Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Be patient, the state Department of State Health Services urged Texans on Sept. 30, because the supply of H1N1 “swine” flu vaccine over the next few weeks will be low.

“We’ve been told that we’ll have about 15 million doses for Texas after all is said and done, but it won’t be available all at once,” said Dr. David Lakey, state health commissioner. “The vaccine will trickle in week to week, especially at first. It’s a fluid situation driven primarily by how much vaccine the manufacturers produce each week.”

Some 3.4 million doses of the vaccine had been projected for Texas by mid-October, but the latest estimates are that no more than 1.7 million doses will be available by then.

Comptroller comments on study

A study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia shows Hispanic households contributed more than $171 billion to the Texas economy in 2008.

The study also shows Texas Hispanics’ annual buying power is expected to grow to nearly $252 billion by 2013 - a 47 percent increase in five years.

“We expect to see significant growth in Hispanic-owned businesses,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Texas was home to 8.9 million Hispanics in 2008, 37 percent of the state’s population. And, in the 2008 Hispanic Business 500, the Top 20 Hispanic businesses in Texas produced revenues of nearly $4 billion and employed 14,617 people.

Combs said Hispanic companies can benefit from state certification as Historically Underutilized Businesses.

HUB certification, plus registration on the state’s Centralized Master Bidders List, can help businesses win contracts with state agencies which are required to make a good faith effort to purchase goods and services from minority- and woman-owned businesses.

“The nation is currently observing Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the rich history and culture of Hispanic people,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said. “Here in Texas, Hispanic Heritage Month is also a time to reflect on the enormous contribution Hispanic families and Hispanic-owned businesses make to our economy.”

Program’s food list improves

A policy switch took effect Oct. 1 that makes it possible for WIC program participants to receive a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and baby foods in an effort to reduce obesity and encourage breastfeeding.

WIC is the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

“The purpose is to provide healthier, more diverse food choices,” state health commissioner Lakey said Sept. 28. “The new foods give participants more nutritional variety and value, less fat and more fiber.”

Food choices before the policy change included milk, infant formula, cheese, cereals, dried beans, canned tuna, peanut butter, canned or frozen concentrate fruit juice and fresh or canned carrots.

All Texas participants will be transitioned to the new food choices by January.

AG to appeal

same-sex case

A Dallas state district judge on Oct. 1 ruled that two men who were married in another state could get a divorce in Texas, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The legal argument behind the ruling is that the Texas law and state constitution banning same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he would file an appeal to the ruling, saying, “The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman.”

Long-imprisoned man is pardoned

Gov. Perry on Sept. 30 granted a pardon for innocence to James Lee Woodard after DNA testing proved he did not sexually assault or murder Beverly Ann Jones in 1980.

Woodward was sentenced to prison in 1981. He was released in April 2008 after serving more than 27 years.

Budget board

OKs hiring of 250

The Legislative Budget Board on Oct. 3 decided to allow the state Health and Human Services Commission to hire 250 more workers at an annual cost of $11 million to process food stamp applications.

Current enrollment stands at 2.8 million in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but applications have increased dramatically in the current economic downtown.