Gov't-Business

State Capitol Highlights

By Ed Sterling
TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION

Governor speaks about
issues related to shooting
at high school

AUSTIN – Local, state and federal law enforcement on May 18 responded to a shooting that left 10 people dead and 10 others injured at Santa Fe High School near Galveston.
One of the school’s 1,400 students was taken into custody, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered flags to half-staff until May 22 in memory of those who lost their lives in what he called “probably the worst disaster to strike this community.”
During a news conference at the high school, Abbott said he plans to work with members of the Texas Legislature and with educators, parents and students across Texas “on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.” He mentioned background checks and “strategies to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose an immediate danger to others.” He also suggested more safety personnel and mental health intervention capabilities on school campuses.
“In the fog of the aftermath of a catastrophe like this, the answers are not always immediate, but the answers will come by us working together,” Abbott said.
Goal: To end harassment
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on May 16 established a workgroup of House members to recommend additional steps to prevent and eradicate sexual harassment in the Legislature.
Straus tasked the workgroup with reviewing existing sexual harassment policies, researching best policies and practices from other states and providing recommendations for any rule changes that would support a professional work environment.
“This is the next step in our effort to make sure that sexual harassment is not tolerated at the Texas Capitol. Now that a stronger and more transparent sexual harassment policy is in place, this workgroup will recommend additional ways to make the legislative work environment safer,” Straus said.
The House Committee on Administration adopted a sexual harassment policy in December, clarifying ways Texas House employees can identify and report sexual harassment and get assistance. The policy also requires House staff to undergo new anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. All current members of the Texas House have completed that training, Straus said.
Straus named state Reps. Linda Koop, R-Dallas, and Donna Howard, D-Austin, as co-chairs of the workgroup. Other members include Reps. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson; Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park; Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth; Lina Ortega, D-El Paso; Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, Tom Oliverson, R-Houston, Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston; and Gene Wu, D-Houston.
Sales tax holiday is set
Texas families and businesses can save on the purchase of certain water and energy efficient products during the state’s “Water-Efficient Products” and “Energy Star” sales tax holidays.
The state comptroller’s office estimates that shoppers will save more than $10 million in state and local sales tax during the Memorial Day weekend May 26-28.
As of May 1, more than 60 percent of the state was in abnormally dry or drought conditions, and the upcoming summer heat puts a strain on the power grid. Those factors make it a good time to upgrade outdated water systems and inefficient appliances, Hegar said.
Program funds repairs
Gov. Abbott and Land Commissioner George P. Bush on May 15 announced more than 15,000 Hurricane Harvey-stricken homes have received repairs through the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering program in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The program provides basic repairs that allow homeowners to live in their homes and their communities as they make more permanent repairs to their homes. Up to $20,000 in repairs, including restoring electricity, air conditioning/heating and hot water, debris removal, limited drywall and insulation and restoring functional bathroom and kitchen facilities, have been provided to return the homes to safe, sanitary and secure standards, the officials said.
Paxton files opioid suit
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 15 announced that his office had filed a consumer protection lawsuit in a Travis County state district court alleging that Purdue Pharma violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act relating to the company’s manufacturing and marketing of prescription opioids, including OxyContin.
The attorneys general of five other states took similar legal action on May 15 against the Stamford, Connecticut-based company.
 “My office is holding Purdue Pharma accountable for fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers including OxyContin when it knew their drugs were potentially dangerous and that its use had a high likelihood of leading to addiction,” Paxton said

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