Ed Sterling

State shows largest numerical population gain

State Capital Highlights

Texas stands to gain two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after results of the 2020 census released last week show the state had the largest numerical gain of any state since the 2010 census. The population increased by nearly 4 million in the past decade, to 29.14 million. That’s a population increase of 15.9% in 10 years—third highest […]

Health-care expansion defeated in House

State Capital Highlights

A bid to expand health coverage for low-income Texans failed in the Texas House last week, 80-68. State leaders have long opposed expanding the Medicaid program, which is largely funded by the federal government. The measure that failed last week would have allowed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to negotiate a funding agreement with the feds, called a […]

No government mandated vaccine passports in Texas

State Capital Highlights

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order last week banning state agencies, cities or counties from creating a “vaccine passport” requirement. In addition, organizations that receive public funds are prohibited from requiring consumers to prove they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. That includes businesses that receive money from the state in return for providing goods and services. However, nursing homes […]

State’s jobless rate still double record low

The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.8% in January, down a tick from December’s 6.9% rate but double the record low of 3.4% in May 2019. It is unclear what effect the mid-February winter storm had on employment, when power outages swept the state and many roads were impassable. We’ll find out next month. What is certain is that state […]

Mask mandate lifted; many entities continue to require them

State Capital Highlights

While Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted the statewide mandate to wear a mask in public and allowed all businesses to operate at full capacity, many businesses, schools and other entities say they will continue to require that masks be worn. Abbott issued the order last week, effective March 10 .“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas […]

Political fallout from winter storm continues

As Texans across the state continue to deal with the damage from the mid- February winter storm, so does the political fallout in Austin. So far, seven of the 16 board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have resigned. CEO Bill Magness defended ERCOT’s decision to order widespread blackouts while testifying before a joint hearing of two state […]

COVID-19 vaccine pace rises while statewide hospitalizations drop

State Capital Highlights

The number of people in Texas hospitalized with COVID-19 has declined more than 28 percent in the past month, according to the Texas Department of Health Services. As of Feb. 7, Texas hospitals were treating 9,957 COVID-19 patients, down from nearly 14,000 a month ago. The number of new cases in the past week was 123,239 — a 22 percent […]

New State Capital Highlights writer

State Capital Highlights

It’s an honor to take over writing “Capital Highlights” from two capable predecessors, Chris Cobler and Ed Sterling. They are tough acts to follow, but I’ll do my best. I echo what Chris wrote in his first piece last July. The need for providing reliable and accurate information is greater than ever, especially as we continue to fight a pandemic […]

Lawmakers start $7 billion away from target

State Capital Highlights

Texas House and Senate leaders appear to agree on their proposed budgets. Next, they just have to figure out how to cut $7.2 billion. Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, worked with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to propose a state budget of $119.7 billion in general funds. House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, proposed the same budget figure, indicating a […]

Observers welcome quiet opening to Legislature

State Capital Highlights

The Texas Legislature opened quietly, which delighted everyone after the violence inside the U.S. Capitol the previous week. At the Texas State Capitol, a variety of legislative agendas took center stage at the start of the 87th session, which will run 140 days. Gov. Greg Abbott’s goals include ensuring Texans have access to high-quality healthcare, improving public safety, getting Texans […]

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