If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
The Texas Senate on the first day of the Legislature’s second special session unanimously passed a tax bill last Wednesday that increases the homestead exemption and includes a pay hike for teachers, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The first special session ended with the Senate and House unable to agree on how to provide property tax relief.
The Senate bill provides a $2,000 pay increase for teachers in urban districts over the next two years, and a $6,000 hike for teachers in rural areas. It increases the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan are set to meet in an attempt to come to agreement on the property tax issue, after Patrick texted the best way to resolve debt differences between House and Senate versions would be to meet face-to-face.
“They have responded; we’re looking forward to a meeting. … Whenever that is, I believe we can get this resolved quickly,” Patrick told the Statesman.
During the first special session, the House passed its version of a property tax package on the first day and immediately adjourned for the remainder of the 30-day session.
Three die daily in state due to drunk driving
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation are again urging Texans to drive sober, as drunk driving deaths increased again last year to 1,162 — an average of more than three people a day. The agency is spearheading a Faces of Drunk Driving campaign, highlighting families whose lives have been adversely affected by a drunk driver, such as Monse Montoya, who lost her mother and father when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and T-boned her parents’ car.
Last year, 26% of all traffic deaths in Texas involved a drunk driver.
“Numbers can sometimes feel abstract,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “But these are real people whose lives were either lost or forever altered by someone’s decision to drink and drive.
SNAP benefits for storm victims
Victims of the mid-June storms that caused numerous power outages and subsequent food losses can apply for replacement benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in a dozen Texas counties.
Those counties include Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Ochiltree, Panola, Titus, Upshur, and Wood.
“For families that have been impacted by the recent storms, these replacement food benefits will help provide some peace of mind,” said Michelle Alletto, with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
SNAP recipients with food lost or destroyed during the storms can apply by July 14 by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting option 8.
During heat wave, solar power crucial to grid
The “heat dome” that settled over much of the state during June has pushed electrical demand to new highs. One key component in keeping the grid from overloading is the increase in solar panels, which have grown more than sixfold since 2019, according to the Texas Tribune.
Solar power recently provided nearly 20% of the state’s power grid needs. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported 16,800 megawatts of solar power could be produced on the state’s grid as of the end of May. That compares to 2,600 megawatts in 2019.
“The solar we’ve added in the last year has been tremendously beneficial, and the solar we will continue to add will also be beneficial,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Solar is such a boon for us for grid reliability.”