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Capital Highlights

Fort Hood renamed after Korean, Vietnam war hero


It’s official. Fort Hood, named for a high-ranking Confederate officer in the Civil War, has been renamed Fort Cavazos, in honor of native Texan Richard E. Cavazos, the country’s first Hispanic four-star general.

Fort Cavazos is the Army’s largest armored, active-duty military installation, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. It is one of nine that are being renamed around the country, based on recommendations from a naming committee commissioned by Congress to remove the names, symbols and displays that honor the Confederacy.

Cavazos was widely decorated for his service during the Korean and Vietnam wars, receiving two Distinguished Service Cross medals during his military career. He died in 2017 at 88.


State rep expelled from Texas House

The Texas House voted 147-0 to expel state Rep. Bryan Slaton after an investigating committee determined he engaged in inappropriate behavior with a 19-year-old legislative aide. Slaton, R-Royce City, was found to have had sexual intercourse with the aide, who works in his office, and to have supplied alcohol to an underaged person on at least three occasions, the Statesman reported.

Slaton resigned the day before the vote to expel him but would have remained an officeholder and been paid until a successor was elected through a special election.

“Expulsion of a member of this body is rare,” House Speaker Dade Phelan said. “Mr. Slaton's predatory behavior merits such a consequence. I am proud of my colleagues for holding each of us accountable.”

Slaton is the first House member to be expelled since 1927, according to the Statesman.


Texans enjoy a cooler-than-average April

The state enjoyed somewhat cooler temperatures in April than in years past, according to Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board. The eastern half of the state experienced above-average rainfall, though drought conditions persisted in the central part of the state, from Laredo to the Panhandle.

“Precipitation varied considerably, with half the state, East and coastal Texas, experiencing well-above-average rainfall, while the other half, West Texas and the Panhandle, received well-below-normal precipitation,” Wentzel wrote.

Drought conditions dropped 12 percentage points compared to the end of March, with 55% of the state now under drought. The arrival of the El Niño weather system by fall is forecast to bring above-average rainfall to the state and lead to widespread drought relief by the end of 2023.


Eight more counties added to disaster declaration

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has added eight more Texas counties to  a disaster declaration after an early February ice storm caused considerable damage across wide swaths of the state, Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week.

“This update will help support ongoing recovery efforts in Texas communities impacted by Winter Storm Mara in February,” Abbott said.

The eight added to the 13 already approved by FEMA are Falls, Hopkins, Red River, Anderson, Gillespie, Kerr, Kimble and Limestone counties. The counties are now eligible for federal funding for debris removal and repairs to infrastructure.


House considers modified version of Senate voucher bill

An 80-page version of the Senate’s school voucher proposal is now before the House education committee, the Texas Tribune reported. This version would cut the number of students eligible for the program, modify the state’s standardized testing program, and eliminate the Senate bill’s restriction on teaching about gender and sexual orientation.

A move to get the bill quickly out of committee failed after state Rep. Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd, questioned why the committee wanted to move forward without holding a public hearing.

“You're trying to bring an 80-page substitution to this body and force a vote without thoughtful deliberation,” Bailes said. House committees have until May 20 to vote on Senate bills to advance them to the full floor.

The Senate version of the bill would give parents who opt out of the public school system up to $8,000 in taxpayer money to pay for a child’s private schooling and related educational expenses, such as textbooks or tutoring.


Casino bill dies; sports betting advances

The bid to bring casino gambling to Texas is again officially dead, the Texas Tribune reported.

“Members, I do know when it's time to fold ’em,” state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said Friday as he postponed consideration of House Joint Resolution 155 until Jan. 12, 2027. A related bill sponsored by state Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, was also postponed until after the session.

A separate bill to legalize online sports betting barely made it out of the House. Both measures required a two-thirds majority to be put on the ballot as proposed constitutional amendments. The Tribune reported that bill faces long odds in the Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer, has said his chamber does not have enough votes to pass it.

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: gborders@texaspress.com.


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