Judge grants anti-toll road group new hearing
The “Keep Texas Moving” advertising campaign funded by the Texas Department of Transportation continues to be challenged by Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF).
Travis County State District Judge Orlinda Naranjo on Oct. 18 granted TURF’s request for continuance and a new hearing in 90 days.
For months, the group has sought to stop TxDOT from spending state funds to promote the TransTexas Corridor, a multibillion dollar, multidecade privately funded tollroad plan.
“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers,” said TURF founder and executive director Terri Hall. A Texas law prohibits state agencies from using public funding for political advocacy, Hall said.
But Kristina Silcocks, a transportation attorney with the Office of the Attorney General who is representing TxDOT, said the “Keep Texas Moving” campaign is permitted under another state law that allows marketing of toll projects.
Extra check may come for some
The Teacher Retirement System board of trustees will meet Nov. 9 to decide whether to give eligible annuitants an extra check in January. The independent actuary for the TRS said a supplemental 13th check can be paid to those who are eligible without hiking the active member contribution rate.
The check amount would be equal to a normal monthly pension payment, up to a maximum of $2,400. The supplement was made possible by SB 1846 sponsored by Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, in the 80th Texas Legislature.
Handwashing is key to prevention
By now, Texans have gotten wind of this health issue in a variety of media, but it will not hurt to mention it here.
Handwashing is important. A particularly stubborn form of “staph” bacteria is out and about, spread through person-to-person contact or via contact with contaminated surfaces. “Regular hand washing is the best way to prevent staph transmission,” said Marilyn Felkner, a Texas Department of State Health Services epidemiologist.
“Getting back to the basics, using soap and water, or hand sanitizer, is essential in facilities where people work, live and play close together.”
Find guidelines to keep staph in check at www.mrsaTexas.org.
Perry names education chief
Texas has a new education commissioner: Gov. Rick Perry named Robert Scott to the post on Oct. 16. Scott had been acting as commissioner since predecessor Dr. Shirley Neeley resigned effective July 1. He served four years as chief deputy commissioner, managing daily operations for the Texas Education Agency.
Think hard before you vote
Here is one more plug for the Nov. 6 election: the subjects of all 16 proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot:
• Prop. 1: Transferring constitutional facilities funding for Angelo State University to the Texas Tech University System.
• Prop. 2: Authorizing general obligation bonds to finance student loans.
• Prop. 3: Annual 10 percent cap on increases in homestead taxable value.
• Prop. 4: General obligation bonds for state agency construction and repair projects.
• Prop. 5: Allowing a temporary property tax freeze for smaller city redevelopment.
• Prop. 6: Property tax exemption for a personal vehicle used for business activities.
• Prop. 7: Selling property acquired through eminent domain to former owner at original price.
• Prop. 8: Revisions to home equity loan provisions.
• Prop. 9: Exempting residence homesteads of totally disabled veterans from property taxation.
• Prop. 10: Deleting constitutional references to county office of inspector of hides and animals.
• Prop. 11: Requiring legislators to cast record votes on final passage.
• Prop. 12: Authorizing $5 billion in general obligation bonds for highway improvements.
• Prop. 13: Allowing judges to deny bail in certain cases involving family violence.
• Prop. 14: Permitting judges reaching mandatory retirement age to finish their terms.
• Prop. 15: Authorizing general obligation bonds to fund cancer research.
• Prop. 16: Bonds for water and sewer services to economically distressed areas.