Ed Sterling Mug

Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Incumbent President Donald J. Trump, who received 94% of the vote in the Lone Star State’s Republican primary election, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who received 34.5 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, were their parties’ top vote-getters on March 3, Super Tuesday.

Biden’s closest rival was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who received 30% of the Democratic vote. Sanders was followed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 14.4%, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 11.4%.

Overall voter turnout figures posted by the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Division show 4,084,431 of the state’s 16,211,198 registered voters cast a ballot — slightly more than 25% of total registered voters. That’s a higher participation rate than in the 2016 Super Tuesday vote. Then, 3,289,218 Texans cast a ballot, or 23% of the 14,238,436 voters who were registered at the time.

In a major down-ballot race, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and former Air Force helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar, will face each other in a May 26 Democratic primary runoff. The winner will run against long-term incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, in the Nov. 3 general election.

Complete election results are available at the Texas Secretary of State’s website, sos.texas.gov.

City cancels festival

The city of Austin and Travis County on March 6 declared a “local state of disaster” in response to what officials called an increasing concern over novel coronavirus — COVID-19 — the deadly flu-like contagion that has developed into a worldwide health threat.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a related order canceling the South by Southwest festival, an event that has been hosted annually by the capital city since 1987. To illustrate the rapidity of the local decision-making process, only two days earlier, Austin’s public health department stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.”

Dr. Mark Escott, commenting on behalf of the department on March 6, said, “While there is no clear guidance on what local jurisdictions should do under these circumstances, our local expert advisory panel took a look at the risk factors and identified a number of concerns.”

The SXSW festival, a global magnet for music lovers, the film and media industries and educators usually attracts more than 150,000 attendees over a 10-day period.

Abbott: Texas can test

Texas now has the capacity to test for COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on March 5 in a joint press conference with Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.

Six public health labs within the Texas Laboratory Response Network are now equipped to perform COVID-19 testing, with the remaining four being fully equipped in the coming days, Abbott said. The network provides laboratory diagnostics and maintains the capacity to respond to biological and chemical threats and other public health emergencies. The six public health labs within the network that are equipped to perform COVID-19 tests include Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Lubbock. The remaining four labs in the network will be equipped with testing capabilities in the coming days: Tyler, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen. The state public health lab network will be able to test over 125 patients per day once the entire network is equipped, Abbott added.

Gov, AG warn gougers

Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton on March 6 issued a warning to anyone participating in price-gouging of medical supplies as Texas continues to combat the potential threat of the coronavirus.

Abbott said he would invoke a state law that gives Paxton ”broader powers” to prosecute price gougers. Texans who suspect a case of price-gouging related to the potential coronavirus threat should file a consumer complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, Abbott said. Consumer Protection Hotline: (800) 621-0508.

Revenue total reported

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on March 3 said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.89 billion in February, an amount 3.5 percent more than the amount reported in February 2019.

Growth in state sales tax revenue was led by receipts from the retail trade and information services sectors, while receipts from the construction sector were down from a year ago and growth in tax receipts from retail trade was slightly boosted by collections from online marketplace providers and remote sellers, Hegar said.

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