AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry on Sept. 14 praised legislation filed to repeal a Central Texas congressional representative’s amendment to the recently passed federal education jobs bill, H.R. 1586.
U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn teamed up to write and file repealing legislation, S.3768, and U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, led Texas’ GOP House delegation in offering a House version, H.R. 6108, to strike the amendment from H.R. 1586.
The amendment authored by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, requires the governor to make assurances about how Texas would spend its $830 million share bill’s $10 billion in jobs funding.
If the assurances are not made, Texas will not get the money. Gov. Perry called the requirement, which applies only to Texas, “unfair” and “anti-Texas.”
The U.S. Department of Education rejected the Texas Education Agency’s application for the $830 million on Sept. 9, because the application lacked the required assurances from the governor. Perry, in response to the rejection, argued that the state constitution and state laws prohibit him from entering into binding commitments about future budgets or funding levels.
The Senate and House versions of the repealing legislation have been sent to committees and await deliberation. Meanwhile, members of the Texas congressional delegation have been sent a Sept. 15 letter by Johnny L. Veselka, executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators, urging them to do what they can to remove barriers that would inhibit distribution of the $830 million.
Sept. 15 debate ‘deadline’ passes
Gov. Perry’s reelection campaign told challenger Bill White’s campaign that White, former mayor of Houston, had until Sept. 15 to make public his tax returns from the period in 1993-95 during which he served as a deputy secretary of energy in the Clinton administration.
Perry, a Republican, said White, a Democrat, had to meet the deadline in order for the two to meet in a public debate. White chose not to publicize his tax returns from that period, and on Sept. 15 he told reporters, “The fact is, it’s the people of Texas that are entitled to the debate. ... (Perry) thinks that appearing in a debate where you can be accountable to the public is sort of like a favor to the other candidate to be bestowed or withheld on some whim or political calculation. I believe it’s a public responsibility.”
Perry said “(White) needs to come clean with the people of Texas. There’s obviously something in those tax records or he would have released them by now.”
Texas takes action to block EPA
The state of Texas on Sept. 17 filed motions to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing new federal regulations that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said would harm the state’s economy and increase unemployment.
The state’s motions, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, seek to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas Endangerment Finding and other rules predicated on the Endangerment Finding.
The state claims the EPA’s Endangerment Finding is legally unsupported because the agency outsourced its scientific assessment to organizations that “relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare.”
Abbott, acting on behalf of the state, is asking the court to prevent the EPA from imposing its greenhouse gas regulations until the state’s pending legal challenge is resolved.
On July 26, Abbott filed a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to the EPA’s decision to disapprove the state’s Flexible Permits Program.
Unemployment rate rises slightly
The state’s unemployment rate for August rose slightly to 8.3 percent, up from 8.2 percent in July, the Texas Workforce Commission reported on Sept. 17.
In contrast, the national unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for the month of August.
License division to be reorganized
The Texas Public Safety Commission on Sept. 17 approved a reorganization plan for the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Driver License Division.
According to an official news release, the reorganization will focus on “improving customer service, protecting the public and making the Driver License Division a more desirable place to work.”
It’s time again for those flu shots
The Department of State Health Services is encouraging every Texan to get a flu vaccination in the fall. The official first day of the season is Sept. 22.