Paxton joins effort against climate change lawsuit

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AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Oct. 5 announced he had joined an Indiana-led coalition of 11 state attorneys general in a friend-of-the-court brief seeking dismissal of a climate-change lawsuit against the energy industry.
King County, Washington, filed the lawsuit naming the oil companies BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch and ConocoPhillips as defendants. Paxton and the other attorneys general allege in their friend-of-the-court brief that “King County’s objections to fossil fuel are based in public policy, not law, and are thus inappropriate for judicial resolution.”
King County is seeking a court order requiring the named oil companies and several unnamed individuals to fund the costs of adapting the county’s storm-water management, salmon fishery recovery, public health infrastructure and more. In addition, the county seeks to hold the companies responsible for “knowingly contributing to climate disruptions and putting the residents of King County at greater risk of floods, landslides, ocean acidification, sea level rise and other impacts.”
Jurisdictions in California, New York and Colorado have filed lawsuits similar to King County’s. According to information posted by King County, areas within the county “that were once above the mean high tide line now experience regular flooding.” The county says the mean high tide line is projected to increase by as much as 56 inches in the Puget Sound region by the year 2100.

Anti-gang funds come
Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 3 announced $5,158,000 in grant funding through the Local Border Security Program. He said it would help secure the Texas border from gangs and violent criminals.
One hundred grant awards have been released to border communities and law enforcement groups for intelligence sharing, collaboration and efforts to crack down on border-related criminal activity.
“We must continue doing all we can to stop violent criminals and gangs from coming across our borders and into our communities,” Abbott said.
Last year, grantees reported over 800,000 miles patrolled and 1,200 felony arrests made by grant-paid officers supporting the border initiative, Abbott said.

Revenue total increases
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Oct. 2 said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.7 billion in September, 14.8 percent more than the amount reported in September 2017.
“While the fastest growth in tax collections was fueled by business spending, especially in oil- and gas-related sectors, robust consumer spending spurred significant increases from restaurants and retail trade as well,” Hegar said.
Revenue from other major taxes on motor vehicle sales and rentals, motor fuel and oil and natural gas production also rose in the month of September, Hegar added.
Details on all monthly collections are available at comptroller.texas.gov under "Monthly State Revenue Watch."
Bus grant is received
The Texas Department of Transportation announced it would receive $7 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program to help rural transit providers buy new buses.
In addition to bus purchases, the grant money helps rural transit agencies purchase related equipment and construct bus-related facilities. The majority of Texas’ rural transit districts are expected to receive funding based on replacement needs.
TxDOT deputy executive director Marc Williams said, “Providing newer buses to our rural transit providers means providing more efficient travel for Texans in need.”

Flu shots are promoted
Oct. 1 was Texas Influenza Awareness Day, and the Texas Department of State Health Services is recommending flu shots for everyone over six months of age.
Early vaccination is important because it takes about two weeks for the body to make flu antibodies after the vaccine is administered, the DSHS said.
“This year, there are many different flu vaccines available and they have all been updated for this flu season. The nasal spray flu vaccine, also known as FluMist, is once again on the list of recommended flu vaccines for the upcoming flu season,” said DSHS Infectious Disease Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Shuford. “There are also special flu vaccines designed for people 65 years and older. Your doctor can help you figure out which vaccine is right for you,” she added.
Texans may contact health care providers, local health departments or pharmacies, or use the Vaccine Finder at TexasFlu.org to find out where flu shots are available.

Ed Sterling is director of member services for the Texas Press Association.

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