AUSTIN - More than 5,300 wildfires have burned an estimated 940,000 acres and destroyed 140 homes in Texas, the governorís office reported on March 20.
Gov. Rick Perry is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more assistance in dealing with three months of wildfires that have burned in 216 of Texasí 254 counties since Jan. 1.
In a letter to FEMA chief David Paulison, Perry requested that the state be reimbursed in full for wildfire-related efforts carried out since January.
State and local governments have spent $20.5 million on this so far.
FEMA has spent $75 million. But FEMA isnít the only agency that can help. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, asking for an increase in assistance for farmers and ranchers who have suffered damages due to wildfires.
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department reported a massive wildfire that torched 95 percent of the 15,200-acre Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in South Texas, but much of the wildlife on the stateís premier public hunting site escaped harm.
Bowling Congress to move here
The United States Bowling Congress plans to move its headquarters from Greendale, Wis., to Arlington, Texas, and bring 200 jobs. A $693,000 award from the Texas Enterprise Fund may have helped in the groupís decision to relocate.
The fund, created by the Legislature in 2003, is used to recruit and bolster business. To date, the fund has helped projects generating more than 51,800 new jobs and $15.6 billion in capital investment in the state, the governor said.
Ethics agency fines
On Feb. 12, the Texas Ethics Commission adopted a ruling that former state Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, used campaign donations to buy real estate, in violation of the state election law. The commission imposed a $10,000 civil penalty against Goodman and on March 11 ordered payment within 30 days.
The ruling came about as the result of a complaint filed in 2006 by
the Dallas-based Texas Values in Action Coalition. Goodman, who represented House District 93 from 1991 to 2006, on March 20 said he plans to appeal the ruling.
Travis DA investigates speaker
When the 81st regular session of the Texas Legislature convenes in January, the 150 members of the House may reelect House Speaker Tom Craddick or choose someone else. The office of the Travis County district attorney has been investigating a criminal complaint against Craddick, R-Midland.
Texans for Public Justice, a government watchdog group, filed the criminal complaint against Craddick, alleging he sent campaign money to a political action group and illegally instructed the group to write checks to the campaign funds of lawmakers that might make a difference to him early next year.
State law prohibits the use of campaign funds for such a purpose, and Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said he plans to review the matter.
County asks AG about bonuses
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on March 11 received a request for an opinion on a legal matter that may be of interest to all 254 counties in Texas, and to all taxpayers.
Midland County Attorney Russell W. Malm, in a written request, asked if it is legal for the county to pay performance bonuses to its elected officials.
Malm said the county judge is interested in adopting such a plan, subject to approval by the county commissioners court. The attorney generalís office issues most opinions within 180 days of the request.
Berlangaís request is denied
The State Board of Education will vote on a new set of English reading and writing standards at its March 27 meeting. A week before the meeting board member Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi and state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, asked that time be allotted for expert input on learning styles of Hispanic children. SBOE chair Don McLeroy of College Station said there was no time available to accept the proposed input.