Environmentalists Praise Electric Car Rebates But Little Else From The 85th Legislative Session

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 31, 2017 1:19 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DPFS) failed to report allegations and referrals of abuse and neglect in a timely manner, according to a federal audit released Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 46 out of 100 Texas child welfare cases they reviewed did not comply with federal requirements.

Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for Texas DFPS, says the child welfare agency agrees with the findings, but disagrees with the language of the report.

“The audit didn’t find any weaknesses at all in our child abuse investigation, despite the suggestive language,” he says.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed several bills today aimed at overhauling the state’s child welfare system.

Environmental groups in Texas are taking stock of the 85th Legislative session, which wrapped up earlier this week.

They’re disappointed with a number of the bills passed.

“This session the legislature passed a bill that would allow the state to preempt local lawsuits against polluters,” says Luke Metzger, the director of the advocacy group Environment Texas. “So now if a city or county wants to sue a polluter they basically have to get permission from the state first.”

He says lawmakers also cut tax incentives for wind energy and authorized jail time for citizens and journalists using drones to document pollution by factory farms and oil and gas sites.

But Metzger says there is one bright spot from this session: lawmakers resurrected $2,500 rebates for electric cars.

“That means if you go and buy an electric car, in addition to the federal $7,500 tax credit you’re eligible for, you would also get a 2,500 state rebate,” he says. “Those two together really help bring down the price of electric vehicles to make them competitive with conventional vehicles and really much more affordable for regular Texans.”

The rebate was first created in the 2013 session and Texans claimed all of the available rebates before the program was discontinued in 2015. The revived program will have 2,000 rebates available.

The cereal and snack manufacturing giant Kellogg Co., is scaling back on its distribution centers nationwide, resulting in more than 1,000 job cuts.

Houston Public Media’s Eddie Robison reports on the impact this will have in Texas:

Kellogg Co. is closing its Houston distribution center and laying off about 220 employees. That’s according to documents released Tuesday by the Texas workforce commission. About 200 more people are being laid off from a distribution center in Fort Worth. The job cuts come as Kellogg is ending its model of shipping product directly to retail stores.