These weekly updates will provide the latest news and information on what our community, the state, and the federal government are doing as we face an unprecedented pandemic.

Continuing to Submit Bills this Session 

The state legislature is open again and ready to do its job serving the people of Texas! My staff and I have been busy over the last few months getting ready our proposed legislation that we know will help Texans. We will continue to file bills throughout the session, and I will begin to sponsor, co-author, and co-sponsor my colleagues’ legislation as well. You can find all the bills I have authored this session here.

Recent Bill Filings

Within the last week, our office filed two more bills regarding health care and prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ couples in the adoption process. 

  • HB 1145: Relating to utilization review requirements for a health care service provided by a network physician or provider
  • HB 1149: Relating to the protection of the rights of conscience for child welfare services providers

Calling for an End to Confederate Heroes Day

This week, I joined my colleague Representative Jarvis Johnson and others in calling for the abolishment of Confederate Heroes Day as an official state holiday. January 19, one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was made Confeder Heroes Day to honor the births of multiple non-Texan Confederate leaders in 1931. Representative J. Johnson has filed HB 36 for this legislative session to call for the abolishment of the holiday. More information about the history of Confederate Heroes Day and the abolishment attempt can be found here.

First Case of U.K. COVID-19 Variant in Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) has announced the first known case in Dallas County of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the United Kingdom. This is the third case identified within the State of Texas to date. First identified in the United Kingdom this past September, the B.1.1.7 variant appears to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, and may lead to an increase in cases. It’s more important than ever to wear your mask around anyone you don’t live with, to maintain six foot distance from other masked individuals, wash your hands frequently, avoid crowds, and forgo get-togethers. This variant does not appear to cause symptoms that are more serious, and current scientific evidence is that the currently approved vaccines are expected to be effective against this variant.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

In the past week, Texas became the first state to administer 1 million doses of vaccine, and vaccine has been administered to residents of all 254 counties. The state of Texas will receive 333,650 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine next week. The Texas Department of State Health Services will ship those doses to 260 providers across Texas, including the 79 vaccine hubs. The state is also ordering about 500,000 doses intended as the second dose for people first vaccinated a few weeks ago.

People can now call Dallas County Health and Human Services to register over the phone for the COVID-19 vaccine. The number for the DCHHS Vaccine Registration Hotline is 469-749-9900. The hotline hours are Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm. Registration assistance is available in English and Spanish.

Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Loans Changes

The U.S. Small Business Administration, as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), has reopened the “First Draw” PPP for small businesses. Other changes impact eligibility for initial PPP loans, the loan forgiveness process, and the tax treatment of PPP loans. More information about the “first” and “second” draw PPP loans can be found here.

Connect Dallas Requesting Community Feedback

Connect Dallas, the City’s Strategic Mobility Plan, is entering its final development stage and the City of Dallas wants your feedback on the draft plan. The deadline to submit feedback is February 5, 2021.  Review the draft plan and take the survey here.

DART 2021 Student Art Competition

DART is now accepting entries for the 2021 DART Student Art Contest.  The contest provides area students the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents to help promote the use of public transport. This year’s contest theme, “Everyday Heroes Ride DART”, gives students a chance to honor hometown heroes that have kept our community going during the pandemic.  All students (Kindergarten – High School) are eligible to participate and may submit their entries either online or via mail.  The deadline for entry submission is Tuesday, March 23, 2021.  One Best of Show winner will be selected from all K-12 entries and will have his or her artwork featured on DART buses and will receive a $1,000 cash prize from Dallas Contemporary. More information about the contest and applying can be found here.

City of Carrollton Jimmy Porter Award Nominations

The City of Carrollton Parks & Recreation Department is seeking nominations for their annual Jimmy Porter Award. Jimmy Porter (1900-1984) was a beloved resident who shared his love of baseball with generations of Carrollton kids through coaching. The coach only had one rule: everybody gets to play. His legacy is honored through the naming of Jimmy Porter Park and the Carrollton Texas Parks & Recreation’s Jimmy Porter Award, which honors an outstanding volunteer from any of the recognized Carrollton youth sport leagues. More information and the nomination form can be found here.

City of Carrollton ‘Run With Rover’ Registration Now Open

Pre-registration is now open for Carrollton Texas Parks & Recreation‘s Run for Rover! Early registration gets you a discounted rate and guarantees you a race T-shirt, race bag, and timing chip. This year’s race will operate differently to maximize safety while still having fun. The race will be split into four different timeslots: 8 a.m., 8:35 a.m., 9:10 a.m., and 9:45 a.m., with no more than 50 runners per timeslot. When social distancing is not possible, masks will be required. Items such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be provided to participants and spectators. Additionally, food items will be pre-packaged. Proceeds from the 5K race benefit the animals at City of Carrollton Animal Adoption Center. Details about the race and registration can be found here.

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