News Roundup: Texas AG’s Office Says Child Support Collections Are Up 4 Percent Over Last Year

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelSeptember 5, 2018 1:43 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 Attorney General’s Office says it collected more than $4 billion in child support last year.

Representatives from that office appeared before the Texas Legislative Budget Board Tuesday. It’s the time of year when state agencies are presenting budget requests for the years 2020 and 2021, ahead of the next legislative session. That begins in January.

Jeff Mateer is the First Assistant Attorney General. He told the board that the AG’s office not only saves Texans money, but also helps recover money they’re owed – such as child support.

“I’m proud to announce that in numbers that are literally hot off the presses for this past year – and I’m not going to round this time, Michelle, we collected $4,378,154,867 to support Texas children. That’s a 4 percent increase over last year.”

He adds their Child Support Division serves almost one in four children in Texas.

“That’s one 1.5 million cases and 1.7 million Texas children. Since 2016, our caseload has grown 57 percent while keeping the existing staff the same,” he said.

Mateer added Texas is number one in the nation in total child support collections.  The Office of the Attorney General is the official child support enforcement agency in Texas. It provides a range of services to parents at no cost as required by federal law.

Houston police arrested 9 MS-13 gang members they say are connected to a string of murders in the area.

Police say they expect to make more arrests, in this crackdown on the notorious Central American gang. Houston Public Media’s Elizabeth Trovall reports:

Arrests were related to a string of alleged homicides occurring June through August of this year. Most of the victims and all suspects are affiliated with MS-13, police say.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says though the size of MS-13 is relatively small, the seriousness of their crimes is significant.

“Those transnational gangs bring a lot of crime into our community including the human trafficking piece, the drug trafficking piece, the gun trafficking piece, and when they do act out, they are extremely violent,” Acevedo says.

He says MS-13 accounts for 400 of the 20,000 known gang members within Houston.

The Texas Department of Public Safety ranked MS-13 as among the gangs posing the highest threat to Texans.

A Texas A&M alumnus has been tapped to head up the National Park Service.

President Donald Trump last week named David Vela to the position, which has been filled on an acting basis for nearly 20 months since Trump took office.

Vela graduated from A&M in 1982 with a degree in recreation, park and tourism sciences. He currently oversees Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

If confirmed, Vela would be the first Latino to lead the National Park Service.