Week of Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2018

Texas unemployment rate hits lowest level since 1976
AUSTIN — Texas has its lowest unemployment rate in more than 42 years.
The Texas Workforce Commission on Nov. 16 announced that Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in October, down from 3.8 percent the prior month.
It is the lowest level of unemployment the state has seen since January 1976.
The Texas economy added 32,300 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs in October. Annual employment growth was 3.1 percent, marking 102 consecutive months of annual growth.

EARLY/PRE-THANKSGIVING State Capital Highlights, week of Nov. 20-25, 2018

Field of candidates for House speaker narrows to one
AUSTIN — Eight members of the Texas Legislature filed papers with the Texas Ethics Commission to declare themselves candidates for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and as of last week, only one remained.
The candidacy of state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, gained momentum in October, and Bonnen on Nov. 13 announced he had the support of 109 members of the 150-member House. At minimum, it takes 76 votes to elect a speaker, which is 50 percent, plus one, of the 150 members of the House.

Week of Nov. 12-18, 2018

Election results reveal larger than usual turnout
AUSTIN — More than 8.3 million of Texas' 15.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election, as shown in results posted by the secretary of state.
The turnout of almost 53 percent was recognized widely as the highest in nearly 50 years for a Texas election without presidential candidates on the ballot.

Week of Nov. 5-11, 2018

Secretary of State Pablos applauds early voting turnout 
AUSTIN — Statistics compiled by the office of the secretary of state show Texans cast ballots in record numbers during the early voting period before the Nov. 6 midterm general election.

Week of Oct. 29 - Nov. 4, 2018

Texas receives grant to help fund anti-terrorism measures
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 24 announced $55.5 million in funding from the federal Homeland Security Grant Program to support state and local efforts to prevent terror attacks and crack down on terroristic activity in Texas. 
These awards, according to a governor’s office news release, will go toward local anti-terrorism efforts across the state, including 227 different State Homeland Security Program projects and 134 Urban Area Security Initiative projects.

Week of Oct. 22-28, 2018

Disaster declaration affects counties hit by heavy rains, flooding
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state disaster declaration for 18 Texas counties recently impacted by deadly weather that claimed at least four lives and caused extensive flooding. 
On Oct. 16 Abbott authorized the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions to aid in response efforts.

Week of Oct. 15-21, 2018

Panel hears about what’s being done to ‘harden’ school campuses
AUSTIN — The Texas House Committee on Appropriations met Oct. 9 to hear ideas on improving school safety in the aftermath of the May 18 Santa Fe High School shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead and 13 injured.

Week of Oct. 8-14, 2018

Paxton joins effort against climate change lawsuit
AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Oct. 5 announced he had joined an Indiana-led coalition of 11 state attorneys general in a friend-of-the-court brief seeking dismissal of a climate-change lawsuit against the energy industry.

Week of Oct. 1-7, 2018

Abbott, Valdez present views on Texas in one hour forum
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott and Lupe Valdez on Sept. 28 appeared together on television for 60 minutes in the only scheduled gubernatorial debate, a forum hosted by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus.

Week of Sept. 24-30, 2018

Future of TRS health care hinges on lawmakers’ support
AUSTIN — Retired teachers facing the unwelcome prospect of paying higher monthly health insurance premiums received better-than-expected news last week.
The Teachers Retirement System board of trustees on Sept. 21 voted not to increase premiums because the TRS staff negotiated a better rate and other cost savings with its health insurance provider, while keeping plan and pharmacy benefits the same.