State Capital Highlights
Proclamation honors World Series winning Houston Astros
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott proclaimed Nov. 3 as Houston Astros Day, honoring the American League champions for winning the 2017 Major League Baseball World Series.
The Astros won their fourth game in the best-of-seven Series against the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 1. It’s the first World Series championship for the Houston Astros in the 55-year history of the franchise and the first for a Texas team. Players wore “Houston Strong” patches on their uniforms in honor of those affected by Hurricane Harvey’s widespread devastation. More than one million fans lined the streets of downtown Houston Nov. 3 to see the players hoist the championship trophy during a victory parade.
“This victory is a great honor for the Astros and the Houston community, which has been severely impacted by, and continues to recover in the aftermath of, Hurricane Harvey. Like the Astros, Texans are known for their spirit and resolve, and in the wake of Harvey’s devastation, we were able to see the persevering nature of Texans on full display. This championship will serve as inspiration to a city and state that is passionate about its sports,” Abbott wrote.
Abbott on Oct. 24 continued the long tradition of governors by making a friendly wager with California Gov. Jerry Brown on the outcome of the Series. Abbott offered a six-pack of Houston-brewed beer and Texas barbecue. Brown offered a selection of wine from his state’s Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties that were impacted severely by recent wildfires.
Flags to be at half-staff
Gov. Abbott on Nov. 5 ordered that flags across Texas be lowered to half-staff through sunset on Nov. 9 in memory of those who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, a town 20 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Some 26 people were reported killed and dozens injured when a lone gunman opened fire with an assault rifle in a church while members attended Sunday morning services on Nov. 5. The gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, was found with a gunshot wound, dead in his truck several miles from the scene. Details continue to emerge in the shooting.
Revenue total comes in
State Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Nov. 2 reported that state sales tax revenue totaled $2.46 billion in October, an amount 6.9 percent more than he reported in October 2016.
Receipts from the mining and manufacturing sectors led sales tax revenue growth, and most other economic sectors also grew moderately compared to the same month last year. Hurricane Harvey does not appear to have had a significant net effect on state sales tax revenue, he added.
Also, Hegar said, total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in October 2017 was up 5.2 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Details on monthly sales tax collections can be found at the Comptroller’s Monthly State Revenue Watch, which is accessible through the website comptroller.texas.gov.
AG goes after gougers
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division on Oct. 30 sent notices of violations to 127 Texas businesses accused of price gouging during the state of disaster declared for Hurricane Harvey.
All of the cases involve consumer complaints against gas stations that allegedly charged $3.99 or higher for a gallon of unleaded gasoline or diesel. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits anyone from taking advantage of a disaster declared by the governor and selling or leasing necessities for excessive prices. The Consumer Protection Division received an estimated 5,500 complaints alleging price gouging by businesses. Many Texans emailed photos and receipts as evidence, Paxton said.
Job count decreased
The Lone Star State lost some 7,300 jobs in September, due largely to effects from Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Workforce Commission reported.
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent, down from 4.2 percent in August, and remained below the national rate of 4.2 percent. Annual employment growth for Texas was calculated at 2.1 percent.
“Texas’ economic growth is boosted by the resilience of our employers, who have added 230,300 private-sector jobs over the past year,” said Ruth R. Hughs, the TWC commissioner who represents employers. “TWC is committed to ensuring our state resources and services are provided to help get Texans get back to work after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey.”
Depository site chosen
Comptroller Hegar on Nov. 3 announced the city of Leander as the future home of the Texas Bullion Depository, with construction to begin in early 2018.
In its 2015 regular session, the Texas Legislature created the depository as an agency within the Office of the Comptroller.
The depository, according to the official statement of legislative intent, would be established “so the state, state agencies and private individuals would be able to store precious metals in a secure, Texas-based depository to reduce reliance on out-of-state facilities and to insulate their assets from unstable market forces.