CAPITOL HIGHLIGHTS

Abbott reacts to the choice of Perry as energy secretary

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AUSTIN — President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Rick Perry as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy prompted this reaction by Gov. Greg Abbott:

“Under Rick Perry’s leadership in Texas,” Abbott said, “the Lone Star State experienced unprecedented growth in the energy sector, which in turn created hundreds of thousands of jobs for Texans. Rick Perry was instrumental in creating a more favorable regulatory environment for the energy industry in Texas, and I have no doubt that he will bring that same expertise to his new post. The State of Texas looks forward to working with him to help advance America’s energy sector to create a more robust economy and greater opportunity for all Americans.”

Perry, who served as governor of the Lone Star State from December 2000 to January 2015, previously served stints as lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner and as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012 and again in 2016.

Presidential Cabinet members include the vice president, the attorney general and the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

 

Unemployment rate decreases

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.6 percent in November, down slightly from 4.7 percent in October, the Texas Workforce Commission announced Dec. 16.

Also, according to the state agency, Texas has added an estimated 210,800 seasonally adjusted jobs over the past year with the addition of 20,900 nonfarm jobs in November. The state has added jobs in 19 of the past 20 months. 

“Private-sector employment has been strong over the year with the overall job growth of 171,800 including 15,800 jobs added in November,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “The fact that our state has added jobs for 19 of the last 20 months is a credit to the diversity and resilience of employers in Texas.”

 

Net widens in Zika testing

State and local health departments are investigating five locally transmitted cases of Zika virus disease.

“Right now, we’re aware that local transmission has occurred in a small area of Brownsville,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner, in a Dec. 14 news release. “However, we want to cast a wide net with testing to develop a clearer picture of what is happening with Zika in the area and provide pregnant women with more information about their health.”

Zika testing is recommended for all pregnant Brownsville residents and pregnant women who have traveled there since Oct. 29. Also, those who visit Brownsville on a daily or weekly basis are asked to get Zika testing once during the first trimester of their pregnancy, and once during the second trimester.

 Pregnant women with limited travel should discuss it with their doctor and be tested based on when the travel occurred. 

Zika’s four most common symptoms are fever, itchy rash, joint pain and eye redness. While symptoms are usually minor, Zika can also cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, and other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during pregnancy. More information is available at TexasZika.org.

 

Zika grant is awarded

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Dec. 12 awarded the state of Texas a $5 million grant to help combat the Zika virus. 

“Now that Texas has confirmed cases of local transmission of the Zika virus, this money will be crucial in our efforts to contain and combat further transmission of the virus,” said Gov. Abbott. “Texas has been at the forefront of developing and implementing the strongest possible Zika response plan and we will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure our communities have the tools they need to combat the Zika virus.”

 

‘Report Cards’ are posted

Education Commissioner Mike Morath on Dec. 8 announced the availability of 2015–16 School Report Cards on the Texas Education Agency website, tea.texas.gov.

School Report Cards include the following information for each campus in Texas:

• 2016 state academic accountability rating; 

• Attendance rates;

• Enrollment figures;

• Dropout rates;

• Class size averages;

• State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results;

• ACT/SAT results; and

• Per-student financial expenditures.

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