Log in
Capital Highlights

Early voting ends Friday


Early voting in the March 5 primary election ends Friday with a host of candidates on the ballot in both parties, including president, U.S. Senate, all 38 Texas U.S. representatives, all 150 Texas House representatives, and down to local races for district attorney, sheriff and other positions.
Check with your local elections office for more information or go to votetexas.gov.
A record number of Texans are registered to vote ahead of the primary election, according to Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson. More than 17.9 million people are registered to vote in Texas, which is one million more than were registered ahead of the March 2020 primaries.
The increase is being attributed to population growth and does not necessarily mean a higher voter turnout. Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, said most people “register to vote out of reflex,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
“Just because a person’s registered doesn’t mean they’re going to vote,” Rottinghaus said. “They may be registered for all kinds of reasons that are disassociated from their desire to actually go vote.” 

It may be time to say adios to El Niño

El Niño, the weather pattern that has brought wetter and cooler weather to the state over the past several months, appears to be weakening, giving its counterpart, La Niña, a 55% chance of returning soon, according to the Houston Chronicle. The result could be a drier, hotter summer, if February’s weather is any indication.
All across the state, temperatures in February are the warmest they have been since 2017, the Express-News reported. That might mean the state will have a hotter summer than usual, but not necessarily, according to meteorologists. Out of the past 25 years with a warm February, above-average temperatures were recorded in 18 of the following summers.
Meteorologist Anthony Franze says the state probably will not experience record temperatures like Texans endured last summer, but it isn’t likely we will get a break this summer from intense heat.

Wildfire season just around the bend

The Texas A&M Forest Service on Friday responded to seven new requests for assistance on wildfires, with last week being the warmest and driest of the dormant winter season. However, as of Sunday there were no active wildfires burning as the spring wildfire season approaches.
East Texas is experiencing some of the most significant drying as it has already been more than 10 days since the last significant rainfall, the forest service said. The highest danger for wildfires is in South Texas and along the I-35 corridor. Red flag warnings are in effect for Rocksprings, Del Rio and Eagle Pass, as well as counties along the Rio Grande. Burn bans are in place for 60 of the state’s 254 counties.
A dry cold front swept across the state late last week, bringing temperatures down but also providing high, gusty winds and dry air. South, Central and far West Texas remain in severe or extreme drought, according to the National Weather Service.

State has spent $148 million busing migrants

Texas has spent $148 million since April 2022 busing migrants to other states, according to kut.org. As of Jan. 24, more than 102,000 migrants have been transported to New York, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
“It certainly is a great deal of money to be spent,” Ray Perryman, the president of the Waco-based economic research company The Perryman Group, said.
The busing program is part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border security initiative, which thus far has cost the state $10 billion – more than the operating budgets of Delaware and Vermont, according to the report.
Abbott has said he intends to keep busing migrants to other states.

Texas opts out of summer lunch program

The state has opted not to participate in a federal program to help low-income parents buy groceries for their children in the summer, when free school meals are unavailable, the Texas Tribune reported.
Qualifying families would have received $120 per child through a pre-loaded card, with the state receiving $450 million in federal tax dollars for 3.8 million children eligible for the program.
The reason for not participating is a lack of time to coordinate and direct distribution of the preloaded cards, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Texas is one of 15 states not participating in the program, which was announced in late December.

Natural gas prices are plunging

Natural gas prices have fallen more than 50% since January, reaching their lowest levels since mid-2020 during the height of the pandemic, the Texas Standard reported. Matt Smith, an energy analyst for Kpler, said a combination of factors have resulted in much lower prices for natural gas, including weaker demand because of warmer weather, resulting in higher supplies.
Natural gas storage levels are 11% above last year and about 16% above the five-year average, Smith said. Another factor is oil production in the Permian Basin that produces an abundance of natural gas as a byproduct.
“As long as [natural gas prices are] above zero, then they’re making money on it,” he said.

Student loan forgiveness affects 14,510 Texans

President Joe Biden’s latest round of student loan forgiveness includes 14,510 Texans, according to The Dallas Morning News. That wipes out almost $117 million in debt under the SAVE plan, which is intended to make it easier to repay student loans while offering debt forgiveness for longtime borrowers.
“The SAVE plan reflects our unapologetic commitment to deliver as much relief as possible to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said.
Borrowers who didn’t receive an email can log into student.aid.gov to check their loan status.

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.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here