NEWS IN STATE GOVERNMENT
Click here to read about this week’s gubernatorial-appointments: including to the School Land Board and Texas State Technical College System Board of Regents.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Challenges Bush Characterization of Alamo Redesign Plan Opponents: The statement begins ““My office received the most recent report on the Alamo renovation from the General Land Office (GLO) last night as meetings continue to move forward on the Alamo redesign in San Antonio. …“. Click here to read the full statement.
AG Paxton: Statement on UK’s Assessment of Google in Competition and Markets Authority Report: The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released their Online Platforms and Digital Advertising Market Study Interim Report, which assesses the market power of Google and other online platforms. Attorney General Ken Paxton gave a statement. Click here to read that statement.
Natural Resources: More Mussels, More Questions: In the debut edition of its Natural Resources newsletter, the Texas Comptroller’s office reveals the discovery of rare, state-protected freshwater mussels within the jurisdiction of the Lower Neches Valley Authority in southeast Texas. Click here to read more.
General Land Office:
Final Reminder: Submission of Applications for GLO Disaster Assistance Programs Needed by Dec. 31, 2019: The Texas General Land Office’s (GLO) is encouraging potential applicants for the Homeowner Assistance Program and Homeowner Reimbursement Program to finalize and submit draft applications before the December 31, 2019, deadline. Click here to read more.
Cmr. Bush Announces More than $5M Combined for Infrastructure Projects in Harvey-Affected Areas: Newly approved funds going to Brookshire, Eagle Lake, Ganado, Hitchcock, Holiday Lakes, La Ward, Liverpool, New Waverly, Wallis, Woodloch, and Bee, Fayette, and Karnes Counties. Click here to read more.
Public Utility Commission:
Public Utility Commission Issues Call for Appraisers: The PUC issued a call for appraisers to consider joining the agency’s pool of Utility Valuation Experts, composed of who will determine the fair market value of water and sewer retail public utilities and facilities when being acquired by an investor-owned utility with 2,300 or more connections. Click here to read more.
PUC Imposes $145,000 in Penalties; Approves Mitigation Plan with Generator: The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a settlement agreement, ordering the payment of $145,000 in administrative penalties. The Commission also approved a mitigation plan for a generator. Click here to read more.
RRC Assesses More than $10.7 Million in Fines in 2019: The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $10,799,103 in fines on 4,232 enforcement dockets involving the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety for calendar year 2019. Click here to read more.
Railroad Commission of Texas Presents 2019 Year in Review: The Railroad Commission of Texas released its 2019 Year in Review. The Year in Review outlines the Commission’s successes in achieving the highest standard of service by modernizing processes, enhancing transparency and exceeding performance expectations. Click here to read more.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $851,367: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $560,874 against 46 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Click here to read more.
Health and Human Services:
GLO Seeks Input on $4B in HUD Funds Slated for Flood Mitigation: With Texas slated to receive just over $4 billion to fund flood mitigation projects, representatives from the Texas General Land Office have been holding hearings across the state seeking public input on how best to use the money. Click here to read the full Monitor article.
Battery Storage on Verge of Changing Texas Power Grid: Texas is carving out a leadership position in adopting large-scale battery storage as battery prices fall, technology improves and electricity demand grows, potentially paving the way for renewable power to dominate the state’s energy mix. Click here to read the full Houston Chronicle article.
Shale Slowdown Takes Economic Toll: MIDLAND, Texas — America’s hottest oil-drilling regions—such as this one at the heart of the Permian Basin — are seeing their economies soften as shale producers slash spending, leading to emptier hotels, choosier employers and less overtime for workers. Click here to read the full Wall Street Journal article.
Texas Faces Labor Shortage of Solar Installers: Solar installation companies are reporting difficulty finding enough qualified installation technicians in Texas, according to a report by the research firm Wood Mackenzie and the trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association. One of the complicating factors is that Texas regulations require electricians to be on site when solar systems are installed. Click here to read the full Houston Chronicle article.
The Top Company in Texas’ Birthplace of Shale Exits for $770M: The birthplace of the shale industry is losing the last of its top industry players after Devon Energy agreed to sell its remaining position in the Barnett shale for $770 million. Subscribers can click here to read the full Houston Chronicle article.
Tobacco and Alcohol:
Students Face Felony Charges, Expulsions as Texas Schools Ramp up Fight Against Vaping: Caught off guard by the increase in teen vaping, schools are grasping every tool at hand, including expulsions and suspensions. In some districts, students can face harsh discipline and jail time for having a vape pen in their backpack. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
GOP Lawmakers Scramble in Strategy Redesign with Democrats Poised for 2020 Water Wall Ride: The Republican primary warring that raged for 10 years on the Texas House battlefield has subsided substantially with the GOP staging about one-third as many competitive fights in round one in 2020 as the ruling party did here last year. Click here to read the full Dallas Morning News article and view contest ratings as well as a full list of Texas House candidates.
Major Firms Open Wallets for Carbon-Tax Group: A group pushing a carbon tax plan among Republicans is getting new support from a handful of big companies. Utilities Vistra Energy Corp. and Calpine Corp., automakers General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., and technology giant IBM are pledging contributions to Americans for Carbon Dividends, the advocacy arm of the Climate Leadership Council, the groups announced. Click here to read the full E & E News article.
What Happens Next in the Impeachment Process: President Trump entered a new category on Wednesday. He is the third President in history to have been impeached. Click here to read the full Washington Post article and see how the vote tally turned out as well as what’s next.
U.S. House Passes Replacement for North American Free Trade Agreement: Many Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged the agreement’s passage, due to the state’s reliance on cross-border commerce with Mexico. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Biodiesel and Wind Tax Credits Extended, as Congress Prepares to Vote on Spending: The future of federal support for several burgeoning energy technologies fell into doubt Monday as Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to reach agreement on maintaining and expanding subsidies for biofuels, electric vehicles and renewables. Click here to read the full Houston Chronicle article.
Deepwater Gulf Enters Next Phase of Growth: For the first time since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy of a decade ago, the British oil major BP will ship a major oil platform to the Gulf of Mexico, where it will operate in some 4,500 feet of water nearly 200 miles south of New Orleans. Click here to read the full Houston Chronicle article.
Congress is Poised to Finally Fix Tax Glitch That Burdened Families of Fallen Service Members: It took a 2,300-page, $1.4 trillion legislative package that has to be passed by the end of the week in order to prevent a government shutdown. But Congress is poised to finally rectify a mistake that inadvertently raised taxes on families of fallen service members. Click here to read the full Dallas Morning News article.