HEIRS NEWS February 13, 2013
As an HEIRS committee member and attorney, Eileen McKenzie Fowler was recently asked to draft some special amendments to HB724 (even though she did not author that bill) and send them to Representative Ryan Guillen’s Legislative Director, which she did February 12, 2013.
The intent of HB 724, as stated therein, is to pay claims of all heirs of original grantees in Texas. The HEIRS committee feels that HB 724 could be an important companion bill to the proposed HEIRS legislation, but only if it is changed in the following way.
The currently-filed version of HB724 calls for the appointment of a commission to investigate the Texas Comptroller’s office regarding unclaimed mineral proceeds (umps) in Texas. The commission would be made up of three members appointed by the Governor, two members each to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, the Land Commissioner, the Comptroller’s Office, the Attorney General’s office and the Texas historical Society. (Our work has brought wide attention to the enormous problem of identifying the unclaimed mineral proceeds in Texas.) HB 724 as filed, however, does not go far enough to accomplish its goals, in the HEIRS committee’s opinion.
Our suggested changes include giving additional authority to the new commission to investigate not only what amounts of unclaimed mineral proceeds (umps) have been turned over to the Comptroller, but what amounts should have been turned over to that office but never were. This additional authority will allow the newly appointed commission called for in HB 724 to account for the millions (perhaps billions) of dollars in umps that former Judges in Starr County, among others, ordered oil companies who were parties to lawsuits in their courts to deposit into the registry of their courts, rather than turning them over to the State as required by the 1986 Texas Unclaimed Property Act. Our amended language, if the bill passes, will allow the new commission to investigate all court registries (banks) in South Texas who may have received ump deposits after 1986, in direct violation of the Act.
The HEIRS committee will meet with Representative Guillen and his staff on Monday, February 18th in Austin to discuss all of these issues. We will update you all again after that meeting.
You may look at HB724 and read it yourself at www.texaslegislatureonline.com. Just type in HB724 in the space provided on the upper right portion of the screen. You may do the same with the HEIRS’ proposed bill, once we have the bill number.
You may also look on line at www.findlaw.com, or google ‘Texas Laws’ and follow the prompts until you get to Texas Codes, then enter Property Code, Chapter 74 and 75. Reading the relevant part of this law will give you a clear idea of why (1) you have been declared direct descendants of your ancestors, and (2) why you are working to complete your abstracts. The judgments and abstract/title opinions are required under the Texas Unclaimed Property Act, in the section dealing with filing a claim.
We will be posting notice soon of HEIRS’ bill number so that you can begin your letter writing to your state representatives and senators. It is frustrating to wait, I know, because it is for us, as well, but we are staying on top of things and have been told daily that we will have the HEIRS’ bill number soon.
Thank you again for your loyalty, tenacity and determination to continue the fight with us until we are victorious. We have so much more support for our bill than in the last session, so the committee’s hopes are high, but passage is really up to all of you. Your letters to your representatives and senators could win the day.
Thank you for your continued support for HEIRS. Not an HEIRS member? You may join by sending your $50 annual membership fee to HEIRS, P. O. Box 490, La Porte, TX 77572. The membership list is updated and available for your review on line at www.spanishlandgrants.com. Click on the HEIRS link and then click on ‘HEIRS Members.’
HEIRS T-Shirts are available in sizes small, medium and large for $20.00, and sizes XL, 1X, 2X and 3X for $23.00. They may be ordered by sending the number of shirts required, sizes required and the proper amount, and they will be mailed to you promptly.
All membership fees and T-Shirt proceeds go to support HEIRS, a voluntary committee working on behalf of all original land grant descendants in Texas.