COVID Cases and Hospitalizations Continue to Rise
New infections continue an upward trend, with 10,343 cases reported by the state yesterday. The rolling seven-day average is on the increase as well, now standing at 10,700 daily cases. Hospitalizations are also on the rise. The state is reporting 2,931 people hospitalized with COVID illness, an increase in over 250 patients from one week ago.
State Urges Electricity Conservation
With record high temperatures across the state, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued an appeal last night to residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve energy between the hours of 2PM and 8PM for the next three days. ERCOT is not predicting system wide outages, better known as rolling blackouts, due to the current heatwave. ERCOT manages 90% of the state’s power load for more than 26 million customers. Their projections show that demand could exceed supply on Monday afternoon as temperatures are predicted to reach well over 100 degrees in several parts of the state. Sunday’s high temperature in Austin was a record 109 degrees, and a high of 110 is predicted for today. Temperatures in both the Dallas and Houston areas were also expected to exceed the 100 degree mark.
To follow grid updates, as well as up to the minute supply and demand projections, go to the ERCOT website: https://www.ercot.com
Uvalde School Shooting
The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) at Texas State University released a report last week regarding the Uvalde school shooting that claimed a Uvalde police officer armed with a rifle could have shot the gunman before he entered the school. But, the officer lost his opportunity when he asked one of his superiors for permission to take the shot, and did not receive a response. ALERRT was created in 2002 to address the active shooter response training for law enforcement in the state. DPS asked the ALERRT for an assessment shortly after the incident in Uvalde. The Mayor of Uvalde in a written statement flatly denied the information in the report, and said the officer was unsure of whom he saw trying to enter the school. However, officials with ALERRT stand by the information in the report, saying they have not received any other information that contradicts what was filed in the report. The Uvalde mayor says this report is another example of how state officials are simply trying to use the local law enforcement and other local officials as scapegoats to intentionally leave out details about the state response to the incident.
Roe v. Wade
A group of conservative Texas lawmakers have warned companies in Texas that it is illegal for the companies to pay employees to travel to other states for abortions. Members of the Texas Freedom Caucus sent a letter to a Dallas law firm over the weekend warning them that the firm is violating Texas law by reimbursing employees for travel costs related to an abortion procedure. The letter cites a law passed in 1925, the original anti-abortion law enacted by the state. Last week, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that certain provisions of the law could be enforced in a civil manner after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case last month. The letter went on to say that the Caucus would be introducing legislation in the 2023 session that would bar companies and other entities from reimbursing employees for abortion related travel and costs. Several district attorneys in the state, including in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, have said they will not prosecute abortion providers or anyone for abortion related issues.
Democrat Beto O’Rourke will hold 70 public events in 65 counties over a 49 day period beginning July 19th to try and kick start his campaign for Governor. O’Rourke, according to recent polls, is cutting into Abbott’s lead, but still trails by several points as his party heads into its state convention in Dallas this weekend. O’Rourke will visit all major cities in the state, some small towns in west Texas, and have several stops in the Rio Grande Valley, where Republicans have made inroads in recent elections.
US Senator John Cornyn has been formally censured by the Harrison County Republican Party for his role in negotiating the gun safety legislation signed today by President Biden. Harrison County is in far east Texas, bordering Louisiana, and has a population of 67,000. It’s main population center is the city of Marshall. Party officials there said that Senator Cornyn has demonstrated a pattern of opposing the core principles of the Republican Party. The party invited Cornyn to the meeting where the censure was being discussed, but he declined the invitation. The action holds no formal authority other than to relay the message to their elected representatives that they are unhappy with the way he is representing their area and the party. The county party will send the censure to the State Republican Executive Committee for consideration. The only possible action by the SREC is to have the state party censure Cornyn, thus giving an indication to the party faithful to ask Cornyn to resign or not seek reelection.
We are also sad to report the passing of former House member Tom Ramsay of Mt. Vernon. Ramsay was elected to the state House in 1992 and served for 10 years. He was a moderate, rural Democrat, part of the majority in the 90’s before the state transitioned to control by the Republicans. In 2002, Ramsay was the Democratic nominee for state Agriculture Commissioner, losing to Republican Susan Combs. Ramsay was a banker and real estate agent in Mt. Vernon after his career in politics. Probably most noteworthy, he was the roommate of Don Meredith at SMU.
The Texas Democratic Party convenes in Dallas this weekend for its convention. There are also a few more committee hearings scheduled for the month. The House Special Investigative Committee on the Robb School Shooting is meeting today in the Capitol. Also meeting this week are the House Appropriations Committee and the House Urban Affairs Committee is meeting in Houston to discuss the growing need for workforce housing to address economic growth in the state. The Senate Finance committee meets today as well to discuss the appropriation of federal COVID relief funds and to monitor the state spending programs regarding border enforcement. Later in the month, the House Public Education Committee will meet to discuss issues related to public school finance to evaluate state policy on curriculum and instructional materials.
The schedule and details of all interim hearings can be found here: https://capitol.texas.gov