Governors urge congressional leaders to pass disaster aid funding
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott and the governors of California, Puerto Rico and Florida on Jan. 24 asked U.S. House and Senate leaders to hurry up and pass supplemental disaster funding, and to send the legislation to President Trump.
“Over the past several months, we have received numerous assurances that adequate disaster funding was imminent,” the governors wrote in a joint letter. “Its continued delay only exacerbates ongoing uncertainty in devastated areas. Simply put, the communities devastated by these storms cannot be completely put back together until the federal government makes good on its promise to our citizens. If ever there was a time and role for the federal government to urgently help its citizens rebuild communities damaged by epochal disasters, now is the time to step up and fill that role.”
The letter, signed by Abbott, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, was addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
The governors also said in their letter, “While no longer front page news in Washington D.C., ongoing suffering becomes more acute the longer Congress waits to finish its work and pass a substantial disaster supplemental funding package” for critical relief measures in communities damaged by “epochal disasters.”
Paxton files DACA brief
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Jan. 25 was joined by 12 other states in filing a court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that would prevent the Trump administration from phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.
The ruling, issued by a U.S. District Court in California earlier in January, blocked the federal government from phasing out DACA, an Obama-era policy.
Paxton, in the text of the 36-page brief, informed the Supreme Court that Texas would be forced to consider whether to file suit challenging the June 15, 2012 memorandum by President Obama that created DACA and provided for its continued implementation. It is furthermore stated that such a challenge would be brought by June 15, 2018, in order to avoid issues about the possible application of a six-year statute of limitations.
“Without this court’s prompt intervention, the district court’s injunction could last for over a year, frustrating the very purpose of the executive’s decision here of promptly terminating disputes about the legality of a past policy by taking an undisputedly lawful course going forward,” Paxton said.
Special Ed: Survey open
The Texas Education Agency on Jan. 23 made available an online survey to solicit feedback from the public on its draft corrective action plan for special education.
The survey, available on the agency’s website, is open to anyone wishing to provide input on the draft plan.
At the direction of Gov. Abbott, the TEA drafted an initial corrective action plan concerning support and delivery of special education services in public schools. The draft addresses issues identified in a recent federal monitoring report, including the proper identification of special education students and assuring access to services at the local level.
Reported: 6 measles cases
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Jan. 23 announced that six measles cases among unvaccinated people in Ellis County were being investigated.
DSHS officials have advised health care providers in the area to take precautions and consider measles as a possible diagnosis in patients with a fever and rash in addition to a cough, runny nose or conjunctivitis.
The highly contagious nature of measles means it is possible that more cases will occur in the community. People involved in the outbreak have connections to Waxahachie and Midlothian, state health officials said.
DPS implements HB 1729
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Jan. 25 announced that customers applying for or renewing a driver license, identification card or commercial driver license may donate $1 or more to the Sexual Assault Evidence Testing Grant program.
As of Jan. 8 the program — administered by the Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor — had received more than 8,900 donations for a total of nearly $25,000, the DPS reported.