Court refuses to rehear case

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AUSTIN — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 denied the Obama administration’s petition for a rehearing of United States v. Texas, a high-profile immigration case.

Heard by the eight-member high court in April, the case ended in a 4-4 deadlock in a late-June ruling. The deadlock left in place a Texas federal district court’s temporary injunction freezing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s November 2014 policies known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.” The policies are aimed at forestalling the deportation of an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants and providing a conditional path to citizenship.

In December 2014, Texas was joined by a coalition of other states in a lawsuit challenging the policies as an unconstitutional federal overreach. In February 2015, Brownsville U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen sided with the plaintiffs and granted a petition for temporary injunction.

In November 2015, a three-member panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court’s injunction in a 2-1 split. The Obama administration then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton welcomed the high court’s Oct. 3 decision not to rehear the case. “The State of Texas’ position has been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court today as they denied the Obama administration’s petition to rehear the immigration case,” Paxton said. “Rewriting national immigration law requires the full and careful consideration of Congress,” he added.

Texas sends emergency aid

Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 6 reported that he had called Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina to offer assistance as their states prepared to deal with Hurricane Matthew. 

Abbott announced he had deployed a 30-member Texas A&M Forest Service All-Hazards Incident Management Team to Florida. The teams, coordinated by the forest service, consist of trained personnel from local jurisdictions. Other state agencies were on standby to respond to further requests from hurricane-impacted areas, Abbott said.

“As Hurricane Matthew prepares to impact the United States, it is crucial that our fellow Americans receive the assistance they need. I am confident that Texas’ dedicated emergency response professionals will strengthen the disaster response efforts at a time when local resources may be strained,” Abbott said.

Revenue for month is lower

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the state’s chief financial officer, on Oct. 5 said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.13 billion in September, an amount 3.9 percent lower than in September 2015.

“Subdued spending for oil and gas drilling continues to depress sales tax revenue,” Hegar said. “Consumer spending also appears to have slowed, as sales tax collections from retail trade were down from the previous year. In contrast, construction sector receipts continued to grow.”

Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in September is down 2.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Zika testing is recommended

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Oct. 3 issued a health alert encouraging health care providers in the Rio Grande Valley counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata to test for Zika virus infection in their patients.

Health officials are recommending testing of pregnant women who have at least two of the four most common Zika symptoms — fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis  — regardless of their travel history or other risk factors.

Officials continue to recommend that health care providers test anyone with at least three of the four most common symptoms statewide and all pregnant women who have traveled to an area with active Zika transmission, regardless of symptoms.

As of Oct. 7, Texas had 226 Zika cases reported among patients who contracted the disease while traveling elsewhere. While no cases are known to have originated in Texas, the Rio Grande Valley is considered to be at higher risk for Zika transmission, according to DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, because of previous regional outbreaks of dengue, a similar virus spread by the same type of mosquito.

Event promotes local produce

Oct. 1 marked the start of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s annual Local Products Challenge.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Oct. 3 said the event encourages schools to teach children about healthy foods produced in Texas and to incorporate more locally produced foods into school meals. More than 140 school districts and charter schools have pledged to participate.  

Miller said that for every $1 spent on local food, $2.16 of economic activity is generated. 

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

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