Austin Report

An item on the meeting agenda for the board of directors of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) raised more than a few eyebrows in Austin this week and was seen as cause for potential concern for coastal residents.

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Some 3,000 teachers converged on the state capitol on March 11 from all across Texas to lobby their legislators to restore school funding and talk about issues like high-stakes testing, private-school vouchers, and teacher pensions. The Texas American Federation of Teachers sponsored the rally as AFT members from Brownsville to the Panhandle, from deep East Texas to far West Texas, spent the better part of the day visiting their area lawmakers one by one to make the case for public education.

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Austin was buzzing this week, but it wasn’t necessarily 375 of your closest friends and neighbors who came to town for Golden Triangle Days that caused all the commotion. It seems that a plastic bag ban went into effect at area retailers that sent shoppers scrambling – and complaining. Elsewhere a flotilla of taco trucks, sandwich wagons and organic food purveyors took to the streets in a continuing burst of entrepreneurial zeal in the state’s capital city.

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Gov. Rick Perry

It was the usual crowd for Gov. Rick Perry’s annual State of the State address at the capitol – a joint session of the Texas Legislature with House members joined by Senators on chairs set up in the aisle of the House chamber, various state officials, staffers and reporters alongside tourists and various delegations in town for the day, all gathered to hear what the longest-serving governor in Texas history had to say now.

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Political fallout continues from the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children dead, and the Texas Legislature is not immune. Sen. Tommy Williams, a Republican from The Woodlands whose district includes Jefferson County, leads a bipartisan trio of lawmakers who are proposing the creation of school district crime control districts, new taxing entities that can fund additional security measures or free up dollars for other expenditures.

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Political fallout continues from the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children dead, and the Texas Legislature is not immune. Sen. Tommy Williams, a Republican from The Woodlands whose district includes Jefferson County, leads a bipartisan trio of lawmakers who are proposing the creation of school district crime control districts, new taxing entities that can fund additional security measures or free up dollars for other expenditures.

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Gov. Rick Perry addressed a joint session of the Legislature on opening day.

The 83rd session of the Texas Legislature began this week, and it was a classic “good news – bad news” scenario with Comptroller Susan Combs reporting that increased state revenue forecasts mean that unlike the $27 billion shortfall faced in 2011, lawmakers are looking at $8.8 billion in unspent revenue in the current budget cycle. That represents a $35 billion swing in just two years so things are looking up, right?

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