Governor makes final decisions on bills passed by Legislature

State Capital Highlights

Governor Greg Abbott on June 20 completed the task of reviewing all bills that were passed by the Texas Legislature. He had until midnight on June 21 to get the job done.

Of the 6,276 bills filed by the House and Senate during the Legislature’s 84th regular session that ended June 1, some 1,323 were passed by both bodies and therefore earned a trip to the governor’s office for final scrutiny. Of those bills, Abbott signed 1,202 into law, let 162 become law without his signature and vetoed 41.

Preliminary findings released

Questions about earthquakes in a zone where oil and gas exploration is widespread brought together state agency personnel, researchers and industry representatives in a June 5 meeting on a study titled, “Causal Factors for Seismicity Near Azle, Texas.”

Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, on June 18 released a summary based on information presented at the meeting.

Three of seven “key findings” by the researchers were these:

1. Hydraulic fracturing was not a cause of these earthquakes, and that this is a common misconception in the public and media that should be resolved.

2. The vast majority of disposal wells do not have associated seismicity, but disposal wells in close proximity to critically stressed faults could change pore pressure and reduce effective stress, resulting in seismicity if faults are oriented in a particular way.

3. The researchers stated that their work is ongoing and that better data could enhance their modeling and research.

Abbott expands declaration

On June 18, Gov. Abbott added 24 more counties to his disaster declaration related to widespread severe weather, tornadoes and flooding events that started May 4. The addition of those counties increased the total number of counties named in the declaration to 104.

“The use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster” are authorized by the disaster declaration. More counties may be added as the situation develops, according to the Governor’s Office.

Fifth Circuit rejects appeal

The New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals on June 19 rejected a motion by plaintiffs to stop the abortion law revised by the Texas Legislature from taking effect.

Plaintiffs, the operators of several women’s health clinics that provide abortions under strict guidelines, have an emergency appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Unemployment edges higher

Texas Workforce Commission on June 19 announced the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.3 percent in the month of May from the 4.2 percent recorded for the month of April.

Still, Texas gained 33,200 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in May bringing the over-theyear total to 286,400 jobs added.

Ronny Congleton, the agency’s commissioner representing labor, said Texas now has 13 million workers.

Notably, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics calculated the nation’s unemployment rate at 5.5 percent for the month of May.

Scorecard compares Texas

State Comptroller Glenn Hegar on June 16 announced his office’s launch of an Internetbased way to compare Texas to other states in key areas.

The scorecard, he said, “takes a balanced look at Texas and paints a mostly positive picture.” However, he suggested, there are “challenges the state needs to address. For example, the scorecard shows Texas has some of the nation’s highest local debt, has a population in which 10 percent of households have no bank account and has the second-highest percentage of residents above the age of 25 who lack a high school diploma.”

Texans who have access to the Internet may visit and click their way to the scorecard and its contents.

Governor names SBOE chair

Gov. Abbott on June 18 nominated Donna Bahorich of Houston to succeed Barbara Cargill as chair of the 15-member State Board of Education.

Bahorich lists on her resume service as district director and communications director for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when he was a state senator.

Bahorich’s appointment as SBOE chair is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

ED STERLING is the Director of Member Services at Texas Press Association.

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