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Capital Highlights has new author

July 29, 2020 - 00:00
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  • Capital Highlights has new author

Ed Sterling wrote this column for almost three decades, so let’s open by celebrating his contributions to the Texas Press Association and its members. Ed was the calm, steady voice keeping us informed and interested.

I am honored to have been asked by Mike Hodges, TPA executive director, and Donnis Baggett, executive vice president, to continue the important work of keeping Texans up to date on what’s happening in Austin. The world has changed dramatically since Ed started writing in the early 1990s, but the need for being informed remains greater than ever.

Electric news for the economy

A jolt of good news came late in the week when Tesla announced it would build an electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in Travis County, bringing at least 5,000 jobs and $ 1 billion in capital investments.

Austin, offering about $ 60 million in local tax breaks, beat out Tulsa and other American cities vying for the prize. The factory will produce Tesla’s Cybertruck, Semi and Models 3 and Y and be built on 2,000 acres near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

“We’re going to make it a factory that is going to be stunning,” Tesla top executive Elon Musk said . “It’s right on the Colorado River. So we’re actually going to have to have a boardwalk over you, hiking, biking trail. It’s going to basically be an ecological paradise.

Getting rid of gobbledygook

Jargon isn’t just hard on readers. It also can be bad for business, Texas’ insurance commissioner wrote in a column last week.

Kent Sullivan said he has been promoting plain language since becoming insurance commissioner three years ago. One example of policy legalese he noted: “You may qualify for a contingent non-forfeiture benefit.”

Instead of this gobbledygook, Sullivan wrote, “Why not just say you can still receive benefits even if you stop paying for this policy?”

The coronavirus outbreak has spotlighted potential confusion and costly legal fallout caused by bewildering insurance policy language, Sullivan said. “We need a coordinated effort to strengthen and enforce plain language requirements in state laws,” he added.

ADA turns 30

July 26 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The US Census Bureau estimates that one in four Americans, or 61 million adults, have a disability.

The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will have its quarterly business meeting from 8 am-5 pm July 30 and 8 am-noon July 31. Because of the pandemic, the meeting will be via Zoom.

One agenda item: How educators wearing face masks affects students who are deaf or who have hearing loss. The full agenda and Zoom meeting information may be found at

Chris Cobler is a board member and past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He welcomes email at