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Census talley to give four more seats Texas Congressional seats

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Ed Sterling
Capital Highlights
December 27, 2010 | 1,632 views | Post a comment

AUSTIN -- U.S. Census figures released last week reveal that Texas is getting four more seats in Congress. Why, some states don’t even have four seats total and Texas will have 36.

In 2000, the last census year, Texas’ population was counted at more than 20 million -- 20 percent less than today’s 25 million-plus.

California, with 53 seats and gaining none in the new census, is the only state that has more congressional representation than Texas. The upshot is, more power will shift to Texas.

During the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature, our lawmakers must redraw congressional district boundaries based on the 2010 census. The concentration of power naturally will increase in areas with Texas’ highest population densities: Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and the sweeping San Antonio-Laredo-Rio Grande Valley area.

The November 2012 general election ballot promises many surprises with new districts added and boundaries of the other districts adjusted.

In the 2005 legislative session and ensuing special sessions, Texas underwent an unusual and painful mid-census redistricting. Then, enough Democratic lawmakers left the state to prevent the state House and Senate from passing redistricting legislation. Eventually, the lawmakers returned, votes were taken and the process was completed.

This time, however, with a vastly more Republican-dominated House and a 19-12 GOP seat advantage in the state Senate, the path to creating new districts and making boundary adjustments may be less sinuous than last time.

EPA to assume air permit process

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 23 announced its plan to take over the permit process for greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) emissions in Texas, effective Jan. 2. The job currently belongs to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

“Beginning in January 2011,” the EPA said, “industries that are large emitters of greenhouse gases and are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, must obtain air permits and implement energy efficiency measures or, where available, cost-effective technology to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“This includes the nation’s largest greenhouse emitters, such as power plants, refineries and cement production facilities. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants are not covered by these greenhouse permitting requirements.”

Perry issues disaster proclamation

Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 21 proclaimed 244 of the 254 counties in Texas, threatened by extreme fire hazard because of drought, are in a state of disaster.
Perry’s proclamation cites the state law that allows him, as chief executive, to use “all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with a disaster.”

Unemployment benefits extended

On Dec. 20, the Texas Workforce Commission announced the deadline for jobless Texans to qualify for emergency unemployment benefits has been extended to Jan. 3, 2012.

The extension comes through a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama that moves back the filing deadline to allow long-term claimants to continue receiving benefits.

Special DWI patrols now watching

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Dec. 20 announced the Highway Patrol “will conduct focused DWI patrols in high-risk locations during the times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.”

Targeted DWI patrols started Dec. 21 and will run until Saturday, Jan. 1. “We’d prefer that drivers obey the traffic laws on their own, but we’ll be out on the roads to ensure that travelers are as safe as possible,” said David Baker, assistant director for the Texas Highway Patrol. “We’ll be looking for intoxicated drivers, as well as speeders and seat belt violators.”

Inaugural BBQ planned at Capitol

The 2011 Texas Inaugural Committee on Dec. 21 announced a barbecue will be held on the Capitol grounds after the Jan. 18, 11 a.m., swearing in ceremony for Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

“Whether you’ve lived in Texas your whole life, just moved here or plan to move here, we invite you to join us for the ceremony and a huge barbecue afterward,” said Weisie Steen, chair of the committee.

The inauguration ceremony is free to the public and will be on the Capitol’s south steps. Barbecue lunch tickets are being sold for $8 per person. Tickets should be purchased in advance via the website: http://www.2011texasinaugural.com.
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