News Roundup: Texas Lawmakers Announce Trio Of Disaster Relief Bills Worth $1.8 Billion

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 7, 2019 12:58 pm

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

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and top Texas Senators on Wednesday announced a trio of disaster relief bills worth $1.8 billion. Gov. Greg Abbott designated Harvey relief and flood mitigation as an emergency item this legislative session. State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican, authored one of the pieces of legislation.

“So what does Senate Bill 6 do specifically? Senate Bill 6 instructs the Texas Department of Emergency Management, TDEM as well call it, to create a guide for local officials on disaster response and recovery that will reduce the confusion and delay after an event,” Kolkhorst said during the press conference.

Lubbock Republican Charles Perry is backing a bill that would create a state flood plan.

“After Hurricane Harvey, the lieutenant governor gave me the interim charge of coming up with a statewide flood plan. I think that was probably news to a lot of people that we did not have a statewide flood plan,” Perry said.

Lt. Gov. Patrick said he wants the legislature to pull a total of $3 billion out of the state’s so-called rainy day fund to pay for these bills and to cover past Harvey recovery expenses.

A scholarship fund has been established in honor of Botham Jean. He’s the 26-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a white Dallas police officer in his apartment last fall. KERA’s Anthony Cave reports.

The scholarship fund is a joint effort with Jean’s alma mater and employer. Jean worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an associate, and he graduated from Harding University in Arkansas in 2016. University president Bruce McLarty said since Jean’s death, there had been a strong desire to honor the 26 year old. Friends said he had a deep Christian faith. Jean was from St. Lucia, and Caribbean students will be given preference for scholarship money. Jean was shot in September by Amber Guyger. The Dallas Police Department fired her, and she’s been indicted on a murder charge.

More Texas Democrats are openly considering a run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2020. But the Republican incumbent is still preparing for possible challenges from two who aren’t: Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro. That’s despite the fact that O’Rourke has said he won’t run for the seat, and Castro is already a Democratic presidential candidate.

But Cornyn pointed out the filing deadline for the U.S. Senate race is not until December.

“Perhaps Beto, perhaps Julián Castro, others who have indicated that they’d prefer to run for president, if they’re not getting a lot of traction, then obviously it’s very easy to pivot into the Senate race,” Cornyn said during a call with reporters Wednesday.

Democrats who say they are considering a run against Cornyn include former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, 2018 congressional candidates MJ Hegar and Joseph Kopser and Julian’s twin brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro.

Texas health officials say there are now 10 confirmed cases of measles in the state. That’s one more case than the state saw in all of 2018.

The 10th case is an adult visiting Guadalupe County from the Philippines, where there is an ongoing measles outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas is one of four states currently experiencing a measles outbreak. Outbreaks are defined as three or more cases of the measles.