The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
A bus crash in southwest Texas Wednesday afternoon has resulted in the deaths of 13 people.
Texas Public Radio’s Steve Short reports that the van crashed head-on with a pickup truck on U.S. 83, about 75 miles west of San Antonio.
“The people killed in the van were members of the First Baptist Church in New Braunfels. The Department of Public Safety is reconstructing the crash site and will interview the driver of the pickup,” Short says. “Church Pastor Brad McLean met with family members Wednesday evening to help them deal with the tragedy.
“In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he and his wife, Cecilia, extend their deepest condolences to the victims and the families of those involved in the tragic event.”
First Baptist New Braunfels also issued an official statement on the tragedy last night.
“It is with heavy hearts that we can confirm that thirteen of the fourteen passengers in today’s bus accident were called home to Jesus.”
And this morning the Texas Department of Public Safety identified all of the victims in the crash. The lone survivor in the church bus, 64-year-old Rose Mary Harris, is in critical condition. The pickup truck driver, 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young is in stable condition.
Oil and gas activity is continuing to grow in Texas – and that’s despite low oil prices.
Houston Public Media’s Travis Bubenik reports on the findings of a new, optimistic, industry survey:
In the survey of executives by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – drillers report being able to still make money from new wells in West Texas and South Texas with oil prices below 50 dollars a barrel.
That’s because of increased efficiencies and cost-cutting – and it’s led to more drilling rigs in service and increased capital spending, Bubenik says.
“Oil and gas production has also increased for the second quarter in a row – at what the Dallas Fed calls a ‘rapid clip.’ Oilfield service companies report growth as well, though at a slower pace than producers. A majority of those surveyed say employment levels and wages are holding steady – though there are some mixed reports of ups and downs in the labor market from others. On average – executives are expecting prices for West Texas crude to rise to between 53 and 54 dollars a barrel by the end of this year.”
Thursday the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs is considering a bill that would allow county clerks to refuse to issue marriages licenses to couples if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Dan Quinn is with the progressive advocacy group the Texas Freedom Network. He says Senate Bill 522 is an effort by conservatives to undermine the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“But it is so broad that the bill allows discrimination by a public employee against virtually anybody who can come forward seeking a marriage license,” Quinn says.
Quinn says that the proposal is one of about 17 bills that would allow government officials and private citizens to refuse to follow certain laws based on their religious beliefs.