The State of Texas: Trying to Stay Ahead of Zika
Plus: Texans really don’t like taxes, NBA free agency is in full swing in Texas and Greg Abbott makes a pitch to British businesses reeling from Brexit.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We really didn’t need this cat issue. We have a lot of other stuff going on that we need to worry about.”
Prepping for Zika
With Zika fast approaching, Texas is trying to stay ahead of the mosquito-born virus. Although the disease is technically already here—there have been 50 cases reported in Texas—there’s no evidence yet that Zika has been transmitted locally (in other words, the Zika-infected Texans contracted the virus while traveling outside of the state). Still, state health officials are bracing for impact. On Friday, the head of Texas’s Health and Human Services Commission proposed a plan to equip more than half a million Texas women with bottles of mosquito repellant. According to the Dallas Morning News, the free or reduced cans of spray would go primarily to low-income women of childbearing age, between 10 and 45, and each woman would receive two cans per month through October. It would cost about $30 million, with the federal government paying a little more than half and Texas taxpayers picking up the tab for the rest. The repellant would be free for about 470,000 Texas women on Medicaid. Earlier on Friday, Texas found out it would be receiving $1.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control as part of the agency’s $25 million federal payout to fight Zika. Meanwhile, in Houston, the city has started to enforce new scrap tire laws meant to curtail pile-ups of discarded tires, which can become breeding grounds for mosquitos. According to the Houston Chronicle, the city has removed more than 19,000 tires since February.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Petty Penny Pinchers
It should come as no surprise that some Texans don’t particularly enjoy paying taxes. That’s clear in Tarrant County, where some residents expressed their dissatisfaction with paying their share by doing so in “wheelbarrows of cash,” boxes full of change, or attaching “snide notes” to their checks, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. People are weird, and nowhere is that more evident than the lines at Tarrant County’s offices during tax season. One former Tarrant County tax assessor told the Star-Telegram that she’s seen people stuff their tax payments in their pockets, socks and bras, then pull the money out “bill by bill” when they get to the front of the line. Once, someone’s cash had such an “odd smell” that the District Attorney’s office asked the Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate (apparently, the money had been stored near drugs). For those that choose to pay by mail, it’s not much better. Instead of making their checks out to the tax assessor, sometimes checks will be made out to “Tax Suckers,” “Tax Ass,” “Tax Ass Collector,” or “head of the communist party.”
NBA free agency season is in full swing, and Texas teams have already made some notable moves. The Dallas Mavericks are building a sort of poor man’s Golden State Warriors roster, adding ex-Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (signed for a massive $94 million contract over four years) and center Andrew Bogut (traded for in exchange for peanuts), and signing Steph Curry’s little brother, Seth. The Houston Rockets inked a couple solid scorers in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, but the biggest news in H-Town came when center Dwight Howard bolted for Atlanta after a few unsatisfactory seasons for the Rockets. Meanwhile, San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan is “leaning strongly toward retirement,” according to Yahoo! Sports, but the Spurs did sign six-time All-Star Pau Gasol to a two-year deal. And, according to Forbes, the University of Texas stands to gain from Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State, considering the Texas Ex and his alma mater have a co-branding shoe deal with Nike.
Governor Greg Abbott announced this weekend a new ad campaign targeting businesses from across the pond, inviting a British invasion of sorts. According to the Texas Tribune, the state is making a concerted pitch to lure businesses following the Brexit vote, which could have a negative impact on Britain’s business climate. The new ad campaign urges companies to “declare independence from high taxes” and “celebrate economic freedom” by relocating to the Lone Star State. According to the Dallas Morning News, the campaign will be primarily digital, using advertisements featuring Abbott to target business owners on Facebook and Twitter, and placing banner ads on about 7,000 other websites, like the Financial Times. It’s unclear how much this will all cost Texas, but a spokesman for Abbott told the Morning News that it’s a “significant amount.” Meanwhile, Texit-heads are still holding out hope for a secession vote, with the Atlantic being the latest outlet to lend an ear to their unrealistic ambitions.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Here’s how a new American celebrated the Fourth of July in Dallas Dallas Morning News
College Station had to postpone its pride picnic after threats popped up on social media KBTX
A 500-year old tree is in danger in Austin Austin American-Statesman
A state representative who gets paid by the fireworks industry says you should buy more fireworks Texas Observer
The mentally disabled apparently don’t fare too well in Texas nursing homes Associated Press