Paxton sends letters to cities that passed bag ban ordinances

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AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on July 2 notified 11 Texas cities that their ordinances against plastic shopping bags had been knocked down by the Texas Supreme Court.
Paxton said he issued letters to the cities of Austin, Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Kermit, Freer and South Padre Island “to ensure awareness of the recent ruling and waste management responsibilities Texas law places on municipalities.”
In January, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in the City of Laredo v. Laredo Merchants Association and on June 22 the court struck down the bag ordinance. The city maintained it was not a bag ban but “an incremental implementation plan towards a cleaner city.”
However, the Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling siding with the merchants association in finding that the state’s Solid Waste Disposal Act preempts the city's ordinance, and no city ordinance may conflict with a state law.

Request for aid granted
Gov. Greg Abbott’s federal disaster request for individual assistance for Cameron and Hidalgo counties following recent severe weather and flooding has been granted, the governor’s office announced July 6.
Abbott made the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on June 26 after visiting Edinburg, where local officials briefed him on the flooding and response and recovery efforts following a storm that hit South Texas June 18-22. The weather event and its aftermath are being referred to as “The Great June 2018 Flood.” The National Weather Service has estimated that the event’s breadth and impact could turn out to be greater than that of Hurricane Dolly in 2008.
“I thank the president and his administration for their swift response to aid Texans in the Rio Grande Valley as they continue to recover from these devastating floods. Going forward, the state of Texas will continue to work with local leaders to ensure the needs of those affected by the floods are being met,” Abbott said.

Illnesses tied to parasite
The Texas Department of State Health Services on July 2 announced some 56 cases of illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora had been identified since the beginning of May.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated with Cyclospora. The main symptom of the illness is watery diarrhea lasting from a few days to a few months.
State and local health agencies are working to determine if there is a common source for the infections. They recommend thorough washing of all fresh produce.

Revenue total increases
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on July 3 announced state sales tax revenue totaled $2.77 billion in June, an amount 13.7 percent more than reported for the month of June 2017. 
Sales tax revenue increased for almost all major economic sectors, Hegar said. “The strong revenue growth was led by collections from the mining and manufacturing sectors. The construction, wholesale and retail trade sectors also saw strong gains,” he added. 
Also, total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in June 2018 was up 12.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Sales tax revenue is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 58 percent of all tax collections. Revenue from other major taxes on motor vehicle sales and rentals, motor fuel and oil and natural gas production also rose in June 2018, Hegar said.
More details are available online via the Comptroller’s Monthly State Revenue Watch at comptroller.texas.gov.

Inspection totals released
The Texas Department of Public Safety announced some 7,980 commercial motor vehicles were inspected in Roadcheck 2018, a national commercial motor vehicle safety effort conducted June 5-7.
Commercial vehicle enforcement troopers, specially trained highway patrol troopers, civilian inspectors, compliance review investigators and local partner agencies participated in the effort, in which 1,975 of the 18-wheelers, buses and other commercial vehicles inspected were placed out of service for a variety of safety violations until appropriate repairs could be made. Issues with brakes and defective tires were among the most common infractions that led to out-of-service violations.
Drivers also were checked for compliance with state and federal laws, and 301 drivers were placed out of service. Among the violations were failing to have the proper type of driver license for the vehicle being driven and violation of hours-of-service limits.
In all, 1,258 citations and 18,178 warnings were issued, the DPS said.

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

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