AUSTIN — Before voter-approved amendments to the Texas Constitution are set in stone, it is the governor's duty to publicly proclaim the results of the election.

On Dec. 4, Gov. Greg Abbott posted such a proclamation, having first certified the tabulation prepared by the Texas secretary of state, the state’s chief election officer.

In his proclamation, Abbott listed the nine of 10 proposed amendments that passed in the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election. The one that did not pass, and therefore not included in the proclamation, was Proposition 1, the proposed constitutional amendment allowing a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.

Complete results of the election are available at sos.texas.gov and analyses of proposed constitutional amendments are available from the Legislative Research Library of Texas at lrl.texas.gov.

Data resource launches

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Nov. 29 announced an online resource to update the public on response efforts regarding the Nov. 27 TPC Group Plant Explosion in Port Neches.

More than 20 federal, state, county and local government entities worked together in response to the explosion that resulted in three injuries and the release of butadiene, a petrochemical used in the manufacture of tires. The EPA and the TCEQ continue to be focused on providing the assistance and coordination needed to address on-site and off-site environmental impacts.

The resource, called Story Map, can be accessed online via epa.gov and tceq.texas.gov. Response actions, maps and photos are featured.

Revenue total is higher

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Dec. 3 announced state sales tax revenue totaled $3.18 billion in November, 6.2 percent more than the amount reported in November 2018.

Hegar said growth was led by collections from the wholesale trade, construction and restaurant sectors, while collections from the oil and gas mining sector declined from last year. Also, total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in November 2019 was up 4.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

The sales tax is the largest source of funding for the state budget, accounting for 57 percent of all tax collections.

Goal: Strengthen trade

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs on Dec. 2 posted details about a recent cultural and economic trade mission to Japan hosted by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Attending with Hughes were Texas business and workforce development leaders. The group met with Nakayama Norihiro, Japan's parliamentary vice minister of foreign affairs, and representatives of Toyota Motor Corporation, Daiwa House Group, Omron Industrial Automation, Japanese External Trade Organization, Japanese Business Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

"As one of the Lone Star State's largest trade partners, it is vital that we not only maintain, but continually strengthen our relationship with Japan," said Hughs, who serves as chief international protocol officer for Texas.

"By working collaboratively to promote opportunities for cultural exchange and economic growth, both Texas and Japan stand to mutually benefit," Hughs added.

Disaster hearings are set

The Texas General Land Office on Dec. 6 announced three regional public hearings on the state's plan for distributing some $4.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery purposes.

The hearings, which also will address flood disasters that occurred in 2015 and 2016, are set for Dec. 9 in Dallas, Dec. 10 in the Rio Grande Valley and Dec. 11 in Houston.

"Hurricane Harvey was a storm of historic proportions, with more than $100 billion in property damage and immeasurable disruption to the lives of Texans," Land Commissioner George P. Bush said. "Many communities in Texas have faced repeated flooding, including the 2015 and 2016 floods. With this action plan, the GLO will prioritize large-scale projects to maximize available infrastructure funding to improve the resiliency of Texas homes, businesses and infrastructure from future storms."

The plan has been published for public comment on the GLO's recovery website at recovery.texas.gov/public-notices/index.html.

Abbott extends declaration

Gov. Abbott on Nov. 27 extended his Aug. 23, 2017, disaster proclamation and subsequent amendments to it, certifying that Hurricane Harvey still poses a threat of imminent disaster for 60 counties.

The proclamation states that due to catastrophic damage caused by the hurricane, a state of disaster continues to exist in those counties, and it authorizes use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster.