The Seabreeze Beacon

Capital Highlights Week of July 8 – 12


Proposed fed rule would protect workers from extreme heat

 A year after a new state law ended mandatory water breaks in Texas, a proposed federal rule would protect millions of workers from the risks caused by extreme heat, The Texas Tribune reported.
The rule would require employers to create plans to prevent heat injuries and illnesses and ensure workers get access to drinking water, rest breaks and control of indoor heat. It would apply to all employers whose businesses are under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Last year, Texas legislators passed House Bill 2127, which barred cities and counties from passing ordinances that go farther than state law in a number of areas, including labor regulations. That measure eliminated ordinances in Austin and Dallas that mandated water breaks for construction workers, The Tribune reported.
“Greg Abbott tried to take rest breaks away from everyday Texans, but now we’re one step closer to securing heat protections for all Americans on the job,” U.S. Rep. Greg Casar, D-Austin, said last week. “Employers can adopt OSHA’s proposed rule and protect their workers today.”
The proposed rule still has to go through the regulatory approval process. It likely will face opposition from industry groups.

AG’s office must collect fines from its boss

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton owes the state of Texas more than $11,000 in fines for filing late campaign finance reports, and the office he heads is now charged with collecting the money,  the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Texas Ethics Commission referred Paxton’s unpaid fines to the attorney general’s office in April, according to public records. Paxton is not the only elected official who owes the state for campaign violation fines. Hundreds of candidates and elected officials together owe the state more than $700,000. His office has declined to sue to collect the unpaid fines, according to the Chronicle.
The executive director of Common Cause, a watchdog group, called the situation a clear conflict of interest.
“If I didn’t pay a parking ticket and incurred a fine as a penalty, most Texans would find it absurd if I also got to review my fine and have a role in deciding whether any action should be taken to collect that fine,” Anthony Gutierrez said.
The office has only filed one lawsuit against a public official who owes ethics fines since September 2023.

Abbott’s border wall decades away from completion

The state-funded border wall announced by Gov. Greg Abbott three years ago is proceeding at about a half mile a week, The Tribune reported. At that rate, completion of the wall along the state’s 1,254-mile border will take about 30 years and cost around $20 billion to complete. Thus far, 34 miles of wall have been completed at a price tag of about $25 million per mile.
State lawmakers thus far have approved more than $3 billion for the wall, out of the $11 billion allocated for the border crackdown known as Operation Lone Star. The remainder of the money has gone to sending state troopers and National Guard soldiers to the border, as well as transporting migrants to Democrat-controlled cities outside of Texas.
Some Republicans are expressing concern about the rising costs of the wall.
“I am, too, concerned that we’re spending a whole lot of money to give the appearance of doing something rather than taking the problem on to actually solve it, and until we do that, I don’t expect to see much happen,” state Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.
Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

TxDOT asks for feedback on 10-year plan

The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking input on a proposed 10-year plan that proposes spending a record $104.2 billion for transportation to improve safety, address congestion and improve roadways.
The plan also addresses public transportation, maritime, aviation, rail, freight and international trade, and bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, according to TxDOT.
The Unified Transportation Program is updated annually and serves as the agency’s 10-year blueprint for statewide projects.
“Collaborating with our transportation partners and communities ensures that we continue connecting you with Texas while prioritizing safety, delivery, innovation and stewardship,” said Marc Williams, TxDOT executive director.
The comment period is underway and ends on Aug. 5. To learn about different ways to comment, go to:

Report: Weed is essentially legal in Texas

A Texas Monthly investigation into eight hemp dispensaries across the state found that all were selling cannabis with potent levels of THC, the psychoactive compound still considered illegal in Texas beyond low levels.
In 2018, the Farm Bill passed by Congress said cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC is considered hemp and not restricted under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Texas adopted these standards the following year, making hemp legal in the state. That resulted in hemp dispensaries sprouting across the state.
Russell Gold with Texas Monthly told the Texas Standard that samples purchased at dispensaries across the state were sent off for testing.
“The lowest amount of THC we found was nine times the legal limit, but we actually purchased some that was 40 times the legal limit,” Gold said. “And what that means is that this isn’t hemp. It is marijuana by any definition.”
Gold said he was unaware of any dispensary in the state being shut down for selling what is essentially cannabis.
“I mean, there are penalties because they’re not supposed to, but nobody’s paying attention,” he said.

Shark attack injures 4 on the Fourth at South Padre

Four people were injured after a shark attack on South Padre Island, the Austin American-Statesman reported. A news release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said two people were bitten and two slightly injured when encountering the shark.
Authorities believe a single shark was behind all four incidents, occurring over two hours. Such attacks are rare, with 36 reported last year in the United States, according to the University of Florida’s Shark Attack File.

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, Lufkin and Cedar Park. Email: [email protected]

This week's The Seabreeze Beacon

Never miss any important news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Trending News