Sheila Jackson Lee, John Cornyn Push To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

This week in Texas politics with The Texas Tribune.

By Rhonda FanningJune 19, 2020 12:51 pm, , ,

It’s time for the week that was in Texas Tribune political reporter Alex Samuels.

Friday is Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery in Texas. Many celebrate it as the official end of slavery in the United States; it came over two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. U.S. senator from Texas, John Cornyn, announced that he will introduce new legislation to make it a federal holiday.

On Monday, Sheila Jackson Lee, a U.S. representative from Houston, introduced a similar resolution in the House. Her measure, which has more than 200 cosponsors, aims to recognize the historical significance of Juneteenth.

“Texas became the first state in 1980 to actually designate Juneteenth a holiday. But the recognition is largely symbolic, and since then, 45 other states and the District of Columbia have moved to recognize the day, though it’s not a federal holiday in Texas,” Samuels said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that this fall, Texas public schools will open for in-person classes. Education Commissioner Mike Morath supports the governor’s decision.

“[Morath] feels it will be safe for students and faculty to return in the fall, but that there will be more flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely if the parent chooses,” Samuels said.

That decision came amid a continued rise in coronavirus cases this week.

“[Thursday] was the seventh consecutive day that Texas reported a record number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, and since the beginning of June we’ve seen hospitalizations have increased almost every day,” Samuels said.

Abbott said he’s closely watching hospital capacity throughout Texas as he continues with the reopening plan.

Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.

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