Capital Highlights – Early Voting Begins on Eight Proposed Amendments

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If history is any indicator, voters in Texas are likely to go to the polls on November 2 in disappointing numbers to decide the fate of eight proposed amendments to the state constitution. With no statewide races on the ballot and the scattering of local elections for city council and school board, turnout is generally low. Nonetheless, early voting is now underway and continues until October 29.

The proposed changes include the authorization of raffles at rodeo events; allow counties to issue bonds for transport infrastructure; prohibit the state from banning or limiting religious services (related to closures during the pandemic); the eligibility of candidates for judicial posts; and exemption from property tax for bereaved families, among other measures. A more complete explanation of the proposed changes can be found on the non-partisan BallotPedia site: https://tinyurl.com/29andwew

Over $ 1 billion in rental assistance

A federally funded rent assistance program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has distributed more than $ 1 billion in rent assistance and utilities to more than 174,000 Texas households – more than any other state. The pandemic relief measure has provided assistance in 95% of counties in Texas and still has more than $ 900 million that can be distributed, according to TDHCA.

“Passing the billion dollar mark shows that we have been able to respond to a significant and urgent need that is still present here in our state, but it is important that we continue to work vigorously to get help as quickly as possible.” , Bobby Wilkinson, Executive Director of TDHCA, mentioned.

Renters can enroll in the program by calling 1-833-9TX-RENT (1-833-989-7368) or online at TexasRent子.com. The call center is open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. To be eligible, households must be equal to or less than 80% of the region’s median income and meet other criteria.

Dry state in September

The cooler, wetter conditions of early summer became distant memories in September, as much of the state experienced little rain, according to Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist for the Texas Water Development Board.

“At the end of the month, drought conditions covered 7% of the state, up six percentage points from the end of last month,” Wentzel wrote.

September was the first month since last March to be both hotter and drier for most of the state. Wentzel predicts that the dry conditions will continue over the next few months, causing the drought to expand to cover everything but the eastern edge of Texas by the end of the year.

$ 36.4 million in funding for border law enforcement

Governor Greg Abbott announced last week that his Public Safety Office would allocate $ 36.4 million in funding for law enforcement and prosecution as part of Operation Lone Star, the effort to state border security.

“Operation Lone Star is essential to our efforts to secure the border, and we will continue to invest in this operation to keep Texans safe,” Abbott said. “The grant funding provided through Bill 9 ensures that our local partners along the border have the resources and support they need to respond to the border crisis. “

The funds will go to a dozen counties along the Texas-Mexico border.

How to choose the right health insurance plan

Open enrollment for Medicare is ongoing and continues through December 7. The Texas Department of Insurance provides advice to Texans who register for Medicare after turning 65 this year, or to existing registrants who are considering changes to their Medicare plans. These include:

• Know the deadlines, which generally run three months before the age of 65 to three months after. People insured through their employer may delay enrollment, but it’s best to check with the company’s employee benefits manager.

• Learn the different parts of Medicare and decide if you need a replacement plan to supplement Medicare coverage.

• Calculate costs and compare plans. More information can be found at medicare.gov.

New cases of COVID-19 decline slightly; deaths increase

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Texas reported over the past week fell slightly to 48,971, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, but new deaths jumped 34% to 1,949. The latest wave of severe cases appears to be slowing from highs reported in late August and September, with 5,376 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals on Sunday. That’s a drop of nearly two-thirds from its late-summer peak, according to the Texas State Department of Health Services.

The number of fully vaccinated Texans climbed to 15.2 million, according to the DSHS, while more than 900,000 people received an additional dose of the vaccine. Additional doses were first authorized in mid-August.

Gary Borders is an award-winning Texas veteran journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas over a period of 30 years, including Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches, and Cedar Park. Email: [email protected]

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