***TO ALL MEMBERS OF OUR DESCENDANT FAMILIES***
POSTED AUGUST 2, 2012
To All Members of our Descendant Families.
Over the course of several weeks, I have had the benefit of several in-depth discussions with various legal and legislative consultants, friends and members of The Land Grant Justice Association. The intent of these discussions has been to review, assess and to recommend the very best legislative strategy over the course of the next two Texas legislative sessions.
In doing so, several topics were significantly important...in no particular order, they are: 1) the mission and goals of the Association, 2) the current unsettled political situation in Austin, 3) the legal/historical basis for future legislation, 4) lessons learned during our attempts with HB 2611 in the 82nd legislative session, 5) the on-going title abstract/document research project and its impact on our strategy and progress, and 6) the budgetary goals, costs and current shortfalls related to the Association’s operations.
On Thursday, July 19th I sent a letter (via email) to the officers and founding board members of our Association recommending that The Land Grant Justice Association adopt a temporary “inactive” status so as to allow more time to 1)assess the political and legislative climate, 2) determine a definitive legal basis for new legislation and, 3) so that there is a resolution to those matters that are impeding membership enrollment.
A teleconference board meeting was held on Tuesday July 31st, and after an hour and forty-five minute discussion, a motion to have the Association go inactive was presented, voted on, and passed with three (3) dissenting votes. The officers and founding board members are comprised of eight (8) voting members, all of which are non-compensated volunteers.
In the near term, our purpose is to monitor and observe, to continue a comprehensive review and assessment, to discontinue the collection of membership contributions, and to create the best plan for legislative success not in this next 83rd legislative session, but in the following 84th. At an agreed-to-time, very likely in the July 2013 time frame, we would formally reconvene to assess and recommend a course of action for future operations.
This action is not intended to diminish the historical importance of this issue, nor is it intended to devalue that which is so very important to our families. At this point in time, it is prudently best to pause, to allow all relevant conditions to improve...and to allow them to define themselves so that we may have a better chance for legislative success in the future.
Please receive my heartfelt gratitude for your support, understanding and trust in this matter, and I pray that we all continue to stand united with God’s blessings as we go forward.
With kind personal regards,
The Land Grant Justice Association, Inc.
POSTED: APRIL 10, 2012
** Today marks the official start of our 2012-2013 Legislative Campaign. The Association is launching a carefully planned strategy that will give us the greatest chance for success in the 83rd Legislative Session. Our campaign is designed to take us into the special session of the 83rd Session, if one is required. To our great advantage, we have had several months to prepare ourselves, and we hope that our enhanced legislation will we approved in Austin, and will become law in 2013.
The Association will begin a series of out-reach communications efforts to energize our descendant families as we MUST grow our Association to at least 4000 members if we are going to be successful in our legislative attempt. We have carefully worked up a budget for our expenses through July 31, 2013 and the cost of our campaign dictates that we have at least 4000 members contributing the minimum contribution of $50.00, both in 2012 and 2013. Our Vice-President, Mr. George Farias has made an appeal that if some of our members pre-pay both the '12 and '13 contribution, that we may be in good financial standing. We hope that ALL primaries in our descendant families will be the first to contribute as they are the ones that will be most favorably impacted by our work.
Please help us rally as many of our family members as possible. Our success depends on your willingness to help us grow the Association. Now is the time for us to go forward and succeed in this most important historical matter.
Please receive, once again my gratitude and sincere thanks for your attention and support.
On behalf of the rest of the officers and board of TLGJA, receive our kind best regards,
The Land Grant Justice Association, Inc. POSTED: MARCH 18, 2012
** The TLGJA Annual Board of Directors meeting was held March 3, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. Minutes of prior meetings were approved and adopted, and retention of officers and consultants was confirmed and adopted.
A variety of agenda items were discussed during our very productive 3 hour board meeting. Central to our discussions were the budgetary, legislative and communication requirements needed in 2012, as well as for the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2013.
A very important item of discussion was the "new survey" program that was begun in November 2012 by Ms. Eileen Fowler and the Riviera Group. Please refer any and ALL questions about the new survey program to Ms. Fowler.
