Wendy Davis in mid-September said she would publicly announce on Oct. 3 her decision to run, or not to run, for governor in 2014.
Sen. Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat now in her second term in the state Senate, gained acclaim in June when she filibustered for 11 hours to prevent a vote on legislation that was crafted to rechannel state-supported women’s health care programs and greatly reduce access to abortion services. Her action brought the first special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature to an end and prompted Gov. Rick Perry to call a second special session for the Republican-controlled House and Senate to pass the legislation Davis and a cohort of Democrats successfully but only temporarily managed to block.
Should Davis declare her candidacy, she almost certainly will face Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who months ago announced his intention to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for governor. Abbott made his announcement to seek the governorship soon after Gov. Perry said he would not seek another term. Perry has been the state’s chief executive since 2000, when as lieutenant governor he succeeded Gov. George W. Bush, who as president-elect left Texas for Washington, D.C.
Davis, 50, is a mother and an attorney. She earned her law degree from Harvard University.
OBAMACARE SIGN-UP BEGINS
With Oct. 1 marked as the open enrollment launch under the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010, the governor’s office, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of State Health Services have had little to offer in the way of information for citizens concerned about access to health care coverage and the cost of it.
Meanwhile, however, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has been urging all Americans to visit the web site healthcare.gov to learn about the federal health care law and to enroll for coverage scheduled to begin Jan. 1. Nearly 5 million uninsured Texans reportedly will be able to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the federal health agency said.
Gov. Perry, an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, recently suggested that instead of “Obamacare” the federal government issue Medicaid block grants to states so Texas and other states could manage their own health care.
BROWN NAMED TO HIGH COURT
Gov. Perry on Sept. 26 appointed Jeff Brown of Houston to fill the Texas Supreme Court seat vacated in September by Justice Nathan Hecht, who the governor appointed as chief justice of the court following the resignation of Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson.
Brown, a Republican, has been serving as a judge on the Houston-based Fourteenth Court of Appeals since 2007. He earned his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and he served as a clerk to Texas Supreme Court Justices Jack Hightower and Greg Abbott.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IMPROVES
Texas Workforce Commission on Sept. 20 announced that in August the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased slightly to 6.4 percent, down from 6.5 percent in July.
From August 2012 to August 2013, Texas added 274,700 jobs. The trend line reveals slow but steady improvement, as the state’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics tabulated the national unemployment rate for August at 7.3 percent.
MORE STUDENTS TAKE SAT, AP
Public school student participation rates for the College Board SAT and Advanced Placement exams increased over the previous school year, the Texas Education Agency reported on Sept 26.
Some 156,877 Texas public school students took the SAT college entrance exam in 2012-2013, reflecting an increase of 0.2 percent from 2011-2012. Test takers in the Class of 2013 represent 56 percent of the state’s public high school graduates and 62 percent of the test takers identified themselves as minority students.
For the first time in state history, more Hispanic students (59,294) than white students (58,307) took the SAT in Texas public schools, the state education agency reported, adding that the 204,795 Texas public school students who took Advanced Placement exams in 2012-2013 represent an increase of 5.4 percent from 2011-2012 and a 37.6 percent jump over the past five school years.
MOBILE VOTER ID STATIONS ROLL
Texans who don’t have photo identification that is acceptable for voting in Texas may apply for a state-issued election identification certificate at 25 mobile stations, beginning Oct. 1.
In a joint announcement on Sept. 24, Texas Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon and Texas Secretary of State John Steen said the mobile stations are part of an ongoing effort to provide election ID certificates to Texans in need of photo identification now required to vote in elections in Texas.
Visit votetexas.gov online for details and a schedule of mobile station locations and for updates.
Ed Sterling is member services director for the Texas Press Association, headquartered in Austin.