The U.S. Department of Justice on Aug. 22 announced it would file a lawsuit against the State of Texas over the state’s voter photo identification law, passed as Senate Bill 14 in 2011.
In filing the lawsuit, the federal agency said it seeks a declaration that SB 14 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (non-discrimination requirement) and the voting guarantees of the Fourteenth (due process and equal protection) and Fifteenth (right to vote) amendments to the United States Constitution.
According to a news release by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, “The United States’ complaint contends that SB 14 was adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group.”
Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reacted with releases of their own. Perry said, “The filing of endless litigation in an effort to obstruct the will of the people of Texas is what we have come to expect from Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama. We will continue to defend the integrity of our elections against this administration’s blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment.”
Abbott, on behalf of the state government, has filed 25 lawsuits against the Obama administration over a variety of issues such as voter ID, redistricting, environmental protection and the Affordable Care Act which some refer to as Obama Care. Within a much longer statement, Abbott said,
“Voter IDs have nothing to do with race, and they are free to anyone who needs one.”
PERRY SETS VOTING DATE
Gov. Perry took the official step of proclaiming Nov. 5 as Election Day for the nine proposed constitutional amendments approved by legislators last spring.
Texans who go to polls with proper identification in accordance with the state’s voter identification law will be able to vote “yes” or “no” on amendments dealing with topics ranging from property tax exemptions and municipal charters to funding for the state water plan and judicial conduct.
JOB COUNT GROWS IN JULY
Texas Workforce Commission on Aug. 16 reported the Texas economy added 19,900 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in July for a total of 293,000 jobs added since July 2012.
Also, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady in July at 6.5 percent. Texas’ unemployment rate remained below the nation’s July unemployment rate of 7.4 percent.
“As of July,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar, “Texas has maintained a positive annual growth rate for 39 straight months.”
TESTING SCORES IMPROVE
Education Commissioner Michael Williams on Aug. 21 announced that 2013 composite score for all Texas students taking the ACT college admission test hit a new high of 20.9 according to the testing company.
In addition, the composite scores for Texas White, Hispanic/Latino and African-American students are at all-time highs, matching or exceeding national composite scores in each of those student groups.
“Our state’s ongoing commitment to rigor in the classroom is clearly evident in these national results,” said Commissioner Williams. “In the coming years, the challenge will be in maintaining this momentum which has provided a strong foundation of success for all students, while also offering all students greater flexibility to make course choices.”
MEASLES ALERT IS ISSUED
Texas Department of State Health Services on Aug. 16 issued a health alert and announced six cases of measles had been confirmed in the last month, bringing the total to 11 cases confirmed for the year.
State health officials have asked health care providers to be on the lookout for potential exposures, particularly in the North Texas area.
While no measles cases were reported in 2012, six cases were reported in 2011, the agency reported, and said, “vaccination even shortly before or after exposure may prevent the disease or lessen the symptoms.”
DPS TO INCREASE PATROLS
Texas Department of Public Safety last week announced a planned increase in patrols through Sept. 9, including the Labor Day holiday weekend.
DPS troopers will focus on high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.
During the extended Labor Day law enforcement period last year, troopers made 1,879 DWI arrests, 24,779 speeding citations, 3,890 seat belt/child safety seat citations, 4,062 no-insurance tickets, 1,238 fugitive arrests, 895 felony arrests and 889 drug arrests during routine patrol operations.
Ed Sterling is member services director for the Texas Press Association, headquartered in Austin.