AUSTIN — Back in January, the governor’s office announced its decision to jettison plans to create the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile network of motorways, including rail, power, water, gas, oil and telecommunications lines.
That happened after heavily promoted “TTC” plans drew mostly negative input from citizens at public hearings the Texas Department of Transportation conducted in a number of cities that would have been in the path of proposed projects.
Last week, on October 8, TxDOT publicly declared it had chosen the “no-action alternative” in response to citizen input received in the environmental review of TTC-35, a project to transform only Interstate Highway 35.
Ted Houghton, one of five TxDOT commissioners, said the project was not well planned, not well marketed and poorly managed.
The Spanish firm Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction partnered to plan the TTC-35 project, under a $3.5 million state contract. That project would have stretched along the same route as today’s Interstate 35, from Laredo to the Oklahoma border.
Guzman appointed to high court
Gov. Rick Perry on October 8 appointed Eva M. Guzman of Cypress to the Supreme Court of Texas for a term to expire at the next general election in November 2010.
Guzman, the first Hispanic woman to serve on the state Supreme Court, is an associate justice on the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston and has served in the Texas judiciary for more than 10 years. She takes over the seat vacated by Justice Scott Brister, who resigned effective September 7 to resume a private law practice.
Phone jamming bill advances
The U.S. Senate on October 5 approved S. 251, the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009, legislation sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
Hutchison’s bill would allow the governor to petition the Federal Communications Commission to permit the installation of devices to jam wireless communications in a prison under his or her jurisdiction.
A Texas death row inmate used a smuggled cell phone to threaten state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and his family. Officers found the phone and 11 more phones in possession of death row inmates at the same facility.
Sunset appointees are named
The state Sunset Advisory Commission reviews the operation and efficiency of more than 150 state agencies. Most agencies undergo Sunset review every 12 years. Twenty-nine agencies are scheduled for Sunset reviews during the 2010-2011 biennium.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Oct. 6 appointed to the commission Senators Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, chair; John Whitmire, D-Houston; Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville; Joan Huffman, R-Houston; and public appointee Charles McMahen of Schulenburg. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, appointed by Dewhurst in 2008, continues as a member of the commission.
House members include Reps. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, and Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving. There presently are four House seats vacant on the commission.
Ag Department helps find feed
Even though overdue rains have soothed much of Texas in the last few weeks, there doesn’t seem to be enough feed around for livestock.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said his agency is helping to line up ranchers who need cattle feed with hay producers in Texas and out of state.
The Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline Web site, www.TexasAgriculture.gov, currently lists more than 450 available hay suppliers.
Fewer doses are to be shipped
A total of 142,400 doses of the H1N1 “swine flu” vaccine will be shipped to Texas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta announced in early October. Texas had expected to get 237,000 in the first allocation.
The doses are the FluMist brand nasal spray form of the vaccine, approved for use in vaccinating people 2 years old through 49 years of age who are not pregnant and do not have certain chronic health conditions.
Lawmakers ask for NASA money
Twenty-eight of Texas’ 34 members of Congress signed a letter urging President Obama to give $3 billion of the $787 billion economic stimulus funding program to NASA to support its manned space program — a program that employs tens of thousands of Texans.