Good morning! It's Friday eve. We've got a lot of ground to cover today. A couple of items you may have missed yesterday included:
A story about the origins of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, which generated some interesting comments. At least one person said his son was treated with a low-dose amount of the drug by a Kerrville doctor as a way of shortening a COVID-19 infection. https://kerrcountylead.com/2992377594336599
We also shared with our readers five movies, documentaries and television series that tell the story of 9-11. https://kerrcountylead.com/190057286553258
Speaking of movies, we had a chance to watch "Worth," which tells the story of attorney Ken Fineberg, who oversaw the Sept. 11 victims fund. The movie stars Michael Keaton and shows the exhausting and frustrating work needed to sort out financial claims after the Sept. 11 attacks — some extremely complicated and painful. It's on Netflix.
The founding of The Lead focused on community coverage, but there was an emphasis that growth and development were among the most significant issues facing Kerrville and the Hill Country. The show starts at 9 a.m. on our Facebook page. https://facebook.com/thekerrcountylead
On today's episode of The Lead Live, co-host Delayne Sigerman will interview her husband Mike Sigerman, the planning and zoning commission chairman, and Drew Paxton, Kerrville's community development director.
The last planning and zoning commission meeting, held Sept. 2, featured lengthy discussions about some of the city's developmental challenges. The meeting saw the initial approvals for about 288 homes across four different projects. Three of the projects received preliminary approvals on their plats, but a fourth, requiring annexation, faced a delay until the project's developers could settle concerns with neighbors about drainage.
However, the planning and zoning commission and the Kerrville City Council face limitations imposed by the Texas Legislature on how communities can manage growth.
SPEAKING OF GROWTH
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called a third special session of the Texas Legislature. The plan here is to discuss the apportionment of voting districts, including the congressional districts. Here's what Abbott said would be the five agenda items:
- Legislation relating to the apportionment of the State of Texas into districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, the State Board of Education, and the United States House of Representatives.
- Legislation providing appropriations from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), Pub. L. No. 117-2.
- Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student's sex at birth.
- Legislation regarding whether any state or local governmental entities in Texas can mandate that an individual receive a COVID-19 vaccine and, if so, what exemptions should apply to such mandate.
- Legislation similar to Senate Bill 474 as passed by the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, but that addresses the concerns expressed in the governor's veto statement.
While it looks like a light agenda, there are some big ones ahead of the 2022 election. If it's not fixed, there could be a moment when Abbott may hear the dogs barking — literally.
The last item on the agenda is a review of Senate Bill 874, which criminalized leaving dogs unsheltered or chained to poles or other inert objects. Abbott vetoed the bill.
"Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization," Abbott wrote when he vetoed the bill. The Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey wrote that Abbott made a grave political mistake by vetoing the bill.
"The governor's veto is a political opponent's dream. Any meathead who has even seen a political advertisement could write this one," Ramsey wrote.
The other items on the agenda include issuing a ban on transgender athletes competing in high school sports, discussing the federal restrictions associated with billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief and whether or not to require COVID-19 vaccinations.
The federally-backed American Rescue Plan Act restricts the state from using the money to cover tax cuts. The plan gives more than $16 billion to local and county governments across the state if they meet the requirements. However, conservative groups, including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, have argued to ditch the restrictions and the money.
"The strategy should strive to return these funds to taxpayers by reducing and keeping taxes lower than otherwise, funding only one-time expenditures, and rejecting all or most ARPA funds with strings attached," the Texas Public Policy Foundation wrote in May. "This strategy would help avoid expanding government, reduce the impact on state sovereignty, mitigate the rising burden of the federal government's high spending and debt, and provide relief to families."
Of course, the last line in the TPPF's essay is that Texas is a sovereign state — implying the state can reject federal authority. The Civil War and the Supreme Court might disagree with that assessment.
However, the point about fiscal prudence is probably a correct path, and many counties and cities have sat the process out of claiming their share of the money. In Kerr County, the cities of Kerrville and Ingram have already submitted applications to receive federal funding, as has the county.
COVID SITUATION IN THE SCHOOLS
Parents tracking the number of COVID-19 cases in schools reported 11 new cases on Wednesday, driving the number of positive cases in Kerrville Independent School District to at least 54 this week.
However, the data provided by the parents only had reports from Nimitz and Tally elementary schools and B.T. Wilson School. Of those 54 cases, seven are staff members.