AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded a Dec. 14 Fort Worth federal district court decision declaring unconstitutional the U.S. Affordable Care Act, widely known as “Obamacare.”

Ten months ago, Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel led a 20-state coalition lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law, arguing that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty in Obamacare’s individual mandate when it enacted President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul.

“Today’s ruling halts an unconstitutional exertion of federal power over the American healthcare system,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Our lawsuit seeks to effectively repeal Obamacare, which will give President Trump and Congress the opportunity to replace the failed social experiment with a plan that ensures Texans and all Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor.”

Supporters of the health care law said the federal district court’s ruling would be appealed.

TEA releases ratings

The Texas Education Agency on Dec. 12 released its final 2018 state academic accountability ratings for 1,200 school districts and charters and more than 8,700 campuses. 

Preliminary state accountability ratings were announced by TEA in August. The final ratings include results of an appeals process that provides districts and charters an opportunity to contest preliminary ratings.

The Texas Education Agency received 172 school district and campus-level appeals in 2018, compared to 66 in 2017. 

The ratings are available at www.tea.texas.gov.

Revenue is distributed

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Dec. 12 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts some $761 million in local sales tax allocations for the month of December. 

The amount is 9.5 percent more than the amount reported by the Office of the Comptroller in December 2017. Allocations are based on sales made in October by businesses that report tax monthly.

Abbott, Chamber chat

Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 10 participated in a "fireside chat" at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Association Committee of 100 meeting in Austin. 

The Committee of 100, or C100, is comprised of association executives from across the country that represent industries from energy to health care. Twice a year, C100 members meet to address issues facing the business community.

Abbott and C100 Chair Matt Shay discussed workforce development and strategies that promote economic success.

“CEOs and business leaders continue to invest in Texas because of our high quality workforce and our commitment to low taxes and reasonable regulations,” said Abbott. “However, as the global marketplace shifts to a 21st century economy, Texas must focus on the future. That is why the Lone Star State will continue to diversify its economy and invest in our workforce to ensure we remain a global powerhouse.”

Survey reveals priorities

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush on Dec. 11 announced the Texas General Land Office results of a regional planning studies survey of citizens, local officials, councils of government and river authorities in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Participants in the survey indicated flood control and drainage improvements are the top needs for their communities. Texas General Land Office will use the results of the survey to determine which projects would best address the concerns identified by local input, Bush said. 

More information is available at recovery.texas.gov.

TxDOT receives grant

The Texas Department of Transportation on Dec. 6 was awarded $50 million in federal grants to pay for critical improvements needed to address safety and connectivity in the booming Permian Basin. 

Through its Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation grants, the U.S. Department of Transportation is helping pave the way for Texans and the rest of the nation to have safe and improved access to oil and gas.

“Investments in our state’s roads and highways are an essential part of ensuring that Texas continues to grow and prosper,” said Gov. Abbott.

DPS starts social media

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Dec. 11 announced the launch of new social media accounts for the Texas Highway Patrol. 

The expanded social media network complements existing connections the department already has with communities on topics related to the highway patrol.

DPS Director Steven McCraw said, “We are pleased to announce that now you will also see the Texas Highway Patrol on its own social media channels, where you can follow along and connect with this dedicated group of men and women proudly serving and protecting our state.”