Governor applauds TxDOT efforts in removal of hurricane debris

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AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 27 announced the Texas Department of Transportation had collected more than 2.4 million cubic feet of debris left behind by Hurricane Harvey in roadways across the four districts hardest hit by the storm.

TxDOT is continuing to assist in the removal of debris from roadsides in Corpus Christi, Houston, Beaumont and a number of areas along the Gulf Coast region, Abbott said in a news release. 

“This is a tall order, but I want to assure Texans that TxDOT is up to the challenge and has already made great progress. We will not rest until this important job is finished, and we are working to do so as quickly as possible,” he added.

Texas Transportation Commission Chair J. Bruce Bugg Jr. pointed to TxDOT’s “remarkable progress” in bringing agency employees from across Texas to impacted areas. He made special mention of those working through the protracted cleanup while “dealing with their own personal losses” caused by Hurricane Harvey.

More than 600 employees from all 25 TxDOT districts are involved in debris removal in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Bugg said.

Patrick assigns tasks

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sept. 28 issued a list of interim legislative charges to certain committees of the Texas Senate. 

Patrick called for the committees on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs, Business & Commerce, Education, Finance, Health and Human Services, Intergovernmental Relations, and State Affairs to study and make recommendations on a wide range of issues related to hurricanes and other severe weather events.

Texans are nominated

The White House on Sept. 28 announced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and former Texas Solicitor General James Ho to the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The Fifth Circuit hears cases on appeal from federal district courts in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Panama Canal Zone. It is authorized to have 17 active judges.

Gov. Abbott on Sept. 28 released the following statement: “The nominations of Don Willett and James Ho to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals are outstanding choices by President Trump. As Texas attorney general, I had the pleasure of working with both Don and James and can attest to their brilliance as lawyers and their unwavering commitment to the rule of law. I look forward to their swift approval by the U.S. Senate and to their service on the 5th Circuit, where I know they will uphold the Constitution.”

 

Abbott posts reaction

Gov. Abbott posted his thoughts regarding the failure of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 26.

“With healthcare premiums skyrocketing and access to affordable insurance shrinking, it is irrefutable that Obamacare is broken, and must be repealed. The question is whether our healthcare system evolves into a Bernie Sanders-style government-run single-payer healthcare system or we empower states with the flexibility to craft patient-driven health care plans that meet the unique needs of their citizens,” Abbott wrote. 

“The Graham-Cassidy bill aspires to the goal of reducing the role of the federal government in health care decisions and giving states more flexibility to help their citizens make health care decisions better tailored to their unique needs. I trust Texans know better how to address their health care needs than bureaucrats in Washington,” Abbott added.

AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association have refuted assertions that the current healthcare law, widely known as Obamacare, is broken, and did not support passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill.

 

TCEQ grants available

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in efforts to reduce air pollution related to vehicles and equipment, is accepting applications for grants totaling $6 million to help defray the costs of building or modifying alternative fueling facilities.

Eligible fuels include natural gas, biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, propane and electricity.

Information and the application form are available at terpgrants.org.

 

Flu shots encouraged

Texas Influenza Awareness Day was Oct. 1, and the Texas Department of State Health Services is encouraging everyone six months old and older to get vaccinated.

“The flu vaccine causes your body to make antibodies to fight influenza, but it takes about two weeks for this to happen. So, it’s important to get the flu vaccine early, before influenza hits your community,” said DSHS Infectious Disease Medical Officer Jennifer Shuford. 

Ed Sterling is Director of Member Services for the Texas Press Association.

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