News Roundup: Under New DPS Policy, Troopers Will Cite, Not Arrest, Misdemeanor Marijuana Offenders

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 2, 2019 2:32 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 Public Safety has rolled out a new policy in response to a state law that legalized hemp and hemp-derived products. 

The Texas Tribune obtained an internal memo from the state law enforcement agency. It instructs DPS officers to issue a citation – instead of making an arrest – when someone possesses a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. 

This policy shift is the latest fallout from a new state law that defined hemp as containing less than 0.3 percent THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana. Recently, prosecutors in some of the most populous counties in Texas said they were dropping hundreds of marijuana cases because lab testing was needed to distinguish it from legal hemp. 

Despite this change, the memo did reiterate that DPS personnel are expected to continue enforcing marijuana-related offenses.

A federal report released Thursday shows investigators at the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement struggle to work together at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Elizabeth Trovall with Houston Public Media tells us how that’s affecting investigations into crimes like fraud and gang activity. 

The oversight report from the Office of Inspector General surveyed 1,000 people working at the FBI and ICE in cities like El Paso, San Antonio and Houston. The report found 37% of those surveyed said they experienced cooperation failures that had negatively affected investigations. In part, poor coordination was due to a lack of trust and communication among officials. In one case, a suspect of an FBI investigation got away – and stopped coming to the US – because of poor communication among ICE agents.

The Texas electrical grid went into this summer with the slimmest electricity reserve margin ever. That means on the hottest day of the year, there would be less electricity on hand to help Texans keep cool. But so far, Mose Buchele with KUT News says the grid has managed to handle the heat. 

On super-hot days about half of all electricity consumption in Texas goes to air conditioning. But so far this summer the state hasn’t really seen the kind of multicity heat waves that can seriously strain demand. Another thing is that consumers and utilities are getting a lot better at conservation when it does get hot and the price of electricity spikes. That also helps the grid make it through hot days with a comfortable amount of electricity in reserve.

Speaking of summer, drivers planning an end-of-season road trip will find cheaper prices at the gas pump. 

The statewide gas price average in Texas dropped for the second week in a row. It’s down $.04 from last week, at $2.46 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel. 

Daniel Armbruster, with AAA Texas, says this drop in price comes amid high demand. 

“So far supplies are able to stay with demand and so that’s why we’re seeing prices kind of trickle down just a little bit, and it will likely fluctuate over the next few weeks as we come closer to the end of summer driving season,” Armbruster says.

The national average for a gallon of gas is $2.72.