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Under legislation prioritized by House Speaker Dade Phelan, every Texas school would have an armed police officer, and aspiring teachers would receive extra support.
The Dallas Morning News reported the bill would also provide $15,000 in annual funding for safety measures for each school in the state. Another bill would increase the annual allotment per student for safety measures from $10 to $100.
Another House measure is aimed at improving teacher retention and recruitment, The Morning News reported. The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, would create a new grant to help prospective teachers pursing special education or bilingual certification, and would increase funding for educator mentoring. Special education and bilingual teacher positions are especially hard to fill in Texas.
Rising car insurance rates causing sticker shock
Average statewide auto insurance rates are up nearly 24% over last year, according to a report by the Texas Standard. That is the highest increase in at least 20 years, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. That comes on top of increased costs for vehicles both new and used, and higher fuel costs.
Michael Schnurman, a business columnist with The Morning News, was interviewed on the Standard and had this to say, in part:
“There are several elements that play into it. One…is the higher values of cars and used cars in particular – they really shot up during the pandemic,” he said. “But the claims are also up a lot…When driving resumed, the number of accidents and the severity of accidents has really been a lot higher. If you look at fatalities, I think they were up 18%.”
Schnurman suggested consumers shop around for auto insurance and look for discounts for bundling it with homeowners’ insurance or multiple vehicles on the same account.
Drought map spreads in parts of state
Drought conditions by the end of February covered 62% of the state, up nine percentage points from a month earlier, according to Dr. Mark Wentzel, hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board. Drought-free areas include all of East Texas up to Dallas County to the west and Jefferson County to the south. The most severe drought conditions are in the far northern edge of the Panhandle, the counties surrounding San Antonio, and nearly all of South Texas.
“The latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service is optimistic for East and North Central Texas,” Wentzel wrote. “Through the end of May, that part of the state is expected to remain drought-free. Unfortunately, drought is expected to expand in the rest of the state.”