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Capital Highlights

Another special session slated for October


Gov. Greg Abbott has called a third special session, this time about school choice, for next month. He is promising retribution for lawmakers who oppose his move to enact school vouchers in Texas, the Texas Tribune reported.

“There’s an easy way to get it done, and there’s a hard way,” Abbott said on a tele-town hall about the issue. “We will take it either way — in a special session or after an election.” Abbott essentially threatened to find primary opponents for legislators who oppose his initiative, which failed to gain traction during the regular session as a coalition of Democrats and Republicans representing rural districts opposed it.

His proposal would give parents taxpayer dollars to send their children to private schools. Opponents say this would harm public school systems, particularly in rural areas where choices for private schools are limited.

Paxton hints at run against Cornyn in 2026

Just days after being acquitted on impeachment charges by the Texas Senate, reinstated Attorney General Ken Paxton hit the airwaves of several conservative media outlets and hinted of a possible run against incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2026.

The Houston Chronicle reported on a Paxton interview with Tucker Carlson on X, formerly known as Twitter. Paxton said that “somebody needs to step up and run against this guy that will do the job.” 

“To me, he’s been in Washington too long. He’s been there, what, for 14 years or so? And I can’t think of a single thing he’s accomplished for our state or even for the country,” Paxton said.

In a separate interview, Paxton said he will be “on the campaign trail” to back GOP primary opponents of three House members who were key to his impeachment: House Speaker Dade Phelan and Reps. Andrew Murr of Junction and Jeff Leach of Plano.

“I’m highly motivated,” the Austin American-Statesman quoted Paxton as saying.

Paxton still faces state security fraud charges filed in 2015. He is due to go to trial next March and is also under federal investigation.

Deadline nears for registering to vote on Nov. 7

Texans will decide the fate of 14 proposed constitutional amendments on Nov. 7. The deadline to register to vote in that election is Oct. 10 for those who are not already registered. The proposed amendments include measures to increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, with homeowners 65 and older getting an additional $40,000 exemption. Other proposals would cap increased in appraised value and expand exemptions for small businesses from the franchise tax.

Abbott and other backers of the bills passed in a summer special session called these measures the largest property tax cut in Texas history.

Early voting begins on Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 3, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Texas called ‘hotbed of hate’ in recent report

A report issued last week by the Anti-Defamation League labels Texas a hotbed for extremism and antisemitism, with a heavy presence of white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ+ groups, according to the Texas Tribune. The report examines three years of “alarming levels of extremist ideology and activity” in the state. Antisemitic incidents in the state rose by 89% and six “terrorist plots” were discovered, along with 28 “extremist events” such as training and rallies, according to the report.

The ADL suggested some nonpartisan policies to stem growing extremism, such as creating a commission to study domestic violent extremism and providing clear statistics on hate crimes.

“Elected officials in Texas have an opportunity to confront this issue to significantly curtail the negative impact that extremism has on the people they represent,” Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said in a statement. 

Financial losses from opioid crisis are staggering

In a monthlong series of stories about the fentanyl crisis, The Dallas Morning News determined through an analysis by The Perryman Group that the economic toll of the opioid crisis in Texas includes $50.1 billion in economic output each year and more than a half-million jobs.

“As large as these numbers are, they likely understate the true impact,” economist Ray Perryman said. “It’s widely acknowledged that drug addiction is underreported.”

His group pulled data from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention and other health agencies for its analysis.

A new law requires all emergency medical responders to report drug overdoses to health authorities in an effort to map overdoses and hopefully identify overdose hotspots. All Texas law enforcement officers are being given NARCAN, which quickly reverses opioid overdoses, according to Abbott’s office.

Cowtown named city with the worst weather

A newsroom meteorologist with the San Antonio Express-News is not likely to win the keys to the city of Fort Worth after completing a study to determine which major city in Texas has the worst weather. The “winner” was Fort Worth, according to Anthony Franze.

Franze looked at hail, tornado, flash flood and wind data since 2000 for the five most populous counties.

“Based on all the different categories we looked at, the major city with the most consistent destructive severe weather is Fort Worth,” Franze wrote. “Since 2000, Tarrant County has had the most hail reports and it’s in an area most prone to destructive tornadoes. Tarrant County has also had 121 destructive wind reports during that time, the most of any major Texas city.”

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, Lufkin and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@texaspress.com.


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