NEWS IN STATE GOVERNMENT
Governor Abbott Sets Date for Special Runoff Elections in Texas: Governor Greg Abbott issued proclamations setting Tuesday, January 28, 2020 as the date for special runoff elections to fill three vacant Texas House District seats. The early voting period for these runoff elections will begin Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Those 3 seats are HD 28, HD 100 and HD 148. Click here to read more.
Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Erin Bennett as the Director of the Regulatory Compliance Division: Term set to expire on February 1, 2021. Established by SB 1995 during the 86th Legislative Session, the Regulatory Compliance Division is a new division that will review rules affecting market competition proposed by state licensing agencies. Click here to read more about this and other gubernatorial-appointments made this week.
AG Paxton Recovers $63.5 Million for State of Texas, U.S. Medicaid Program: The agreement resolves the state’s lawsuit under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act (TMFPA) against Lupin for reporting inflated drug prices to the Medicaid program. Under the agreement, Lupin will pay more than $63 million to Texas and the federal government to resolve the claims against it. Click here to read more.
General Land Office:
Cmr. George P. Bush Releases Plan for More than $4 Billion in Mitigation Funds for Texas: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the release of the state’s action plan detailing the distribution and eligible uses of $4,297,189,000 in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist Texas communities with mitigation projects. Click here to read more.
RRC Commissioners Assess Nearly $1 Million in Penalties: The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $945,939 in fines involving 457 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ conference this week. Click here to read more.
Fiscal Notes: Occupational Licensing in Texas: In the November edition of Fiscal Notes, released recently, the Comptroller’s office looks at occupational licensing in Texas. Despite the state’s reputation for business friendliness, some of Texas’ licensing requirements have been seen as unnecessarily burdensome, leading the Legislature to abolish many license types and ease requirements for others. Click here to read more.
Texas Agriculture Memorial Day Honors the Lives And Sacrifices Made by Farmers and Ranchers: On Thursday, November 21, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Texas Department of Agriculture hosted the fourth Annual Texas Agriculture Memorial Day at the State Capitol in Austin. Click here to read more.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $888,868: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved penalties totaling $888,868 against 17 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Click here to read more.
PUC Imposes $35K in Penalties and Refunds for 7,610 Customers: The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a settlement agreement, ordering the payment of $35,000 in administrative penalties and ordering refunds to 7,610 customers. The Commission also revoked a certificate of convenience and necessity for a water utility. Click here to read more.
The Top Five Legal Barriers to Carbon Capture and Sequestration In Texas: Texas holds the best position in the U.S. to lead in carbon capture and storage. The U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency have identified carbon capture, utilization and storage, or CCUS, as having the potential to play a critical role in reducing global CO2 emissions, and Congress recently expanded a tax credit intended to spur more sequestration projects. Click here to read the full Forbes article.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Heart Scare Contributes to New Senate Focus on Heart Health: Patrick now calls himself a heart health evangelist.He has charged the upper chamber’s Health and Human Services Committee with gathering information and analyzing costs associated with heart disease and stroke in Texas. Click here to read the full KXAN news story.
Texas Official Warns Health Insurers: Anti-Surprise Bill Law Will Mean Big Changes: Texas Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan is warning health insurers to expect big changes from a new state law that allows patients stung by surprise medical bills to pull doctors and health care facilities into a formal dispute resolution process. Click here to read the full San Antonio Express News article.
In Key Vote, Federal Regulators OK Controversial South Texas Gas Export Facilities: A coalition of residents and indigenous and environmental groups has rallied against a trio of proposed terminals to export liquefied natural gas from the Port of Brownsville. Thursday’s vote puts the terminals closer to final approval. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Trump EPA Eases Safety Requirements Enacted After West Explosion: Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the new rules, saying they would make Texans safer. The Obama-era regulation was meant to improve chemical safety practices and prevent tragedies like the deadly 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in the tiny Central Texas town of West. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune work.
Dan Patrick: What’s Really Going on at the Legislative Budget Board: Click here to read Lt. Dan Patrick’s editorial in response, from last week, to an article printed by the Caller Times regarding “letting the Legislative Budget Board fall apart”.
It’s Not Just Farmers-U.S. Exports May Never Recover from the Trade War: The Trump administration’s trade war is ravaging exports to China across the U.S. and well beyond the farm belt, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show. Click here to read the Houston Chronicle article.
Texas Innovation Beats Silicon Valley in Many Ways, Except One: The problem with comparing innovation between Texas and Silicon Valley is that everybody in Silicon Valley is moving to Texas. Click here to read the full Dallas Morning News article.
As Oil Prices Drop and Money Dries Up, is the U.S. Shale Boom Going Bust?: The shale oil boom that catapulted the U.S. into being the world’s largest oil producer may be going bust. Oil prices are dropping amid weakening demand, bankruptcies and layoffs are up, and drilling is down — signs of a crisis that’s quietly roiling the industry. Click here to read the full NPR article.
Land Affected by Keystone pipeline leak bigger than thought: A crude oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in eastern North Dakota has turned out to have affected almost 10 times the amount of land as first reported, a state regulator said Monday. Click here to read the full Associated Press article.
Why is California Approving so Many New Oil Wells?: As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018. Click here to read the full City Lab article.
Trump Wants Insurers and Hospitals to Show Real Prices to Patients: President Trump has made price transparency a centerpiece of his health care agenda. Last Friday he announced two regulatory changes in a bid to provide more easy-to-read price information to patients. Click here to read the full KUT/NPR article.