As time runs out next week on the fourth special session, Gov. Greg Abbott said he will continue to fight for school choice, despite the Texas House once again decisively rejecting it when 21 Republicans largely from rural districts joined Democrats in stripping it from a $7.6 billion education bill. The Austin American-Statesman reported it is unclear what Abbott’s next move will be.
“I will continue advancing school choice in the Texas Legislature and at the ballot box and will maintain the fight for parent empowerment until all parents can choose the best education path for their child,” Abbott said. “I am in it to win it.”
However, Abbott has not said whether he will call a fifth special session. He has previously said that he would back primary opponents to those who rejected the voucher plan.
“I don’t know whether the Governor will call us back for a 5th special session or not,” State Rep. Cody Harris, R-Palestine, said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Either way, I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to provide much needed teacher pay raises, increased funding for our local schools, and parents with the opportunity to choose the system of education they believe is best for their child.”
The filing period for the March primary is underway and ends Dec. 11.
Widespread power outages possible this winter
The agency in charge of the state’s power grid is warning that Texas could face widespread power outages this winter if temperatures plunge below freezing for several days in a row, as occurred last year. ERCOT raised the alarm after canceling a plan to ask power plant operators to reactivate some closed natural gas and coal plants. It received few offers to do so, The Dallas Morning News reported.
ERCOT is predicting a 14.4% chance of rolling blackouts if the state experiences a severe cold snap such as occurred just before last Christmas. Those chances grow to 16.8% in January, according to the report.
“The resource mix that’s changing on the grid isn’t really helping to pick up the growing peaks in the winter,” ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas said in a recent interview. “That’s why there’s this growing risk profile that we need to deal with.”
After the February 2021 winter storm, the Legislature put in place weatherization standards for power plants and is conducting widespread inspections of power plants to make sure they are complying.
More than 800,000 Texas children lose health care
Of the 1.4 million Texans who have lost health coverage through either Medicaid of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, 58% — or 812,000 — are children, The News reported. This follows the end of pandemic-era continuous Medicaid renewals.
“We knew we were going to have problems, to be candid. I’m sorry we’re seeing the kind of numbers that we’re seeing,” said Steve Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. “This is going to really exacerbate the problems we already have with the uninsured in Texas.”
Nearly 70% of people who lost Medicaid coverage in Texas were booted off for procedural reasons, such as failing to return renewal packet requests. The state has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.
Texas leads nation in annual job growth again
The state again reached a record high nationally with 14.536 million Texans at work, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate held steady at 4.1%.
“The Texas economy continues to grow, and there are nearly 480,000 job listings for individuals with the right skills, which TWC can help provide,” TWC chairman Bryan Daniel said.
The latest report marks the 10th consecutive monthly increase in jobs, with the addition of 21,000 more Texans on payroll, TWC reported.
We’re number one! In feral hogs.
It likely comes as no surprise to rural residents, but even city dwellers are having their yards and gardens ravaged by feral hogs, which have been reported in 99.6% of Texas counties. The only exception thus far is El Paso County, according to new data from the University of Georgia.
Rounding out the top five in sightings of the invasive species are Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Feral hogs have a high fertility rate and can eat nearly anything.
Texas A&M researchers have found a warfarin-based toxicant that is effective in reducing the feral pig population, but it is not yet being widely used. Hunting and trapping remain the most highly used methods of eradication, but so far the hogs are winning the battle.
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