CAPITOL HIGHLIGHTS

Patrick applauds preservation of bill

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 Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has applauded the North Carolina legislature’s refusal to repeal a law banning individuals from using public bathrooms designated for the opposite sex.

Patrick, who has made the passage of similar legislation in Texas one of his priorities, said in a Dec. 22 statement: “Legislation like this is essential to protect the safety and privacy of women and girls, and is simple common sense and common decency."

“Legislation to protect women’s privacy and business is essential to assure that sexual predators, like those who exploit the internet, will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers and that businesses are not forced by local ordinances to allow men in women’s restrooms and locker rooms.”

The filing of legislation proposing new bathroom access laws is certain in the Texas Legislature’s upcoming 85th Regular Session, beginning Jan. 10. Several bills have already been filed by Democratic state lawmakers, all proposing a prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in regards to employment, access to public facilities, etc.

TAB chief decries NC bill

Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, issued a statement taking the opposite position on the North Carolina bathroom bill.

“After months of debate and an unprecedented special session by the North Carolina Legislature, it’s unfortunate to see that the state chose not to repeal the discriminatory law created by HB 2. North Carolina and states that embrace discriminatory legislation will continue to suffer dire economic consequences, losing revenue and major events and disrupting job creation and investment.

“That’s why the Texas business community has made clear that discriminatory laws like HB 2 have no place in Texas. We can’t afford to slam the door on the Texas Miracle and create an environment hostile to business, unsafe and unwelcoming for citizens and harmful to our larger economy

and prosperity. Keep Texas Open for Business will continue to press our own Texas lawmakers to roundly reject discriminatory bills, no matter how they’re phrased or what they’re named.”

New case of Zika confirmed

The Texas Department of State Health Services and Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services on Dec. 22 announced that an additional Brownsville resident has contracted the Zika virus locally, bringing the total to six in Cameron County and Texas.

Work is ongoing to identify and offer testing to anyone with possible Zika symptoms and to all pregnant women in the area with or without symptoms. Efforts include environmental assessments to help reduce mosquito habitats. Recent cold temperatures, combined with mosquito control efforts, have reduced the mosquito population in the area. However, on warm days, residents should continue to use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves and pants. It is also important to dump out containers that hold standing water in and around homes to deny mosquitoes a place

to lay eggs.

Eco-minded actions urged

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Dec. 21 posted its annual plea to be eco-friendly during the holidays and into the new year:

“Whether we try to save money, lose weight, or quit certain habits, one habit worth breaking is throwing away items that can be reused or recycled. Every year, landfills take on more and more things we no longer want or need. In fact, in 2015, Texans added about 33.5 million tons of stuff to them. That’s more than six-and- a-half pounds of trash per Texan per day! If recent trends continue, that number will have increased for 2016. And at this rate, we only have enough landfill space to last another 56 years.”

Among things the TCEQ asks of Texans:

- Use and re-use gift bags;

- Serve meals on reusable plates and use cloth napkins;

- Use rechargeable batteries and recycle them when they no longer hold a charge; and

- Sell, donate or recycle old electronics.

Also, because more than 80 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered each year and most of it ends up in landfills, the TCEQ suggests that Texans opt out of unwanted catalogs, prescreened credit and insurance offers remember to recycle junk mail.

Last but not least, the TCEQ recommends: “Consider reusing holiday cards in craft projects instead of tossing them in the trash.”

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