NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

Governor demands action, calls lawmakers back to Austin

by | Jun 14, 2017 | Opinion

By Ed Sterling

Director of Member Services for the Texas Press Association

 

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on June 6 announced a special session of the Texas Legislature to begin on July 18 to address issues that went unresolved during the contentious 140-day regular session that ended May 29.

Abbott explained why he thinks it necessary to order lawmakers back to Austin. “Considering all the successes of the 85th legislative session, we should not be where we are today,” he said. “A special session was entirely avoidable and there was plenty of time for the legislature to forge compromises to avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session. As governor, if I am going to call a special session, I intend to make it count,” he added.

Special session agenda items Abbott named for lawmakers to address will begin with sunset legislation — bills on the continuation or abolishment of certain state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board.

Once the sunset legislation meets the governor’s expectations, he said, the rest of the items on lawmakers’ to-do list would be as follows:

– Teacher pay increase of $1,000;

– Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices;

– School finance reform commission;

– School choice for special needs students;

– Property tax reform;

– Caps on state and local spending;

– Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land;

– Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects;

– Speeding up local government permitting process; and

– Municipal annexation reform.

Also:

– Texting while driving preemption;

– Privacy;

– Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues;

– Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers;

– Pro-life insurance reform;

– Strengthening abortion-reporting requirements when health complications arise;

– Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders;

– Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud; and

– Extending maternal mortality task force.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, reacted to the governor’s announcement with a Twitter social media posting: “The people of Texas have a right to expect that we will finish the job on these critical issues.”

House Speaker Joe Straus did not react, but during the regular session he and Patrick disagreed over the so-called “bathroom bill” addressing the treatment of transgender students and property tax reform. Both items are on the special session call, with the bathroom bill referred to as “privacy.”

Paxton applauds decision 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on June 6 announced his support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to give states more time to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard, an ozone regulation issued in 2015. Texas has a pending lawsuit contesting the rule.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to governors informing them that the Clean Air Act enforcing federal agency is extending the deadline for promulgating initial area designations for the standards by one year.

Since 1980, wrote Pruitt, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants have dropped by 63 percent and ozone levels have declined by 33 percent. Despite the continued improvement of air quality, costs associated with compliance of the ozone NAAQS have significantly increased.

“Texas has continually reduced ambient ozone concentrations in the state without stifling the growth of Texas’s industry or population, and looks forward to continuing efforts to improve air quality while bolstering the Texas economy,” Paxton said.

Hegar distributes revenue

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on June 7 announced his office would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $640 million in local sales tax allocations for June, an amount 3.6 percent more than in June 2016.

Allocations are based on sales made in April by businesses that report tax monthly.

The cities of Round Rock, Frisco, San Antonio, Midland and Odessa saw noticeable increases in sales tax allocations, Hegar said. The cities of Houston and Austin saw small decreases, he added.

Hurricane readiness begins

Hurricane season began June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management on June 5 brought together personnel from more than two dozen state and federal agencies at the Texas State Operations Center in Austin for a weeklong hurricane exercise.

Dubbed Hurricane Charlie, the exercise was conducted “to bolster our preparedness efforts for this year’s hurricane season,” said Nim Kidd, chief of the division. “Early preparation is critical to saving lives when a hurricane or severe weather occurs, so we are asking the public to do just that — get ready now.”

For more information, visit www.texasprepares.org.

For more stories like this subscribe to our print or e-edition.

Subscribe RH Love

0 Comments

Order photos

Related News

Additional disaster assistance approved

Additional disaster assistance approved

Seven Texas counties have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for grants for emergency work and replacement of disaster-damaged public infrastructure, after severe weather and flooding struck much of Deep East Texas, Gov. Gregg Abbott’s office...

read more
Laundry: There’s more than one way to fold

Laundry: There’s more than one way to fold

You would think that there’s only one way to fold towels. But, you’d be wrong. Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, my momma showed me how to fold them, as well as shirts, socks, underpants, and other personal sundries. I assumed that this skillset would carry me all the...

read more
The Lawn Moore

The Lawn Moore

America really is The Land of Opportunity. Even if there’s only one opportunity, and that opportunity is cutting the grass.  Ashdown, Arkansas, was a pretty typical small American town in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kids weren’t just handed things. If we wanted...

read more
A myth understanding

A myth understanding

In the South, we believed with all of our hearts what we were told when we were children. Even if it was wrong. In the 1960s, the RCA color console TV my family had on Beech Street in Ashdown, Arkansas, could make you go blind. It could if you believed what our mom...

read more
On the road again and again

On the road again and again

Back in the 60s, some American college kids protested the Vietnam War, but mostly, they conducted sit-ins. Few protests were violent. Other American college kids would have contests to see how many of them they could cram into a Volkswagen. Today, some college kids...

read more
Aisle be seeing you

Aisle be seeing you

As a child growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, we had two main grocery stores. Shur-Way and Piggly Wiggly. Or as my dad called it, “Hoggly Woggly.” A trip to the store was like each TV commercial had come to life. Advertising agencies at the time were very good at what...

read more
‘Aggressive’ hurricane forecast for Gulf Coast

‘Aggressive’ hurricane forecast for Gulf Coast

Colorado State University researchers are calling this year’s hurricane season forecast “the most aggressive” ever, the Texas Standard reported. They say there is a 54% chance a hurricane will strike the Texas coast, and a 25% chance it will be major. Justin Ballard,...

read more
Fixer Uppers

Fixer Uppers

Recently, I saw something I haven’t seen in many years. A young man driving a car he was fixing up. It was an older Mustang. By older I mean a 90’s model. The car had spots of primer, there were a few dents, and the exhaust system appeared to be loose. By John Moore...

read more
Solar eclipse means big money to Texas

Solar eclipse means big money to Texas

One economist is calling it “the most profitable 22 minutes in Texas history,” according to the Texas Standard. The total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 is expected to draw up to a million visitors to the Lone Star State, especially in its narrow path of totality....

read more
Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that six of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the United States from 2022 to 2023 were in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, Kaufman County, just east of Dallas, led the list with a 7.6% increase in new...

read more
Order photos