Texas leads nation in jobs added
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The Lone Star State continues to lead the nation in jobs added with 58,200 new positions in February, bringing the state to nearly 14 million total nonfarm jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. February also marked two full years of uninterrupted job growth in the state.
“The past 24 months of uninterrupted job growth show the strength of the Texas economy and ongoing economic opportunities for Texans,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel.
The state’s jobless rate in February was 4.5%, which is higher than the national rate of 3.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest jobless rate in a Texas metropolitan statistical area is 6.8% in McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission. The lowest rate in an MSA is 3.0% in Midland.
Senate passes bill to limit governor’s powers
The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill to rein in the governor’s authority during emergencies or disasters, the Austin American-Statesman reported. A matching proposal in the House is awaiting a committee hearing. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, would require the governor to call the Legislature into special session if the executive office wants to extend a disaster or emergency declaration past 30 days. Only the Legislature would be able to put restrictions on businesses such as those imposed during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under current law, disaster declarations last 30 days but can be renewed by the governor. For example, Gov Greg Abbott has extended a disaster declaration relating to illegal border crossings each month since May 2021, according to the Statesman.
Abbott expressed support in his State of the State address in January for involving the Legislature in disaster declarations that deal with public health crises.
Senate backs boost for retired teachers
The Texas Senate also unanimously approved a package that allocates $4.7 billion from the budget surplus to increase monthly payments for retired teachers and gives a one-time bump to retirees over 75, the Statesman reported. The bill is now headed to the House for consideration.
The measure calls for a 2% raise for teachers who retired between Sept. 1, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2022, and a 4% raise for those who retired before Sept. 1, 2013. Senate Bill 10 also provides a one-time stipend of $7,500 for retirees older than 75. The bill affects nearly a half-million retired teachers.
Retired teachers on average make $2,100 a month through the Teachers Retirement System.
House passes diaper, period products bill
The Texas House last week overwhelmingly passed a bill repealing the state sales tax on diapers, period products, baby wipes and similar items. The measure now heads to the Senate.
Its sponsor, state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, has tried for several sessions to get the measure passed.
“This bill provides an opportunity to help Texas families at every stage of life,” Howard said Tuesday, as reported by The Dallas Morning News. The measure also exempts adult diapers.