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Capital Highlights

Texas again leads nation in new corporate projects


Texas once again has topped the list for new and expanded corporate facilities added in a year, according to Site Selection magazine. With 1,028 new projects in 2022, the state had more than the next two states combined — Illinois and Ohio. 

“Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state.”

Two projects valued at $8.5 billion each helped snare the state’s top spot: a chemical plant in Orange and a liquified natural gas plant in Corpus Christi. They were followed by a $5 billion silicon wafer plant in Sherman.

“The Lone Star State’s economy is larger than that of Canada, South Korea, and Australia,” Site Selection said in its March issue.


New court system for businesses proposed

A new court system devoted solely to settling business disputes is being proposed by the state’s top three elected officials, though it has its share of critics as well. The Austin American-Statesman reported Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in separate announcements proposed the creation of a specialty business court, modeled after the Chancery Court of Delaware. The court has been in existence for more than two centuries and has been emulated by a few dozen states. The specialty business court has been listed as a top priority of legislators during this session.

Abbott said the court would provide consistency in applying state law when businesses end up in court disputes. A high-powered lobby group, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, is backing the plan.

“Businesses today know the same case with the same facts can produce wildly varying outcomes simply based on which part of the state it’s filed in and which judge is hearing it, and we know attorneys are telling their clients not to litigate in Texas because of this unpredictability,” TLR spokeswoman Lucy Nashed Cafrelli said in the Statesman story.

The judges for the business court would be appointed by the governor, according to House bill 19, filed last week. The president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association called that problematic.

“The bottom line is that Texans value electing their judges,” San Antonio attorney Laura Tamez said.


Child fatalities drop in last fiscal year

The number of children in Texas who died due to accidents, maltreatment, and unsafe sleep declined by 27% in the last fiscal year. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reported 182 children died due to abuse and neglect in the state during fiscal year 2022. The most common causes of fatalities involving neglect were drowning, unsafe sleep, physical neglect, and medical neglect, DFPS reported.

Children 3 years of age and younger comprised almost 80% of all confirmed child abuse and neglect fatalities over the past 10 fiscal years. However, in the past three years, there has been a marked increase in fatalities involving older children. In all confirmed cases of abuse and neglect, parents were the most common perpetrators.


College students join fight to end DUI deaths

With spring break approaching, the Texas Department of Transportation is joining with students at Texas A&M in a peer-to-peer program focused on highlighting the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

One person in the state dies every 7 hours and 41 minutes in a DUI-related crash, according to TxDOT. During spring break of 2021, Texas had 874 alcohol-related traffic crashes with 31 deaths and 107 serious injuries. TxDOT is partnering with U in the Driver Seat, a peer-to-peer program led by A&M students that is focused on saving lives by preventing DUI-related crashes. Student leaders from around the state are joining the campaign and urging fellow students to always find a sober ride.

“Our message to students is this: Help keep yourself and others safe by finding a sober ride, taking a cab, using a rideshare, or simply staying put,” said Marc Williams, TxDOT executive director.


TPWD celebrates park centennial with grants

As Texas state parks mark their 100th anniversary, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is awarding the largest sum of grants in the program’s history. The agency is distributing more than $2.8 million to create 55 new grant-funded partnerships across the state to promote conservation and recreation. 

The Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) was established in 1996 to introduce under-represented audiences to outdoor recreation, conservation and environmental education. Among the projects approved are students monitoring water quality along the Rio Grande, communities of color learning about the cultural history of the Buffalo Soldiers while hiking at Fort Davis State Park, and breast cancer survivors learning to fly fish in the state’s rivers.

The grants are funded through a portion of Texas' sporting goods sales tax.


Daylight saving time starts Sunday

Spring is approaching, and so is daylight saving time, which starts at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 12. Clocks jump ahead an hour, so if you forget to adjust the time you are liable to show up for church an hour late and miss the service.

The first two countries to use daylight saving time were Germany and Austria in 1916. They did so to save fuel used for artificial lights during World War I. The United States followed suit in 1918. 

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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