Capital highlights: State climatologist confirms Texas is getting hotter


The state climatologist recently predicted that Texas will continue to get hotter and for longer periods of time during the next 15 years. In “Assessment of Historic and Future Trends of Extreme Weather in Texas, 1900-2036,” John Nielsen-Gammon predicted the average annual temperature in Texas will be three degrees warmer than the average from 1950-99, and the number of 100-degree days could nearly double compared to 2000-18. 

Gary Borders

The report, sponsored by Texas 2036, a nonpartisan nonprofit group named for the state’s bicentennial in 15 years, indicates that the average coldest monthly temperatures will continue to rise, though that will vary across the state, as will rainfall predictions. Extremely severe weather is expected to increase.

“Storm surges from hurricanes will tend to be more severe because of higher relative sea levels, and a possible increase in extreme hurricane intensity may further increase storm surge risk,” Nielsen-Gammon wrote.

October is Bullying Prevention Month

One in five children report being bullied, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In Texas, at least 40% of those bullied have seriously considered suicide. The agency “provides caregivers the tools to empower their children to be anti-bullying champions and to get messaging out about bullying prevention” at GetParentingTips.com. 

The content is designed to help parents and other caregivers to have conversations with their children about bullying. “The conversation to prevent bullying can start as early as  when a child learns the difference between kindness and unkindness,” according to TDFPS.

Redistricting skirmish continues in the Lege

Along party lines, the Texas Senate passed a redistricting plan Friday that pits the only two Black members of Congress from Houston against each other and does not create any more minority-majority districts, reported the San Antonio Express-News. Attempts to amend the plan by Democratic legislators were all rejected by the redistricting map’s principal author, state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.

The Texas House has yet to release any redistricting proposals for Congress during the third special session, which ends Monday (Oct. 18). If the House doesn’t pass a redistricting bill, it’s likely both chambers will have to return for a fourth special session this year, the Express-News reported.

Nearly 1,000 died due to drunken driving last year

A statewide impaired-driving campaign aims to cut the number of Texans killed in drunken driving crashes, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. In 2020, 963 people in Texas were killed and 2,114 injured in alcohol-related crashes, according to TxDOT. Drinking and driving is completely preventable and can cause serious physical, emotional and financial consequences. Sober ride options include a designated driver, calling a cab or rideshare service, using mass transit or calling a sober friend. 

TxDOT’s Drive Sober, No Regrets campaign is conducting outreach events at college campuses across the state in conjunction with football season. The events include video testimonials of Texans who deal with the daily consequences of drunk driving, either as a survivor or offender.

COVID-19 cases still dropping

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the state is steadily dropping, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, with 45,884 cases reported in the past week, along with 1,201 new deaths. Both categories are down more than 20% compared to the previous week. Lab-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas also continue to drop, with 6,730 reported Sunday by the Texas Department of State Health Services, a drop of 18% from the previous week.

The number of Texans fully vaccinated has crossed the 15 million mark, which is 51.6 percent of the state’s total population.

Arts commission seeks ‘young masters’

The Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Cultural Trust are seeking applications for the 2022 class of Young Masters. The program provides “exemplary Texas-based arts students” in grades 8-11 with financial assistance to pursue study in various areas of the arts, such as visual, literary, folk arts, music, dance, theater and media art. 

Those chosen as “Young Masters” receive grants of $5,000 per year to further their studies. More information can be found on the TCA website: arts.texas.gov.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@texaspress.com.