AUSTIN — Battles over redistricting may have put Texas’ 2012 election cycle in an apparent state of suspended animation, but movement on a related subject occurred last week.
The Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas on December 16 issued a statement announcing that the two parties submitted a joint agreed proposal on the 2012 General Primary Election to the U.S. District Court three-judge panel in San Antonio. And, later the same day, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia signed into effect the proposed agreement. The agreement provides for an April 3 unified primary date, along with adjusted dates, deadlines and requirements in respect to its administration. One of those dates was 6:00 p.m. December 19, the deadline for candidates to submit an application for a party primary ballot.
In an official statement, Steve Munisteri, state chair of the Republican Party of Texas, said, “We are hopeful that with both a timely ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court and subsequent finalized maps, that this agreement not only preserves the original structure of a unified primary, but provides us enough time to accomplish it in a fair and orderly fashion.”
In his official statement, Boyd Richie, state chair of the Texas Democratic Party said, “We’re glad to have worked out an agreement which we feel works best for Texans. Given the less than ideal circumstances, we think that this election schedule is a workable solution that will create the least confusion for the voters. We’re pleased that the agreement maintains a unified primary which will save taxpayers money.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has set January 9 as the hearing date of arguments on merits for parties to the pending redistricting lawsuits.
Order expanded, extended
Gov. Rick Perry on December 14 announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency expanded its disaster declaration for wildfire assistance to include 119 Texas counties and extended the incident period from April 6, 2011, through August 29, 2011.
The term “incident period” is defined by FEMA as “the time span during which the disaster-causing incident occurs.” The original federal disaster declaration issued by FEMA on July 1, 2011, covered wildfires between April 6, 2011, and May 3, 2011, and only included 45 counties.
The governor's initial statewide disaster proclamation was issued on December 21, 2010. Since then, the governor’s office stated, responders have fought more than 26,000 fires that have burned more than 3.9 million acres, and state and local response costs are estimated at more than $330 million.
Texas cities score high
On December 16, the governor’s office touted Texas as dominating a newly released index of “best-performing cities” in the nation.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute’s annual index put Texas cities in four of the top five spots and nine of the top 25 “thanks to the state’s healthy economy and robust job creation climate,” the governor’s office said.
The Milken Institute said it measured job, wage and technology performance over a five-year period to determine the best-performing cities, and the study found that Texas employers were responsible for one of every five jobs created in the nation from June 2010 to June 2011.
San Antonio was the top performer among the nation’s 200 best-performing large metros and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown ranked number one among the 10 largest metros.
According to Milken Institute, “the study attributes Texas’ success to having a favorable business climate, low business costs, renewed trade with Mexico and South America, and ongoing energy exploration and alternative fuels research.”
After San Antonio’s first-place finish, the following Texas cities placed in the top 25 metropolitan areas in the study: El Paso, 2; Austin-Round Rock, 3; Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, 5; Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, 16; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 18; Dallas-Plano-Irving, 20; Fort Worth-Arlington, 24; and Lubbock, 25.
‘Frac’ ingredients to be posted
Texas Railroad Commission members on Dec. 13 adopted a rule requiring Texas oil and gas operators to disclose on a national public website (www.fracfocus.org) the chemical ingredients and water volumes used to hydraulically fracture wells in Texas.
The agency’s hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rule will be required for wells that the Railroad Commission has issued an initial drilling permit on or after February 1, 2012.
Before the rule passed, Texas operators conducting hydraulic fracturing were voluntarily entering chemical data into the fracfocus.org website for about half of all wells in Texas undergoing hydraulic fracturing, the agency reported.