State Capital Highlights

By Ed Sterling, Texas Press Association —

AUSTIN — Texans, Americans and citizens of the world in the past week remembered the shock and aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago in Dallas, on Nov. 22, 1963.

Many newspapers and other media reflected on coverage of those days, some expanding on how the assassination changed views on public safety and kindled the public's desire for a faster-moving stream of news.

A ceremony was held in Dallas on Nov. 22 at Dealey Plaza, adjacent to the street where assassin's bullets struck President Kennedy and then-Texas Gov. John Connally, who survived wounds to his chest and wrist from a bullet that first passed through the president's body.

Eyewitnesses at the scene of the shooting and related events in 1963, in news accounts published in recent days, and at the heavily reported memorial ceremony in Dallas last week, expressed their persistent impressions of what they saw and heard.

Court will not intervene

New abortion regulations passed by the Texas Legislature last summer will stand, pursuant to an order issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 19.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, rejected Planned Parenthood's motion for the high court to intervene in its case challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions in the new law.

On Oct. 30, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a lower court's stay preventing parts of the new law from taking effect. The short-lived stay was granted on Oct. 28 by Austin U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who ruled unconstitutional the law's requirement that an abortion provider have admitting privileges at a nearby, state-approved “ambulatory surgical center” and the law's prohibition against a physician using their own medical judgment in prescribing an abortion-inducing medication.

So, the case remains under the purview of the Fifth Circuit and arguments in the appeal are scheduled for early January. The lawsuit is Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Services et al. v. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Commissioner David Lakey of the Texas Department of State Health Services and Mari Robinson, executive director of the Texas Medical Board.

Not taken up in the court motions was the new law's prohibition on abortions after the 20th week of gestation.

AG praises agreement

Attorney General Abbott on Nov. 12 lauded an agreement reached by American Airlines and U.S. Airways expanding the requirement that American maintain daily flight services to Texas communities from three years to five years.

Abbott also praised the fact that Texarkana was added to the daily service commitment list. Abbott negotiated an agreement with American on Oct. 1, to ensure that 22 airports across the state would continue to offer daily departures and arrivals. The original agreement also guaranteed that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport would remain a hub and the headquarters of the merged entities would remain in the DFW metropolitan area, according to a statement by Abbott's office.

Job numbers increase

Texas added 43,800 jobs over the last two months, reflecting an improvement in overall job figures.

In a Nov. 22 statement by the Texas Workforce Commission, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Texas fell to 6.2 percent in October, down from 6.3 percent in September, a point below the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent for the same month.

“The private sector in Texas recorded a strong annual growth rate of 2.9 percent in October, adding nearly 265,000 jobs over the year,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar. “We encourage job seekers, in particular our returning veterans, to visit their local Workforce Solutions office for assistance in finding work.”

Group shuts down ‘hunt'

The Young Conservatives of Texas, a student group at the University of Texas at Austin, called off a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game that it had planned to conduct on the UT campus last week.

University President Bill Powers denounced the activity and called on the group to cancel it. The group's chairman, Lorenzo Garcia, complied.

Reportedly, the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Abbott, who is running for governor, distanced itself from Garcia, a former field director for the campaign.


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