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Ramsey: Hey, Texans, come out and vote! | Ross Ramsey

Early voting began Monday, which was also Valentine’s Day and the anniversary of the 2021 polar vortex that caused blackouts that killed more than 200 Texans and possibly as many as 700. Voters have many things to consider when they go to vote this year. This list is incomplete, but it’s a start.

The last frost did not destroy the network. It didn’t completely eliminate the mosquitoes either, but that’s another topic for another day. Arguments about whether the state’s power grid is as reliable as it should be haven’t stopped, and they won’t until people are confident that lights and heaters will stay on in extremely cold weather.

And besides, it’s still winter, even though we enjoy high temperatures of 70 degrees on some days. On Feb. 14, 2021, the first day the polar vortex hit the state, the high in Dallas was 31 degrees and the low was 13 degrees, according to the daily weather history from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. A week later the high was 75 and the low was 46. In Houston last Valentine’s Day the high was 39 and the low was 30, followed a week later by 68 and 46. San Antonio ? A high of 32 on February 14 and a low of 23; on February 21, it was 73 and 40.

Since this month, more than 80,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Texas. The 7-day average of deaths was, as of February 9, 192 per day statewide. Most Texans — 58.5% — are fully vaccinated. Hospitalizations from the virus are dropping from a near-record low in January, to more than 9,000 patients, and the number of intensive care beds is rising.

Inflation is back, but the economy is booming. The state comptroller, who was very worried about the economy when the first wave of COVID-19 arrived in Texas in March 2020, has been increasingly optimistic in the nearly two years since. This office expects the state legislature to return to Austin in a year with about $24 billion in the economic stabilization fund — a savings account, more or less — and surplus funds outside of this account.

The state had more jobs at the end of 2021 than before the pandemic began, and unemployment fell to 5%. But eviction filings are among the highest in the nation, and according to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gas in Texas is $3.15, up from $2.18 a year ago.

Any adult in Texas who is not prohibited by federal law can carry a handgun without training or a license in most places in the state.

Abortion is still legal in the United States, but in Texas a new law prohibits abortions after the first signs of a pulse – usually around six weeks, and before many people know they are pregnant.

Immigration and border security has always been a volatile political issue in Texas and Mexico, and a public policy issue that generates more rhetoric than practical attempts at problem solving. He is, once again, at the center of many election campaigns and lawsuits between state and federal governments. And it’s more complicated than slogan writers working for the candidates would have you believe, but the Tribune’s reporting on immigration can shed some light.

Compared to the previous year, crime rates in Texas are down 4% in 2020 – the latest figures available from the Texas Department of Public Safety. But violent crime rose 6.6% and the overall rate was tempered by a 4% drop in property crime. Murders rose 35.6% in 2020, according to DPS.

Despite new legislation on the subject, much of rural Texas still lacks access to the high-speed broadband Internet it needs to perform in the modern economy, medicine, public education, l college and work.

Primary elections in Texas do not attract as many voters as general elections, but they offer voters their best chance to choose their representatives.

Most seats in the Texas Legislative Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation are uncompetitive in the November election, thanks to the redistricting carried out by the Legislative Assembly last year and, so far , cleared to stand in federal court, where the new cards are still pending. contested.

Many districts have been intentionally drawn to favor one party or the other, effectively determining which party candidates will win in particular districts before voters go to the polls. This means that the primary elections in March and the run-offs that take place in May – where the candidates face opponents from their own parties – probably offer most voters the best chance to re-elect or replace the current incumbents.

New voting laws in Texas have made it harder for many people to vote, but it helps to know the rules ahead of time. Redistricting and new political maps mean you may not vote for the same people in the same offices as before; do your homework.

Early voting runs until February 25, and election day is Tuesday, March 1.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/02/14/texas-election-electric-grid-coronavirus/.

— Ross Ramsey is co-founder and editor of the Texas Tribune. His column appears on Tuesday.