Members of the Texas Senate are continuing to consider ways to improve school safety. Both chambers of the state legislature have been examining this issue in the wake of the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 others injured.
The meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security got underway this morning. Today, they’re examining “the root cause of mass murder in schools.” That inbcludes testimony on a variety of potential risk factors from mental health and anger management to social isolation.
Dr. Andy Keller is president and CEO of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which has offices across Texas. He told lawmakers that while there are kids at greater risk for committing violence, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. “So we’re trying to pick the parts of the haystack more likely to have needles,” Keller said. “But even then … the majority of people who committed these crimes do not have a recognizable, treatable mental illness. They’re disturbed individuals, they are people that we’re outraged and shocked by, but they’re not folks where we have a treatment at the present point where we could keep them from doing those evil acts.”
Lawmakers will also consider the possible influence of media and entertainment, such as violent video games and films.
A Houston company is planning a new oil export terminal off the Texas Gulf Coast. As Houston Public Media’s Travis Bubenik reports, the project is the latest sign of the state’s growing importance in the international energy sector.
Enterprise Products Partners wants to build the facility about 80 miles offshore.
Huge “supertankers” would pull up to the port, load about 2 million barrels of oil, and take off for China and other countries.
The first-of-its-kind facility on the Texas coast would make exporting faster and cheaper, and it comes as Corpus Christi is expanding its inland port to make room for supertankers with that same goal in mind. Regulators still have to approve the Enterprise project.
The U.S. hit a record high 3 million barrel-a-day weekly export level last month, and one analyst firm expects the oil production driving those exports will double by 2030.
Texas health officials have confirmed the state’s first three cases of West Nile Virus this year. One is in Galveston County, another in Dallas County, and the third is in Travis County.
Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, says normally the first cases of the virus occur earlier than they did this year.
“And that could be due to the cold winter that we had,” Van Deusen says. “The research has suggested over the years that a very, very cold winter will delay and perhaps reduce the amount of West Nile the following year. Of course it remains to be seen – we could see a big upswing in cases, so don’t want people to let their guards down.”
Van Deusen points out that most people who get infected with the virus won’t get sick – but about 20 percent will develop West Nile fever.
“As you might suspect, fever is the most symptom” Van Deusen says, “and then also things like muscle and joint aches, headaches, nausea and diarrhea and fatigue.”
Last year there were 135 cases of West Nile and six deaths.