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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Panel gets Input on Population Influx at Border
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 • Posted July 11, 2014

AUSTIN — A U.S. House Homeland Security Committee field hearing titled, “Crisis on the Texas Border: Surge of Unaccompanied Minors,” was conducted in McAllen on July 3.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw was among those who testified. He said unaccompanied Central American children are continuing to make the journey to the United States through Texas in record numbers; and

- U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere are overwhelmed;

- Drug trafficking organizations are gaining power as a direct result of a porous border; and

- State troopers, agents and Texas Rangers are being deployed to the Rio Grande Valley “to conduct data-driven, multi-agency, ground, air and marine saturation patrols in high threat areas for sustained periods of time.”

Gov. Rick Perry testified, too. Here are excerpts from what he said: “Last week I witnessed the difficult conditions these children are being housed in while they await action by Washington, whether it’s the right decision to immediately deport them or the shortsighted and tragic decision to essentially turn them loose in the United States. Some might think allowing them to stay is a more humane option, I assure you, it is not. Nobody is doing any of these children the slightest favor by delaying a rapid return to their countries of origin, which in many cases is not Mexico.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, listed more than a dozen areas of action the federal government is taking, one of which was public health screenings “for all those who come into our facilities for any symptoms of contagious diseases or other possible public health concerns.”

Cost analysis is released

State Comptroller Susan Combs on June 30 announced the publication of an analysis of new school construction costs.

Combs said the analysis, conducted by her agency, shows practices school districts can implement to save money, such as “architectural prototypes that suit elementary, middle or high schools, saving months of construction time and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“Schools can be built efficiently and less expensively, but districts don’t always choose to do so,” Combs said. “Our report provides taxpayers and school districts with additional information to consider when making those choices.”

Construction cost figures are inflation adjusted and take into account regional differences in the price of materials and labor, Combs said.

Drought conditions persist

Gov. Perry on July 3 renewed for another month the drought emergency disaster he originally proclaimed on July 5, 2011, certifying exceptional drought conditions pose a threat of imminent disaster in specified counties in Texas. This current proclamation extension applies to 118 of the state’s 254 counties.

“Rules and regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat are suspended for the duration of the state of disaster,” the proclamation states.

Site shows impact of bases

Comptroller Combs on July 2 publicized a new source of information on the economic impact of military installations in the state. highlights how the state and local communities support military activities and families and gives examples of ways military activities spur economic development and innovation in Texas.

Texas military installations, which employ more than 255,000 military and defense-related civilian personnel, provide an impact “of nearly $150 billion to the state economy and account for 6 percent of the state’s economic activities,” Combs said.

RRC offers BBQ tips

Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s energy-regulating agency, on the day before the Fourth of July, made an announcement listing safety tips for Texas estimated six million “barbecue households” that own propane gas grills.

Among tips given was: “To turn the cylinder valve off or on, remember, Righty, Tighty … Lefty, Loosey.”

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