AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican from Houston, last week announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat long held by retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas, whose term expires at the end of 2012.
Dewhurst, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2003, joins a field of Republicans who have filed as candidates who wish to succeed Hutchison, including former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, Railroad Commission Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and possibly more.
On July 18, Texas General Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson became the first to announce his candidacy for lieutenant governor in 2014.
With Dewhurst leaving, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, R-Pasadena, could step into the position when or if Dewhurst resigns, but Jackson is contemplating a run for a U.S. congressional seat.
Meanwhile, though rumors of a presidential candidacy for Gov. Rick Perry continue, the big object on the horizon for the governor is a prayer meeting titled “The Response” to be held in Houston on Aug. 6. Perry plans to participate in the event expected to draw thousands at Reliant Stadium, a multipurpose venue with a retractable roof and seating for 71,500 people.
Texas joins states in legal brief
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and officials from 20 other states on July 19 filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Mo. The brief, in the case of Kinder v. Geithner, supports a legal challenge filed by Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and four other plaintiffs. Similar challenges have been filed in other U.S. circuit courts of appeals.
According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the amicus brief challenges the constitutionality of the federal health care law over the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an extraordinary law that rests on unprecedented assertions of federal authority, pushing even the most expansive conception of the federal government’s constitutional powers past the breaking point.
“The federal government embraces a sweeping view of the Commerce Clause …that would imperil individual liberty, render Congress’s other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the States,” the brief states.
AG files redistricting papers
The Texas Attorney General’s Office on July 19 filed papers seeking preclearance for redistricting plans enacted by the Texas Legislature recently. In receipt of those papers are the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Along with the plans are documents and data submitted in support of the assertion that the Texas Legislature’s redistricting plan has satisfied requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Online products to debut
The Texas Education Agency last week announced educators soon will be able to select from 92 online products to supplement new or revised science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The State Board of Education approved materials on July 22, saying school districts may begin ordering this material as of Aug. 8 and, because the material is all electronic, it will be available for use when school opens.
Texas adds jobs in June
The Texas Workforce Commission on July 22 reported Texas’ total nonfarm employment increased by 32,000 jobs in June. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in June, up from 8.0 percent in May, the agency said.
Many arrested in holiday effort
Texas Highway Patrol troopers arrested 1,406 intoxicated drivers during a statewide July 4 holiday enforcement program that ran from June 27 through July 6, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported on July 18.
Sales tax holiday coming up
The state’s annual sales tax holiday is set for Aug. 19 – 21. On those days, shoppers will get break from state and local sales taxes on purchases of clothing, footwear, backpacks and school supplies priced at less than $100.
Oil, gas taxes bolster education
Texas Land Commissioner Patterson on July 18 pointed out that oil and gas exploration from West Texas’ Permanent School Fund lands “is earning the school kids of Texas more than ever in 2011.”
Private oil and gas companies pay for the right to explore on land owned by the state’s Permanent School Fund, which helps pay for the state’s share of K-12 education. The companies bid for the right to look for oil and gas on 6,971 acres. Quarterly lease sale results bring the year’s record total to $133.5 million.