Child care centers closing across the state
An unprecedented number of child care centers are expected to close across the state as pandemic relief funding ends, the Texas Standard reported. A survey conducted by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children of about 1,600 child care programs indicated 44% were likely to close their doors without additional funding. Federal pandemic relief funds ended for most centers in June.
The Texas Legislature declined to pass a $2.3 billion House proposal for child care providers, with the intent that the money be used to raise the average wage of staff from $12 per hour to at least $15 per hour.
Since 2020, Texas child care providers have received more than $4 billion in COVID-19 funding, according to the Texas Tribune. The money helped cover child care costs for more than 800,000 Texas children.
“This is going to be something that affects every community here in the state of Texas and will have a lasting effect on our economy as the supply of workers in all industries is shortened because of the lack of child care,” Cody Summerville, executive director of TAEYC, said.
No additional impeachment articles for Paxton
The deadline has passed with no additional impeachment charges against suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who already faces 20 articles of impeachment in a trial set in the Senate for Sept. 5, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
House members in late May voted 121-23 to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, accusing Paxton of bribery and misuse of office. Paxton was indicted in 2015 for securities fraud, with that trial now set for 2024.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the impeachment trial, said it will likely last two to three weeks.
New law cracks down on street racing
Gov. Greg Abbott last week signed two laws cracking down on illegal street racing. House Bills 1442 and 2899 enhance penalties for those involved in such activities and provide law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to address those crimes.
“Street takeover” events have been occurring in Austin, Fort Worth and other cities, where intersections are blocked by vehicles doing donuts in intersections while others film the event.
Abbott ceremonially signed the bill in Fort Worth, where a street takeover led to a pair of fatalities.
“Street racing and street takeovers are not a victimless crime,” said Mayor Mattie Parker. “Right here in Fort Worth, we lost a wonderful young couple who had three children. These types of incidents are all too common across the country.”
Abbott announced the formation of a task force in February to combat street takeovers. The Texas Department of Public Safety, working with local law enforcement, has made more than 50 arrests and nearly 400 traffic citations related to illegal street racing across the state.
continues to rise as state bakes
Texas A&M Forest Service is warning of increased wildfire danger as high temperatures and dry conditions continue to cover the state.
“Since mid-July, wildfire activity has increased substantially across Texas due to expanding drought conditions,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “Over the past two weeks, state and local firefighters have responded to 280 wildfires that burned almost 10,000 acres.”
While the risk of wildfire has increased, the five active wildfires across the state have largely been contained. The number of counties with burn bans in place increased to 168 as of last weekend.
Texas leads nation in ‘family
Cases of “family annihilation,” where one family member kills at least two close family members, occur every five days in the United States, according to a study originally made by the IndyStar and analyzed by the Statesman. That analysis indicated since 2020 such homicides have occurred in Texas 33 times —more than any other state.
Firearms are used most frequently in family annihilations in the state, the study showed. Texas, the second most populous state in the nation, leads the country in firearm-related deaths, with 4,613 reported in the state in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The data focused on the two and a half years since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the stressors of the COVID pandemic exacerbated the issues around domestic violence and mental health,” Mikisha Hooper, with the Texas Council on Family Violence, told the Texas Standard. “So that isolation, the financial pressure, and those types of things are exacerbating the increase in the number of homicides that we’re seeing,” she said.
Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.