Evan Young, a former clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has been appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Gov. Greg Abbott. He will replace Justice Eva Guzman, who resigned in June to run for Texas attorney general.
“Evan Young is a proven legal scholar and public servant, making him an ideal pick for the Supreme Court of Texas,” Abbott said. “Evan’s extensive background in private practice and public service will be a fantastic addition to the bench, and I am confident that he will faithfully defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law for the people of Texas.”
Young is a partner at the Baker Botts law firm in Austin and previously served as counsel to the U.S. attorney general, where he spent a year on detail to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. He earned his law degree from Yale.
616,600 jobs lost during pandemic
The annual cash report from the state comptroller outlines the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. From August 2019 to August 2020, the state’s economy lost 616,600 non-farm jobs, largely from the economic aftershocks of the pandemic and a drop in energy prices. However, sales tax collections, a major part of the state’s revenue, increased two-tenths of a percent in 2020 because of increases in retail spending that offset declines in oil and gas-related sectors.
Sales tax collections comprise nearly 60 percent of the state’s total revenues, according to the comptroller’s office.
Workplace injuries, illnesses decline
The incidence rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in Texas for 2020 dropped to its lowest rate in a decade, at 2.0 per 100 full time workers. That compares favorably to the national rate of 2.7 incidence rates per 100 workers.
The report was compiled by the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2020, a total of 178,600 cases of workplace injury or illness were reported by Texas employers. The highest incident rates were reported in the health-care sector, followed by agriculture and other outdoor-related occupations.
Task force on concert safety formed
Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced the formation of a task force on concert safety after at least nine people were killed and hundreds injured at the Astroworld Festival in Houston on Nov. 5. Members include safety experts, law enforcement officials, firefighters and leaders from the Texas Music Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and a half-dozen otherstate entities.
The task force is led by Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office.
“Live music is a source of joy, entertainment and community for so many Texans — and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security,” Abbott said.
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of more than 200 victims. Defendants include rapper Travis Scott and concert promotion giant Live Nation, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. The deaths and injuries occurred when a crowd rushed the stage as Scott performed.
Alligator snapping turtle going on endangered list
The alligator snapping turtle, which is North America’s largest freshwater turtle species, is slated to be listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pending public comment due by Jan. 10. The turtle, a popular target of poachers in Texas and other states, can weigh more than 200 pounds.
In recent months, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other agencies and institutions teamed up to repatriate a couple dozen confiscated alligator snapping turtles to their native Texas rivers. While all states ban commercial harvest of the turtle, recreational harvest is allowed on a limited basis in Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Texas comptroller’s office has contracted with the Environmental Institute at the University of Houston–Clear Lake to develop long-term monitoring procedures in an effort to develop more effective conservation measures.
Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: email@example.com.