By Chris Cobler

Texas to get 1.4 million COVID vaccine doses

Texas is ready to distribute 1.4 million doses as soon as the COVID-19 vaccine receives federal government approval. Gov. Greg Abbott said the vaccines should be arriving the week of Dec. 14 and would be distributed to qualifying providers. Health care workers are the first in line to receive the medication, which needs to be given in two shots. Also first in line are residents of long-term living care centers, the Texas Department of Health Services announced.Texas’ population is about 29 million, so the line is long. The state agency also announced the list of 109 hospitals in 34 of Texas’ 254 counties that will receive the first doses. “The State of Texas is already prepared for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and will swiftly distribute these vaccines to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized,” Abbott stated. “As we await the first shipment of these vaccines, we will work with communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Electors set to vote

Texas presidential electors will convene Dec. 14 to officially cast their votes.The ceremony will start at 2 p.m. in the gallery of the House chamber in the State Capitol. The Texas election code calls for electors to meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December. Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs congratulated the governor, election workers and the voters for their efforts with this year’s elections. “Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, this election was a resounding success, and turnout among registered voters was the highest in 28 years as Texans exercised their right to vote,” Hughs stated.

Workers comp challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for the Texas workers’ compensation system, the state agency said in its biennial report to the Legislature. During the pandemic, Gov. Abbott waived certain statutory requirements that affected COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims. The Legislature is expected to consider whether to extend those exemptions, particularly for first responders and essential workers.“Some argue that these requirements should be permanently waived in situations involving a public health emergency, while others are concerned about the cost impact to governmental entities if this defense is waived,” the report stated.During the pandemic, some insurance carriers have investigated COVID-19 claims involving firefighters, EMTs and peace officers. Forty-one percent of claims were denied for a variety of reasons, including whether a “statistically positive correlation with work” exists.

Abbott, Cruz in 2024?

The campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination could start in Texas.The Republican National Committee has invited about a dozen potential presidential candidates to its January meeting in Amelia Island, Fla. The list includes Gov. Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Others on the list include Donald Trump, Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

The way from San Jose

Another California company is moving its headquarters to Texas. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will relocate its global headquarters from San Jose, Calif., to Spring. The new headquarters will open in early 2022, the Texas Economic Development Corp. announced. HP Enterprise already employs 2,600 people in Austin, Plano and Houston. The announcement did not specify how many new jobs would be added with the move of the headquarters. “Houston is an attractive market to recruit and retain future diverse talent and where we are currently constructing a state-of-the-art new campus,” Antonio Neri, CEO of HP Enterprise stated.

Chicken fertilizer

Chicken litter led to a new business venture and state recognition for a young Texas couple. The Texas Farm Bureau honored Matt and Jessica Hanslik of Lavaca County as the 2020 outstanding young farmer and rancher. The recognition came during the organization’s 87th annual meeting, which was held virtually this year.The Hansliks grow corn and hay, raise cattle and are part owners of an all-natural fertilizer company, in which they take chicken litter and “upcycle” it for use as farm fertilizer, the farm bureau said in its news release about the award.“The idea was sparked when Jessica, a manager at a national shell egg company, suggested they begin using chicken litter from local broiler houses to fertilize their fields,” the Farm Bureau stated. “Now, in addition to using the all-natural fertilizer to boost yields on their own land, they sell the product to other area farms and ranches.”

Chris Cobler is a board member and past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He welcomes email at