Additionally, a 2 hour conference meeting was held by the officers of the Association on March 15, 2012. Items discussed were the near-term action items that need to be implemented, such as budget forecasts, TLGJA membership number requirements, communications to the membership, and the meetings to be scheduled with our consulting/lobbying groups in Austin. During the conference, as well as in the board meeting of March 3rd, discussions of the current political climate in the state of Texas were conducted at length.
Any future meetings with the agencies at the state capitol will be for information and discussion purposes only, and will be intended to prepare us as we go forward into the 83rd Legislative Session which begins in January 2013.
The Association will develop a membership and fund raising timetable that will reflect the financial and support requirements for 2012, and for the period of the first 6 months of 2013. * The financial strength of your Association as it will exist on September 30, 2012 will DETERMINE our ability to go forward with our renewed legislative efforts. *
We will continue to post periodic updates as we move through our planning stages...and as always, thank you for your interest and very kind support.
With warm regards,
TLGJA POSTED: December 12, 2011
** Our work for 2011 is coming to a conclusion, and this holiday season reminds us of our many blessings and the gratitude your TLGJA officers and board members feel for the opportunity to serve the many wonderful families associated with this wonderful cause.
Our work continues...this last week we had a productive and informative meeting in Austin with the Deputy Attorney General for Government and External Affairs and his staff. The meeting was intended to inform the Attorney General's office of the history and value of our cause, and the importance of having the office of the Attorney General being in support of our forthcoming legislative initiative in the 2013 83rd legislative session.
We are now working to schedule a meeting with Ms. Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller; it is our hope that Ms. Combs will acknowledge the importance of continuing to working amicably with our stated goals and will give TLGJA the endorsement and support needed to develop a claims process for the unclaimed, un-conveyed mineral proceeds that our descendant families are entitled to.
Your TLGJA officers will be meeting internally in the near future to further plan our strategies, budgets, consulting and communications requirements.
It has been a great honor for me to serve the land grant descendant families this year, and on behalf of the officers and board of The Land Grant Justice Association, please receive our most sincere wishes for a blessed Christmas season and we wish you much love, good health and prosperity in the New Year.
POSTED: September 27, 2011
** The work of the Association continues at a slow but STEADY pace as we move forward with our strategy and the work that is ongoing with several state agencies in Austin, Texas. The Association representatives have had several discussions with the Comptroller's legal staff, and we anticipate a productive meeting with the Attorney General's office as we pursue both a statutory and regulatory amendment that would permit the creation of a claims process for our land grant descendants.
A lengthy and productive Association board meeting was held on September 17th in Victoria, Texas. Central to our discussions were the political and legislative strategies that would be required, primarily through the end of the 83rd legislative session that concludes June 2013. Other top issues were the financial projections necessary for the next 18 months, as well as plans for the development of a comprehensive communications plan that will allow for both team building and instant and rapid communications with all Association members as well as critical staffers and legislators in Austin.
The Land Grant Justice Association, its volunteer officers and board members, once again reaffirmed its commitment to work to the best of its ability as a non-profit organization on behalf of all land grant descendants. While TLGJA is intending to explore all available (best) options for the eventual establishment of a claims administration process, TLGJA cannot make any guarantees or representations that its efforts will be successful. (TLGJA Disclaimer, 9-27-2011).
Thank you for your continued interest and generous support as the Association works for all who seek a just and equitable solution to a more than century old injustice.
With Kind Best Regards,
POSTED: August 24, 2011
** The first order of this post is to acknowledge and to give thanks to all of our land grant descendants that continue to support the Association by their contributions and wonderful words of encouragement, prayers and support...it would be impossible for the Association to continue its work without that support and encouragement from its membership. As this critical piece of Texas history unfolds, it has become apparent that the creation of a claims administration system on behalf of our land grant descendants will depend mostly on the work of TLGJA, and therefore your continued support and a growing membership is vital.
The Association has just completed work on the compilation of its email list database, and has contracted a communications provider to assist us with instant communications that will be required in the future.
