AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott last week reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear Texas and 25 other states’ challenge to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
On November 14, Perry said the court’s decision to hear the case “is encouraging news for Texas.” And, Perry said, the act would cost Texas taxpayers “more than $27 billion over 10 years for the Medicaid expansion starting in 2014.”
Also on November 14, Abbott said, “With the Supreme Court’s decision to hear our challenge to ‘ObamaCare’ the federal health care law is closer to an end.”
Abbott, pointing to rulings by a federal district court and a U.S. circuit court of appeals, said, “government exceeded the constitutional limits of its authority by requiring all Americans to buy government-approved health insurance.”
Oral arguments are to be heard by March and a decision by the high court would be rendered in June.
Formula 1 project put on hold
Rights-holders, investors, developers and promoters long have sought to bring European-style Formula 1 car racing to Texas, with the first race to be run in 2013.
Recently however, because of financial disagreements among the interested parties, funding became uncertain and construction of a racing facility — under way for nearly a year near Austin-Bergstrom Airport — stopped last week.
State Comptroller Susan Combs issued a statement on November 15, saying the state of Texas has not paid out any money for the project and “will not be paying any funds in advance” of an actual running of a Formula 1 event at the track.
If funding comes from the state, it would be from the Major Events Trust Fund created by the Legislature in 2003. Sales, hotel, beverage and other tax revenue fuel the fund which has been tapped for events such as NFL Superbowl XLV and the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four tournaments.
Combs and Gov. Perry have spoken in support of the track.
Removed: unsafe vehicles, drivers
Figures presented by DPS Director Steve McCraw at a November 17 meeting of the state Public Safety Commission show that Texas Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service personnel and Highway Patrol troopers have inspected 331,505 commercial vehicles since January 1.
Of those, the Department of Public Safety removed from Texas roads 66,189 commercial vehicles and 12,301 commercial vehicle drivers deemed “unsafe.”
Mistake in license plate law
Last May, the Texas Legislature passed a 234-page bill amending state laws concerning motor vehicle violations.
Omitted from the bill was language that set a fine for driving a motor vehicle without license. Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, the author of the bill, HB 2357, asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office if the current $200 fine for driving a vehicle without license plates would remain in effect despite the missing language.
The law is scheduled to take effect on January 1.
Madden won’t seek reelection
State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, announced November 14 he will not seek reelection to the Texas House.
First elected to the Texas Legislature in November 1992 and now in his 10th term, Madden serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Corrections and as a member of the House Committees on Redistricting and Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence.
Unemployment rate improves
The Texas Workforce Commission on Nov. 16 reported the state’s jobless rate for the month of October had decreased to 8.4 percent, a 0.1 percent improvement. For the month, Texas added 13,500 private-sector jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor reported the national unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in October.
Report: Texas tops in low wages
According to a Nov. 12 special report to the Austin American-Statesman, more than 500,000 workers in Texas make the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or less, and that ties the Lone Star State with Mississippi as the states with the highest proportion of low-wage jobs: 10 percent.
The report, contributed by F. Scott McCown and Frances Deviney of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, says Texas’ young labor force, a less well-educated labor force and a low cost of living are reasons for the high number of low-wage jobs.
Board rejects Rebel flag plate
A proposal to offer a vanity license plate containing the image of a Confederate battle flag was rejected on a unanimous vote by the board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles on November 10.