State of Texas: Going beyond thoughts and prayers

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week on State of Texas: the Senate holds their first committee meeting to decide how to improve school safety, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor discusses his campaign plans, a Dallas journalist explains his investigation into the shortcomings of Texas Medicaid and the land commissioner sets the record straight on his plans for our state’s most historic landmark. 

Senate holds first school safety hearing

In the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shooting, Texas lawmakers have promised to go beyond thoughts and prayers.

Early this week, they took their first steps toward improving school safety. The Senate Committee on Violence in Schools and School Safety met to hear a variety of proposals that outlined potential strategies to keep students safe. Those proposals included increased law enforcement and other forms of security.

Metal detectors proved to be a point of contention.

State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, insisted, “I know no one wants to talk about metal detectors, but that’s the only way you’re going to keep guns out of the schools.”

Mike Matranga, the executive director for Security and School Safety in Texas City, contested this suggestion, saying, “I would much rather have a well-trained officer in my school rather than a metal detector — every day.”

The young activists in the Austin chapter of March for Our Lives noted that one topic of discussion was missing from the hearings: gun restrictions. These students are demanding a seat at the table. 

The one gun control measure being taken into consideration is a “red flag law.” That would allow authorities to take guns away from dangerous individuals. The House Criminal Jurisprudence committee will hear public testimony on these laws on June 25.

The race for lieutenant governor

Among the Texas Democrats preparing for next week’s state convention is a candidate for lieutenant governor, Mike Collier.

Collier sat down with us to discuss how he plans to break the 20-year losing streak for Texas Democrats in statewide elections.

Collier says voters “know that the Republicans are not addressing these issues or solving problems. They’re wasting time with bathrooms and all sorts of stunts and gimmicks. So, of course we can win.”

He also criticized incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Property tax reform is poised to be a key issue in these upcoming elections.

Collier claims, “The problem with property taxes … is Dan Patrick’s fiscal policies.”

Patrick spoke this past Friday at the Republican State Convention and touted his accomplishments when it comes to the state budget. “We have been fiscally sound,” Patrick told a cheering audience. He said he was proud that the Texas Senate fought to prevent lawmakers from tapping into the Rainy Day Fund.

Patrick then raised the possibility of using money from the fund, citing needs caused by events like Hurricane Harvey and the Santa Fe school shootings. 

“We will need to spend money to help school districts who have lost property value,” Patrick told the convention crowd. “We are going to have to spend money on securing our schools.” 

Pain and Profit: Health care failures in Texas

Health care companies are under fire for prioritizing profits over care of disabled children and adults.

Dallas Morning News reporter David McSwane led a year-long investigation into the issue and found that “these private companies who have been entrusted and paid to deliver care by the state of Texas were often not listening to what the doctor said was medically necessary is the term they use.”

McSwane’s series of reports started by highlighting the preventable death of a toddler.

The investigation also uncovered hundreds of cases of companies disregarding doctor’s orders to save money. Those reports could lead to action.

Next week, a Texas House committee legislators will hold a hearing to look at ways to investigate some of the issues pointed out in the reports. 

George P. Bush remembers the Alamo

After an audit criticizing the state’s management of the Alamo leaked in February, Land Commissioner George P. Bush had two words to respond, “fake news.”

Now, the real audit is out, and it’s essentially the same as the report he dismissed. It cites a lack of transparency about money for the Alamo.

We asked Commissioner Bush why he initially called the report false. He said that while the conclusions are the same, the leaked version has “some differences” from the final version.

“The point of all this is that an employee leaked a confidential document and that breaches the trust of the public,” Bush said.

Bush also outlined a plan for the future of the Alamo. His plan has 3 key aspects.

First, he emphasized preserving the two remaining original buildings, the church and the long barrack.

Next, he wants to reclaim more area of the original battlefield. Third and last, he wants to build a “Texas-sized museum” to exhibit the many historical artifacts associated with the Alamo, including items donated by musician Phil Collins.

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