We are working on the final draft of our new FAQ (frequently asked questions) section of our website, and will post that new addition in the next several days. There exists a critical need to clarify misconceptions about what a "declaratory judgment" is, and how it relates to the ability to file a "valid claim" with the state of Texas. Simply, a declaration of descendancy acknowledges judicially that a person is a descendant of an original Mexican or Spanish land grantee, but it does not convey an "inheritance", nor does it grant title to lands or mineral royalties that have previously been purchased or conveyed and recorded by current owners.
At the present time, a claims administration system for descendants who originate from land grants that still have un-conveyed mineral royalties remaining (approx. 200 grants) does NOT exist. The oil and gas producers on these 200 grants DO make deposits into the Unclaimed Property Division/Unclaimed Mineral Proceeds Fund after holding the money in trust for a three year "dormancy" period; that money is co-mingled with all other un-conveyed mineral royalties from throughout the state of Texas.
The purpose of House Bill 2611 was to create a claims process for our descendants, and the funds were to come from that Unclaimed Mineral Proceeds Fund...as everyone knows, HB 2611 was not heard or voted upon in the 82nd legislature, that in spite of Rep. Ryan Guillen's valiant efforts. Currently TLGJA is working on a dual track program that will focus on obtaining rule making action on the part of the state Comptroller that will allow land grant descendants to file valid claims against funds that are not identified as belonging to "reported" owners, and secondly, will work to develop a legislative solution that will solidify that claims process in the next legislative session.
It is important for ALL PRIMARY DESCENDANTS of all groups to know that their contributions to the Association are both critically needed and appropriate. It is the primary descendants who will be most favorably impacted by the work being done today on the political and legislative front, and that work is being done by TLGJA solely because of your contributions and support. While we work in tandem with Ms. Eileen Fowler, her time is, and should be primarily dedicated to the judicial work necessary to declaratory judgments. It is also vital for everyone to know that any future valid claims by primary descendants will require the expertise that Ms. Fowler provides, and that would be: a declaratory judgment, a completed title search on a land grant, and production reports on that land grant.
TLGJA will continue to work diligently on your behalf, and updates will be posted as appropriate. Thank you for your support...with blessings to you and yours, I remain with gratitude,
POSTED: July 18, 2011
** On Thursday July 14th, TLGJA met with the Director of Unclaimed Property and members of the Comptroller's legal staff for agency affairs. TLGJA was represented by TLGJA President Al Cisneros, TLGJA Legislative Consultant Senator/Atty. Hector Uribe, TLGJA Adviser Atty. Don Tomlinson, (3) Members of the legal/legislative firm that lobby on behalf of TLGJA, and Ms. Katy Johnson, Legislative Director for Representative Ryan Guillen.
Our meeting was conducted in a very cordial and constructive manner, the meeting was an hour and a half in duration, and all attendees acknowledged that there was beneficial progress made in all areas that were discussed.
At present, additional meetings are being scheduled with the Attorney General's staff and with the Comptroller herself, Ms. Susan Combs. Our aim is to attempt a legal, political and rule making remedy so that we can accomplish our goal...the creation of a claims administration process structured specifically for descendants of land grantees.
** On Saturday July 16th TLGJA conducted a workshop meeting of its officers and board members in San Antonio at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. A communications committee was formed, with members and a Director of Communications to be named in the very near future. Various topics were discussed, with emphasis given to Association structure and finances, the history of our legislation (HB 2611) and its future status, current negotiations with state agencies, and the critical need to create a better information system so that we can better organize and inform all of the land grant families. Special acknowledgment and thanks to Ms. Gloria Flores and Ms. Alicia Reyes for their contributions in the communications area.
Future dates for larger group "road shows" (for Fowler Group family representatives only) are being considered, and as has been done before, the plan is to have one meeting in San Antonio, and the other further south in the Rio Grande Valley area. Meeting information will be posted well in advance so as to allow the group representatives enough time to make their travel plans.
TLGJA continues to explore all options and pathways as we attempt to achieve our goals, and your financial support, recommendations and interest in these matters is greatly appreciated.
