News Roundup: Greg Abbott Pressures Blake Farenthold To Pay For Special Election To Fill His Seat

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 26, 2018 1:56 pm

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

Gov. Greg Abbott says former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold should help pay for the special election being held to replace him. Abbott sent the letter Wednesday.

The Corpus Christi Republican resigned from Congress this month following revelations the federal government paid an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement on his behalf.

Ben Philpott, with KUT News in Austin, says this is a remarkable move by Governor Abbott.

“I think this could be viewed as an example of how concerned some Republicans are about the November elections,” Philpott says. “Special election after special election this past year, it has been shown that President Donald Trump has been a drag on the Republican ticket. Districts that Republicans were winning by 20 points, they’re barely winning or they’re just losing to a Democratic challenger. So I think when you have someone who has had sexual harassment allegations, who has promised to pay back money, who hasn’t quite really felt the need to do it yet, there’s no reason for Republicans in this state to add that additional baggage to their load heading into the November election, and making a very clean break and making it very clear that the harassment complaints and the inaction in paying this money back is absolutely unacceptable and needs to be fixed now.”

Abbott has scheduled the election to fill Farenthold’s congressional seat for June 30.

Texas lawmakers are pressing regulators to be tougher on pollution rules.

Travis Bubenik, with Houston Public Media reports, the push comes as a response to the pollution spikes Hurricane Harvey caused.

The state says Harvey caused more than 200 toxic spills. There was also excess air pollution from Houston-area industry.  At a hearing on the storm response, Democratic Rep. Joe Pickett said he worries polluters see fines as “just the cost of doing business.” He spoke to TCEQ Commissioner Bryan Shaw.

“Some of the fines that you have levied are inconsequential.”

Shaw’s response:

“Often times the mere having the enforcement action taken is as consequential as the fine, but that’s certainly something we continue to work with.”

The TCEQ says it has penalized companies that broke rules during Harvey, but the agency says there’s no list of those enforcement actions. In Houston.

Texans will be able to buy emergency supplies tax-free this weekend.

State Comptroller Glenn Hegar highlighted the possibility of severe weather this spring in the announcement about the sales tax holiday.

“The severe weather we had last year – particularly Hurricane Harvey – was a stark reminder that Texans should be prepared for emergencies at all times,” he said.

There’s no limit on the number of qualifying items you can purchase.

Those include supplies like batteries and flashlights that cost less than $75, and portable generators priced at less than $3,000.

Items that don’t qualify include car batteries and camping supplies.

The state’s sales tax holiday runs from April 28 to April 30.