WEEKEND READ: Democrat walkout, solar rates and COVID-19 spread in Austin area

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Seats held by Democrats in the Texas House chamber were left empty on July 13, 2021, as nearly 60 of them fled the state for the nation’s Capital in an effort to block changes to Texas election laws.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week was no slouch when it came to big headlines in the state of Texas. Here are some of the highlights.

The biggest story of the week was the historic walkout of Texas Democrats from the state Capitol and onto a plane to Washington, D.C. — their last-ditch effort to block bills pushed by the GOP to enforce strict voting laws many say would restrict voting access.

Democratic lawmakers planned the move before Republicans could pass the controversial voting bills. Abbott and other state Republicans have zeroed in on “election integrity” bills since the November 2020 Election, although there’s no evidence any widespread voter fraud occurred.

The move was praised by some and condemned by others, notably Texas Republicans.

Meanwhile, a poll by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune reflected a similar feeling among Texas voters — with high numbers of Republican-identified voters saying it’s rare that eligible voters are preventing from voting, while high numbers of Democrat-identified voters said it happens frequently.

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More for solar power?

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative said it was considering increasing the rate for solar power customers. The proposed changes would also have affected non-solar customers.

‘Potentially illegal’ behavior

Governor Greg Abbott has requested the Texas Rangers investigate allegations of illegal behavior by staff at the state’s Juvenile Justice Department. KXAN investigators found a complaint filed against the agency just a few months ago with the U.S. Department of Justice.

‘COVID-19’ spread in the area

Williamson County reported a high rate of COVID-19 transmission after two weeks of sustained and rising community spread in the area. The county is now at the Orange Phase level of transmission, which is the second-highest level. The highest level, red, indicates uncontrolled community spread.

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