Abbott announces special election date and disaster declaration for 23 counties

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday announced a special election for Texas Senate District 30 will be held on Sept. 29. The seat became vacant Aug. 8 after the Texas GOP nominated state Sen. Pat Fallon to be the Republican candidate on the ballot this November for the 4th Congressional District.

The governor also announced a disaster declaration for 23 counties and said the state’s response and preparedness efforts were underway ahead of Tropical Storm Marco’s and Tropical Storm Laura’s arrival. Both are forecast to impact parts of the Texas Coast and East Texas, though Marco has weakened while Laura is expected to strengthen.

Senate District 30 covers north and northeast Texas including Collin and Denton counties.

On Sunday, Dallas-area salon owner Shelley Luther and state Rep. Drew Springer announced their candidacy for the seat. Springer has represented District 68 in the House since 2013.

“I bring my conservative record and hard work to the race, along with a life of being raised, educated, and working in SD30.” said Springer, who served in the state legislature with Fallon for eight years and received Fallon’s endorsement.

Luther made national headlines earlier this year for going to jail after defying Abbott’s order, which shut down her business as “non-essential.”

“If you want someone who doesn’t have to tell you that they’ll stand up and go to jail for you, I’ll do it … because I’m going to fight to keep our Texas values,” Luther said Sunday in announcing her candidacy.

The filing deadline to get on the ballot is 5 p.m. Friday. Early voting begins Monday, Sept. 14.

Abbott issued a state disaster declaration on Sunday, and requested an emergency declaration from President Donald Trump and FEMA for Public Assistance Category B (Emergency Protective Measures), which was granted. FEMA is now authorized to provide emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance and reimbursement for mass care including evacuation and shelter support at 75 percent federal funding.

He also requested an emergency declaration for Direct Federal Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation statewide. The state disaster declaration includes 23 counties: Aransas, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, and Willacy.

“As [Tropical Storm] Marco and Tropical Storm Laura approach Texas, the state is taking necessary precautions to protect our communities and keep Texans safe,” Abbott said. “I urge Texans in the path of these storms to plan ahead and heed the guidance of their local officials. The State of Texas is working with local and federal partners to monitor these storms and provide the resources our communities need to respond.”

Tropical Storm Marco is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Monday before moving into Texas on Tuesday evening as a depression, the governor’s office said. Marco is expected to bring heavy rain and tropical storm force winds to the Texas Coast and Southeast Texas.

Laura is forecast to become a Hurricane on Tuesday and make landfall anywhere over Southeast Texas or Louisiana early Thursday. Wind, heavy rain, and storm surges are expected on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Laura enters the Gulf.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management is working with numerous state and local agencies for preparedness and response, including Texas A&M Forest Service and Engineering and Extension Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Military Department, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety–Texas Highway Patrol.

The governor urged residents to follow flood preparedness guidelines during severe weather events. Residents can go to FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to find information about the types of flood risk by area, and to gov.texas.gov/hurricane for flood safety guidance.



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