POSTED: July 7, 2011
The Land Grant Justice Association is scheduled to meet with the head of the unclaimed properties division of the Comptroller's Office on July 14th. The meeting is intended to make the Comptroller and her staff aware of the importance of finding an equitable solution to the issue of creating a claims process specific to valid claims made by judicially declared heirs of original grantees. Subsequent to the meeting with staff members, a meeting with the Comptroller herself will be scheduled, and that date will be made available as soon as possible.
The Association will have a board meeting on Saturday, July 16th in San Antonio, the exact time, location and agenda details are being finalized.
TLGJA will continue to work hard on behalf of all of our families, and your continued interest, prayers and financial support is greatly appreciated. Blessings to all.
POSTED: June 19, 2011
Our bill sponsor, Rep. Ryan Guillen, has re-filed our previously numbered bill (CSHB 2611) as HB 77 for the Special Session of the 82nd Legislature. It was important for Rep. Guillen to submit the bill, as it keeps this important matter before the "political powers that be". PLEASE NOTE: Any member of the legislature can file ANY bill for a Special Session, but please know that the fate of these bills is limited by the dictates of the State Constitution. The legislature can only vote on issues on the Governor's Call and those are very specific issues critical to the goals of the legislature and the Governor in each session. The political reality, FOR THE MOMENT, is that the matter of land grants/inheritances is NOT one of those specific issues in this session.
The Association has just concluded a round of meetings and visits in Austin this week, and is scheduling meetings with the staff of the Comptroller and the Comptroller herself. Our first meeting is scheduled for July 14th, but there will be informal visits and phone conversations prior to that. These meetings are intended to begin the process of establishing a program specific to valid claims submitted by land grant heirs. Meetings will be scheduled with the staffs of the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Chairman of the RRC and Rep. Guillen.
It is critically important, once again, for ALL of our families, in and out of the state of Texas, to understand WHO is doing the work at the state capitol. HB 2611 and therefore HB 77 was originally written/authored by the Land Grant Initiative-TLGJA for the purposes of submitting it for sponsorship in this 82nd Legislature. At various stages of the bill process, there have been valiant efforts put forth by Rep. Guillen's staff, especially Katy Johnson, to move the bill in and out of Legislative Council for revisions and amendments. Our lobbying firm has spent countless hours on the floor of the capitol, in and out of committee members offices doing difficult work...it has truly been a great team effort. The dictate now...is to press on.
+ On the matter of what TLGJA considers critical to valid claims administration for our families, the requirement to have 1) a declaratory judgement of descendancy and 2) a completed survey on the land grant(s) is obligatory. Any future successful valid claim will also require past oil and gas production information and net minerals remaining by title search. Money disbursed would come from Unclaimed Mineral Proceeds fund held by the Comptroller, and should be apportioned on an annual basis
+ A steering committee has been formed, and work begun on the creation of a database that will include heirs at ALL descendancy levels who will be valid claimants and members and/or supporters of The Land Grant Justice Association. A Communications Director and staff members will be named at the next board meeting to be held on July 16th.
+ The Land Grant Justice Association will continue to work tirelessly as it works on behalf of every land grant family regardless of group affiliation or state of residence. That is our goal...and we intend to be successful.
