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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Most Texas schools submit safety audits
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 • Posted December 30, 2012

AUSTIN --- The Texas Education Code requires that Texas public schools conduct safety audits once every three years.

According to a Dec. 17 news release produced by the state attorney general’s office, the Texas School Safety Center reported that of the 1,025 public school districts that are required by law to submit their safety audits, 38 did not do so and another 40 reported but did not meet full compliance.

Attorney General Greg Abbott urged school districts to review their safety plans and implored districts that have not submitted their complete school safety audits to make doing so a priority.

“Proper preparedness and safety in our schools is not just an exercise, it will save lives when seconds count,” said Attorney General Abbott, a board member of the Texas School Safety Center. “As we all mourn the horrific loss of innocent lives in Newtown (Conn.) we must ensure that not another minute passes where Texas school districts are unprepared for an incident in our own state. My office will continue working with the Texas School Safety Center to ensure that every school district across this state has an effective school safety plan in place.”

Abbott encourages students, parents and school staff to report alarming behavior to authorities.

Silence observed Dec. 21

Gov. Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, to coincide with the Day of Mourning called by Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy in memory of the 26 victims of last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Perry encouraged places of worship and buildings that are able to ring bells 26 times to honor each life that was lost.

Presidential electors vote

Texas Presidential Electors met Dec. 17 to cast their Electoral College votes for the 2012 election of president and vice president of the United States. Texas’ 38 electoral votes were cast for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and his vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

In announcing the outcome of the vote, Secretary of State John Steen, Texas’ chief elections officer, noted (1) that political parties choose their respective sets of electors in accordance with state law and each party’s rules; (2) electoral votes are allocated to states based on the most recent census; and (3) only California has more electoral votes, at 55, than Texas.

DWI patrols increase

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Dec. 14 announced that DWI patrols would be increased from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1.

Troopers will focus on high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.

“Drinking and driving are always a concern during holidays, and there is no doubt that increased enforcement by DPS and other law enforcement will help save lives,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw, who reminded Texans never get in a car with an intoxicated driver.

In the enforcement effort a year ago, state troopers made more than 1,100 DWI arrests, 15,000 speeding citations, 2,000 seat belt/child safety seat citations and 18,000 other citations.

Hikes planned for Jan. 1

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Dec. 13 promoted the second annual First Day Hikes program. It’s part of a national effort to get people outdoors and promote the numerous physical and emotional benefits of hiking. On New Year’s Day, the state parks agency has planned hikes to be guided by state park staff or expert volunteers, featuring information about native plants, animals or park history. For more information, visit texasstateparks.org/firstdayhikes.

Site addresses obesity

Legislation passed in 2011 instructed the comptroller’s office “to build a Web portal to collect research and information on the economic effects of obesity and areas in which children are at risk.”

Comptroller Susan Combs on Dec. 20 announced the launch of ReshapingTexas.org, “a resource that examines the economic impacts of obesity and identifies areas in the state where children are at risk.” More than one in five Texas children, ages 10 to 17, are obese, and obesity puts millions of Texans at risk for chronic disease, Combs said.

Jobless rate falls again

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar on Dec. 21 reported the Texas unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in November. The unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in October and 7.3 percent a year ago.

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