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Abbott adds items to third special session
Abbott last week added two agenda items to the special legislative session which began Sept. 20. Legislators will consider additional property tax relief, as well as a constitutional amendment that would allow courts to deny bail to people accused of violent or sexual crimes.
In the current special session, legislators already are considering redrawing the state’s political maps as required every decade. Also under consideration is legislation restricting participation by transgender students in school athletics, plus legislation outlining how to spend $16 billion in federal COVID-19 pandemic funding.
Additionally, legislators are considering a bill that protects dogs from being chained without adequate shelter or space. Abbott vetoed a similar bill during the regular session.
McConaughey mulls bid for governor
Actor Matthew McConaughey said in a podcast recently that he is “measuring” a bid to unseat Abbott in next year’s governor’s race, though he has not indicated if he would run as a Republican, Democrat or independent.
The Houston Chronicle reported the Oscar-winning actor made the comments on the “Set it Straight: Myths and Legends” podcast, which is hosted by a band called Midland.
A recent poll by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler showed McConaughey leading Abbott by 9 percentage points. Former congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’ Rourke is also considering a run.
COVID-19 cases drop in state, but deaths increase
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Texas dropped again last week to 83,098, down 34% from the previous week. New deaths reported in the same time frame rose to 2,073, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, up 15% from the previous week. At 280 deaths a day, the state has one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 death rates, the Houston Chronicle reported. In the past month, more than 5,000 Texans have died of the virus.
Hospitalizations of lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients continue to drop, with 10,349 reported statewide by the Texas Department of State Health Services on Sunday. That’s a decrease of 15.4% from the previous week. The number of staffed pediatric intensive-care unit beds continues to drop, however, with just 77 available statewide, according to DSHS.
The number of Texans who are fully vaccinated hit 14.72 million on Sunday, which is 50.5% of the state’s population. The Chronicle reported last week that the state has the lowest vaccination rate of the country’s four most populous states — New York, California, Florida and Texas.
Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: email@example.com.