Texas Standard For February 2, 2021

It was billed as a State of the State address. But a closer reading might reveal the not-to-subtle start of a new campaign season in Texas. We’ll break down Gov. Greg Abbott’s five emergency items. And: The latest on bottlenecks in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the Lone Star State. Also: Rural Texas, disconnected? A state lawmaker warns funding cuts could cut off internet and phone service for many sparsely populated parts of Texas. Plus: A new opening for transmigrantes and how that could create new opportunities and new dangers at the border. Those stories and more today on the Texas standard:

By Texas StandardFebruary 2, 2021 9:51 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

State of State 2021 Recap 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named five emergency items last night in his State of the State address, meaning the legislature can vote on these items within the first 60 days of the session, much earlier than other measures. The Standard talks to UT-El Paso professor Richard Pineda and SMU associate professor Stephanie Martin about what was said and what it says about the governor’s priorities.

Vaccine Distribution and Data

Frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is bubbling up all over Texas. In many areas, bottlenecks in the vaccine supply are forcing health officials and hospitals to find new ways to prioritize patients. Houston Public Media’s Elizabeth Trovall reports the city of Houston and Harris County are taking two different approaches to vaccine distribution.

Rural Telecommunications Cuts

Last month, the state drastically cut subsidies that help providers offer phone and Internet services in sparsely populated regions of the state. Some of those providers have filed suit to reverse the cuts in funding. State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, whose district includes several counties in East Texas, talks to the Standard.

Transmigrante Route

In the Rio Grande Valley, the border crossing at Los Indios caters to transmigrantes – Central Americans who journey through Mexico into the U.S. to buy American goods, and then return home to sell them. For years, Los Indios has been the only place the Mexican government allowed transmigrantes to cross. But that’s about to change. In December, Mexico  announced that transmigrante traffic would soon be processed in Ojinaga, just across the border from the Far West Texas town of Presidio. Abbie Perrault, managing editor of the Big Bend Sentinel, talks to the Standard.

Sounds of Texas: Sophie Lewis, Texas Beauty Queen

Metz Digital Archive

An elementary school in East Austin is closing forever in May. It’s one of the schools the Austin ISD board voted to close back in 2019, as the district’s population continues to drop. KUT’s Claire McInerny reports on how the Metz Elementary community and some college students worked together to preserve its legacy.

Republican Intraparty Fights

With Texas Republicans maintaining their one-party rule in the Texas Legislature, expect  intraparty fighting this session. That fighting could also be a result of some in the Texas GOP looking for their next move politically and whether Texas’ reliably red voters want to see their party shift more towards Trump-era politicking … or not. R.G. Ratcliffe has been writing for the Texas Monthly about what riffs we might see in the coming months against Republicans in the legislature.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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