating restaurants donated a portion of the day’s proceeds to Texas food banks in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s “Texans Feeding Texans” initiative.