Governor conditions issuance of state grants on compliance with ICE

by | Nov 12, 2015 | Opinion

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas sheriffs won’t receive grant funds from his Criminal Justice Division unless they comply with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement notification and detention requests.

In a Nov. 4 letter, Abbott wrote to sheriffs: “Beginning now, all Criminal Justice Division grant awards will require that sheriffs departments fully honor ICE’s detention requests for criminal immigrants. Any applicant that cannot certify that their office will honor all ICE detainers for criminal immigrants will be ineligible for CJD funding. Further, any applicant that certifies full compliance with ICE detainer requests—but subsequently fails to honor an ICE detainer—will be subject to claw-back provisions and must refund the full amount of their CJD grant award.”

“As governor,” Abbott continued, “I simply will not allow CJD grant funding administered by this office to support law enforcement agencies that refuse to cooperate with a federal law enforcement program that is intended to keep dangerous criminals off Texas streets.”

On Oct. 26, Abbott sent a letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, calling on her to reverse her office’s policy “of not detaining all criminal immigrants” pursuant to ICE’s detainer program.

Tax revenue decreases

Texas sales tax revenue in October was $2.28 billion, down 5.4 percent compared to October 2014, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced.

“October state sales tax revenue was depressed, as expected, by declines in spending in oil and natural gas-related sectors,” Hegar said Nov. 4. “Other major sectors of the Texas economy, including construction, information, and services, continued to show growth in tax remittances.”

But, Hegar said, he is sending cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $731.7 million in local sales tax allocations for November, 1.2 percent more than in November 2014. These allocations, he said, are based on sales made in September by businesses that report tax monthly, and sales made in July, August, and September by businesses that report tax quarterly.

53 join amicus brief

Fifty-three members of the Texas Legislature, all of them Democrats, signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 2, in support of the University of Texas in the Fisher v. University of Texas case that has been in litigation since 2008.

Attorneys for the plaintiff contend the university’s admissions policy violates the “equal protection clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment because it allows an applicant’s race to be considered as a factor in the admissions process.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, in his summary of the brief, wrote that the university’s policy in effect furthers “equal access to higher education and unfettered pathways to leadership and opportunity in the State.”

Lawmakers to study issues

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Nov. 4 assigned interim charges to several Texas House committees that will study issues in preparation for the next regular session of the Texas Legislature, which convenes in January 2017.

To be studied are: regulations and taxes, competition with other states, the impact of declining oil prices, school finance, college funding and governance, education and career opportunities for veterans, government transparency, money sitting in accounts, state water plan funding, emergency preparedness, cyber security, the repair of state parks from flooding and wildfires, and more.

In other news, on Nov. 5, Speaker Straus announced the formation of a House Committee on Federal Environmental Regulation “to take a comprehensive look at how an array of rules from the Obama administration will affect Texas and its economy.”

Straus said the committee will look at recently proposed or finalized rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including the Clean Power Plan, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the “Waters of the United States” rules and new standards regulating methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector.

Election results posted

Voters approved all seven ballot measures in Texas’ 2015 Constitutional Amendment Election. Total turnout on Nov. 3 was slightly more than 11 percent of the state’s nearly 14 million registered voters. Election night returns were posted on Nov. 4.

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