God bless our families, especially our fathers on this Father's Day, God bless America and the great state of Texas.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
*The state of Texas is authorized to allocate funds similar to those in its unclaimed property division into its general revenue fund for purposes of balancing the state budget. The portion of money (that affects us), categorized as "unclaimed mineral royalties", is and can be, appropriated BACK into the Comptroller's claims administration programs as submitted in their Legislative Appropriations Request, and as required by the Unclaimed Property Act and the Property Code of the state of Texas. It is the goal of TLGJA to create cordial and mutually beneficial relationships with ALL state agencies and legislators so that a LONG TERM claims administration system can be created specific, and unique to the descendants of the original land grantees.*
**OUR WORK CONTINUES. WE HAVE HAD A VERY PRODUCTIVE WEEK OF REVIEW AND ARE PREPARING A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN THAT WILL ADDRESS BOTH THE POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE REMEDIES THAT WILL GIVE US THE BEST CHANCE FOR SUCCESS. PLEASE KNOW THAT WE ARE WORKING EXTREMELY HARD AND WILL NOT STOP UNTIL OUR GOALS ARE MET. YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH PERIODIC UPDATES, BUT WE EXPECT TO MAKE SLOW, STEADY PROGRESS. BLESSINGS TO ALL, AND THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT.**
++ Today, May 21, 2011, SB 1811 was stripped of most of its proposed amendments and was passed by the House. Our proposed amendment which affected the manner in which the Comptroller's office would administer claims submitted by legitimate heirs of Spanish and Mexican land grants, was not voted upon. We will be in conference for the next several days to determine the next best course of action. As soon as we have reliable information to post, we will do so immediately. We will continue to work hard and continue to press. ++
*Hearings on SB-1811 have been postponed on both the 18th and 19th of May*
-Posted 5-18-11. The Daily House Calendar for Wednesday 5-18-11 has SB 1811 (relating to certain state fiscal matters, 2nd reading) amendments drafted by Rep. Guillen that would favorably impact the status of unconveyed mineral rights in a Spanish or Mexican Land Grant. -
* Posted 5-17-11 at 10:10 AM. Representative Guillen's office is trying to advance an amended version of our bill by including it in a fiscal matters bill that is being heard this week. Work is in the preliminary stages, and the staff is busy at work...they are trying their very best! *
*** Posted 5-13-11 at 3:50 P.M. CSHB 2611 was not heard on the floor last night. We missed the midnight cutoff by about 10 bills. Rep. Guillen and his staff are working very hard to add our bill as an amendment to other Senate bills or House bills that may be up for a third reading. PLEASE DO NOT CALL Rep. Guillen's office at this juncture. TLGJA will provide further guidance. His staff is extremely busy working on our behalf, and must not be distracted. THANK YOU, WE WILL CONTINUE WORKING HARD ON YOUR BEHALF.***
*On 4/28/11, our Committee Substitute HB 2611 was reported out of committee in its amended form, and is being sent to the Local and Consent Calendars Committee to be voted on. * Bill is reported out of House Committee on Business and Industry with vote of 7 Ayes, 0 Nays, 2 Absent. *
+ The Committe for Business and Industry has not included HB 2611 in it's hearing agenda for Monday
April 4th. TLGJA has scheduled meetings in Austin so as to assist the bill sponor, committe members and
state agencies in matters relevant to HB 2611.
++ The TLGJA appeared before the Business and Industry committee on Monday, March 28th, speakers on behalf of of TLGA were Mr. Don Tomlinson, Ms. Eileen Fowler, and TLGJA president, Al Cisneros. There was no opposition to HB 2611 during the hearings. TLGJA, with the help of Senator Hector Uribe assisted Rep. Ryan Guillen's staff with the draft of an appropriations rider that will be beneficial to the RRC.
- A Note from the President -
TLGJA recognizes and affirms ALL previous and current advocacy groups associated with the land grant movement. TLGJA is the organization solely responsible for drafting the legislation currently before the House and Senate in the state of Texas.
The success of the legislation requires the full support of Republicans and Democrats alike, and even though this legislation is by its historical nature "non-partisan", TLGJA is engaged in constructive political dialogue with those most responsible for safe passage of this historic legislation.
Similarly, the leadership role and the success of the TLGJA requires the full support of ALL advocacy groups, and as a member of the committee responsible for drafting the legislation, I encourage your membership/contribution and applaude your political engagement in this matter which is of great historical importance.
* Fox 26 (Houston) telecast of Thursday, Mar. 17th.
* On Friday March 11th Senator Juan Hinojosa (District 20), filed a companion senate bill, SB 1657. Senator Hinojosa is Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committe, and is a member of the Legislative Budget Board. * On March 9th our legislation was designated as House Bill 2611, and it is being sponsored by Dist. 31 Rep. Ryan Guillen. *