Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond testified in the ongoing school finance trial yesterday, saying that Texas businesses can’t find applicants that have the academic and professional skills required. Hammond says that the most educated segment of Texas’ workforce is the soon-to-be retired.
She says, right now, Texas provides one pool of funding for beds for two main categories of people in need of mental health services: those unable to make sound decisions and those detained for mental evaluation after a crime.
The state of Texas launched its Women’s Health Program this week. Texas is funding the program on its own because the federal government pulled money after the state blocked Planned Parenthood from participating.
The Texas version still serves low income women who would qualify for Medicaid if they became pregnant. It will cover about 110,000 women between 18 and 44 years old with free well-woman exams, basic health and certain family planning services.
Fish is routinely held up as a healthy alternative to other meats. But some experts might urge you to rethink the catch-of-the-day, because of what else might be lurking on the plate.
The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs heard testimony this morning about the condition of the state’s seafood industry. The Catfish Institute's Jeff McCord testified that he was concerned about importing fish to Texas.
Most of the catfish found in restaurants is imported from China. McCord says China doesn’t have the same kind of regulations the U.S. does, so banned substances can easily enter the food supply. A group of chemicals called nitrofurans is on this list. Fish farmers use them to rid the water of certain microbes, but they’re mostly banned by the FDA. “It’s been shown to cause cancer,” McCord says, “and it also disrupts human cell reproduction.”
The project will close a 1.1-mile gap in the trail. The boardwalk will be over land and over the lake. Construction could be done by early 2014.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell, city officials and Trail Foundation officials will take part in today's groundbreaking. The ceremony will take place at International Shores Park near the trail. The Austin Fire Department will shoot off celebratory water cannons at the park to commemorate the project’s launch.
The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures met Wednesday to take a look at streamlining the alcoholic licensing and permitting process.
According to the Texas Tribune, interim Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) director Sherry Cooke told the committee that her agency wants to consolidate the processes for beer and liquor licenses.
The issue is that there are two separate processes for receiving a beer license and liquor licenses. Some of the applications for those permits can be processed through TABC, but others have to involve county courts.
Texas agencies have their marching orders as they put together budget requests for the 2013 Legislative Session.
Monday the Legislative Budget Board sent instructions to agency heads letting them know budget deliberations in 2013 would start at the same amount of money each agency was given in the current budget. Each agency is also required to turn in a separate budget request reflecting a 10 percent cut over the the two year budget.
Governor Rick Perry is calling on state lawmakers to cut spending and keep taxes level in the state’s next budget. Perry unveiled details of the “Texas Budget Compact” in Houston today.
“By keeping this tight rein on spending, we can build a more solid, predictable economy that doesn’t put off tough decisions until, in some cases, it’s too late to deal with them,” Gov. Perry told the crowd in Houston. In details noted on the Governor’s website, Perry also called to “preserve a strong Rainy Day Fund” and “cut unnecessary and duplicative government programs and agencies.”
In the battle between state leaders and the Obama administration over Texas’ decision to oust health care providers affiliated with abortion clinics from a five-year-old contraception and cancer-screening program, both sides believe they are the victims.
The Obama administration says Texas is violating federal law by limiting where poor women can seek health care, and it announced last week that it was cutting off financing for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which does not pay for abortions and received $9 in federal financing for every $1 the state contributed.
Earlier today, KUT News reported the Department of Justice has refused to preclear Texas' voter ID law, arguing it would disproportionately impact Latino and Hispanic voters. Here's a roundup of lawmakers' reaction to the decision.
Gov. Rick Perry
"Texas has a responsibility to ensure elections are fair, beyond reproach and accurately reflect the will of voters. The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane. Their denial is yet another example of the Obama Administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach."
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to clear Texas’ voter ID requirements, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011.
The state and the DOJ have been at odds over the issue for months, with the feds requesting additional information to ascertain whether the law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.
Texas is one of the Southern states covered under the Voting Rights Act; Section 5 of the act requires the DOJ to “pre-clear” any electoral changes states make that might impact minority voters.
The state’s Hispanic population is blooming, and its black population grew faster than its Anglo population. But Anglos still dominate the political maps, and Latinos dominate the part of the political maps controlled by minorities.
When the Legislature drew political lines, minority groups were in widespread agreement that the maps didn’t reflect the growth — there were not enough seats where minority voters had the ability to decide elections.
Texas outgrew the other states in the country, so much so that it added four seats to the 32 already in its congressional delegation.
A Texas initiative to fight Alzheimer’s disease was announced today, featuring some familiar faces.
The Darrell K Royal Fund for Alzheimer’s Research was unveiled today at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Alzheimer's Disease at the Texas Capitol. On hand was former Longhorns coach Royal and his wife Edith Royal, flanked by Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and actor Matthew McConaughey.
The idea behind the Royal Fund is to kickstart Alzheimer’s research in the state. A press release characterizes the fund as “a vehicle that funds collaborative research in Texas, and promotes sharing of discoveries and treatment strategies nationwide.”
The Associated Press reports the Supreme Court has dismissed the map of Texas electoral districts redrawn by a court in San Antonio. The districts were reworked by the San Antonio court amid complaints an earlier map drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 created gerrymandered districts and didn’t allow minority voters the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.
Gov. Rick Perry has opened a whole new realm of campaign finance.
Perry is taking advantage of a wrinkle in state law that allows a state officeholder to collect a pension while also collecting a paycheck. For the governor, that’s a $92,376 annual pension on top of a $150,000 annual salary.
Old news, too, so let’s move on to 2014, and how this figures into that year’s elections. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is running for Senate, and a number of his political colleagues figure his state job will be open in 2014 whether or not he wins in 2012. Four or five current state officials are talking openly or semi-openly about that race, sniffing around for support and letting the money people around the state know they’re interested.
A humbled Rep. Joe Driver, the Garland Republican who illegally pocketed state travel money, pleaded guilty to felony abuse-of-office charges Tuesday and agreed to five years' probation.
As part of his plea agreement, Driver will get five years deferred adjudication, avoiding jail time as long as he doesn't violate the terms of his probation. After spending about an hour at the Travis County Courthouse waiting to enter his plea, Driver made a brief statement to reporters.
“Basically, my family and I are thankful that this has been resolved,” Driver said. The longtime lawmaker’s attorney, Dan Guthrie, said Driver may have more to say after his sentencing on Dec. 19.
Over the last few days there have been reports of campaign phone calls being made to voters in Dallas and San Antonio telling Republicans the "Christian" thing to do would be to elect a new speaker. Supporters of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) say the calls are anti-Semitic...since the speaker is Jewish.
This afternoon speaker candidates Ken Paxton (R-McKenny) and Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) released a statements rejecting the idea that faith has anything to do with the race. You can read Chisum's statement below.