Case Counts/Testing in Texas   Wednesday, Sept 9th  (4:35 PM data)

Total Tests Performed — 5,826,726

Confirmed Cases — 645,791 (4,285 new cases)

Active Cases —73,205

Hospitalizations — 3,604 (12,985 available beds, 1,423 available ICU beds)

Fatalities — 13,692 (139 new deaths)

Recovered Cases — 558,894

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Tuesday, Sept 8th was 7.58%.  One month ago, there were 6,959 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,157 new cases reported, compared to the 4,285 reported yesterday.  The 3,604 COVID patients in hospitals now are 545 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 6.7% of total hospital beds in the state.

National Democratic Group Commits $6.2 million in Effort to Flip the Texas House

Super PAC Forward Majority plans to spend $6.2 million across 18 races that will have an impact on the control of the Texas House in January.  In their announcement, the group said the money will go toward TV ads, digital ads and mail in each district.  The 18 targeted districts are considered “swing” districts due to their perceived makeup of a close number of Democratic and Republican voters, where the incumbent won by less than 10 percentage points in 2018.  All of these seats are either currently open or held by the Republicans, and are mostly in suburban areas of Houston and Dallas. 

Democrats are currently nine seats away from the House majority — and growing confident in their chances of capturing the chamber. They have a released a slew of internal polls in recent weeks showing close races in many of their targeted districts, with the Democratic nominees clearly ahead in some.

President Trump List Senator Ted Cruz as Potential Supreme Court Nominees During Second Term

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, is among the potential nominees to the Supreme Court announced Wednesday if the President wins a second term in the White House.  Cruz was a Republican primary opponent of Trump’s during the 2016 campaign.  The rivalry between Cruz and Trump became very nasty, and developed into  a heated battle of name-calling and other accusations.  But, all seems to have been forgotten, as Cruz has become one of the president’s most vocal and loyal supporters in Trump’s first term.   

Cruz was appreciative about being included on the list of possible justices to the high court, saying he was humbled and honored, and recognized the tremendous responsibility that comes with serving on the US Supreme Court.  Cruz also reiterated that while he is honored to be considered, he wants to continue to serve in the US Senate.

Cruz was included on a list of 20 potential picks for the court, if Trump is reelected in November.  One other Texan was on the list.  James Ho, who succeeded Cruz as the state’s Solicitor General, now sits on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Gov. Greg Abbott Calls on all Texas Candidates to Sign Pledge Against Defunding Police

Gov. Greg Abbott made his latest political move to fight efforts to cut police funding Wednesday, calling on all Texas candidates in the November election to sign a pledge “backing the blue.”  In a YouTube video promoting his pledge, Abbott said defunding the police departments is a reckless action that invites crime into our communities and threatens the safety of all Texans, including law enforcement.

Last month, the Austin City Council agreed to cut about $20 million from the police department in the 2021 budget and redirect the funds to things like housing and emergency response. Another $130 million was then put into two transitional funds that will allow several of the department’s traditional duties to remain funded while officials work out which responsibilities to keep under law enforcement and which to move out from under police oversight.

Abbott and other Texas Republicans denounced the move almost immediately. Days later, Abbott and other party leaders held a press conference to propose legislation that would freeze property tax revenues for any city that cuts funding from police departments. The proposal lacked details about how taxes would be frozen. And last week, the governor said he was considering dramatic legislation that, if passed by lawmakers, would allow the state to take over the Austin Police Department, controlling its operations and budget decisions, at the city’s expense.

Democrats immediately responded by saying that they are not aware of a single candidate running in Texas that has actively campaigned on defunding police departments and accused Abbott of trying to distract attention from his poor response to the pandemic.  

Lawmakers Feel Left out of State’s COVID Response

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is one of just three governors nationwide who have had unilateral control over their state’s coronavirus response while lawmakers sit on the sidelines.  Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota are the only other states in the union that only hold legislative sessions every other year.  And, Texas is one of only 14 states where only the Governor has the ability to call a special session. 

Legislatures in only three states, including Texas, haven’t met since the pandemic began in March — or at all in 2020. And there is little chance that Abbott will call lawmakers back to Austin now, with about 20 weeks left before the next Texas legislative session is scheduled to begin in January.

The duration of Abbott’s coronavirus-related orders — the first was issued March 13 — is unprecedented and raises questions about the strength of that legal justification, which is already the subject of a number of lawsuits filed by business and political interests in recent months.  Most recently, the calls for a special session have come from within Abbott’s own party, saying the Governor has overstepped his authority with his executive orders.

Abbott has used those emergency powers to make decisions regulating virtually every facet of life during the pandemic — whether to open or shut down businesses, how many Texans can gather in groups outdoors or indoors and whether Texans need to wear face coverings in public are just a few of them.  Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now demanding to have more say in the state’s response to the pandemic.

There are now 54 days until the November 3rd election and 114 days until the start of the Texas legislative session.