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TEXAS PRESS NOTES

January 08, 2020 - 00:00
Posted in:
  • TEXAS PRESS NOTES

State Capital Highlights

Abbott, Patrick react after

shooting incident at church

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt.Gov. Dan Patrick released statements following a deadly shooting on Dec. 29 at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a city of 16,000 people on the west side of Fort Worth.

Two church members were killed in the shooting, which occurred during Sunday services. A possible motive for the shooting is under investigation.

The shooter was shot and killed at the scene by a member of the congregation who is a member of the church’s volunteer security detail and is a firearms instructor. “Places of worship are meant to be sacred and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Abbott said.

Patrick said the Texas Department of Public Safety is leading the investigation in cooperation with the White Settlement Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

Revenue total is higher

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Jan. 3 reported that state sales tax revenue totaled $3.01 billion in the month of December, 4.8% more than the amount reported for December 2018.

“Growth in state sales tax revenue was led by receipts from the construction, information services and restaurant sectors,” Hegar said in a news release. “While revenue growth was slightly buoyed by collections from remote sellers and online marketplace providers, collections from retail trade were depressed due to significantly fewer Christmas shopping days in November this year compared to the previous year.”

The majority of December sales tax revenue is based on sales made in November and remitted to the agency in December. Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in December 2019 was up 6.0% compared to the same period a year ago.

Sales tax is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 57% of all tax collections, according to the comptroller’s office.

In December 2019, Texas collected the following revenue from other major taxes: -Motor vehicle sales and rentals, $427.3 million, up 7.9% from December 2018;

-Motor fuel, $310.7 million, down 1.1% from December 2018;

-Natural gas production, $114.0 million, down 33.8% from December 2018; and -Oil production, $362.5 million, up 18.3% from December 2018.

Toll hike takes effect

The Texas Department of Transportation’s annual toll rate increase took effect Jan. 1.

According to TxDOT, the biggest increase will be felt by drivers who still pay by mail, as the surcharge for those transactions will increase to 50% of the base rate paid by all toll users. Motorists with a TxTag account will experience an even larger comparative discount on tolls – a discount of 33% compared to Pay By Mail rates, the agency said in a late-December news release.

The 50 percent surcharge for Pay By Mail transactions helps defray the rising administrative costs associated with these mailed payments, such as viewing license plate images, generating and mailing invoices and processing payments. Raising the surcharge to 50% also brings TxDOT Pay By Mail rates in line with other toll authorities in Austin and Dallas and across the country, and further incentivizes having a TxTag account.

Flu season hits hard

In its weekly update on Jan. 2, the Texas Department of State Health Services encouraged “everyone to get vaccinated now.” The most recent flu surveillance report shows widespread flu activity in Texas and high levels of influenza-like illness. There have been eight pediatric flu-related deaths reported in the 2019-2020 flu season.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by one of a number of related viruses. The flu vaccine is made up of strains similar to ones likely to be circulating in North America, and vaccination is especially important for people with chronic health conditions and weaker immune systems and their caregivers, the DSHS said.

Additional information about influenza and ways to stop the spread of the flu virus can be found online at texasflu.org.