Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:

 

VP Pence Visits Texas Coast:

Vice President Mike Pence says around 21-thousand federal officials are on the ground in Texas to help. He and other members of President Trump’s cabinet, along with Gov. Abbott, toured damaged parts of the state today.

They also met with victims, reassuring them they’re here to help.

“We are with you today. We will be with you tomorrow and we will be with you everyday until this great state and these great communities recover and rebuild to be even better and stronger than ever before,” Pence said.

Pence and Abbott also worked to clear tree debris in Rockport before taking a helicopter to survey the area’s storm damage.

Pence’s visit comes two days after President Trump visited Corpus Christi and Austin for briefings with local officials.

Trump is expected to return to Texas on Saturday and tour the Houston area.

 

Former Houston Mayor Bill White:

It was twelve years ago that the then Mayor of Houston opened his city’s doors to thousands of homeless Hurricane Katrina victims. Now, Bill White has found himself in need of shelter.

On Sunday, White’s Houston home began to fill with gallons of water forcing him to fend for himself as he waded through waist-deep water in search of dry land.

Today, he got back into his home to see the damage.

“Were tearing out the sheet rock in our house so you won’t get mold. My wife and I are camping out without AC on the second floor,” White said.

White’s house is along one of the popular bayous. When asked why he didn’t evacuate, this was his response:

“We built the house with design and engineering saying it would be a 500 year, or 1000 year event, and it survived Tropical Storm Allison, which was one of those one in 100 events as well. But this hurricane Harvey was freakish and it dumped about 50 inches of rain within a period of 4 or 5 days. That’s as much as some areas around here get in an entire year. So the water didn’t have anywhere else to go.

And there’s a lot of memories here, I wanted to protect my furniture and belongings.”

Hear White’s full interview tonight at 7pm.

 

Gas Prices:

Hurricane Harvey’s havoc is being felt at the gas pumps. Prices in Texas and across the country have spiked by at least a dime since the storm made landfall.

People are lined up to fill up.

Dallas has had the most expensive gas in the state at an average of 2.37 per gallon. AAA Texas reports today the average price at the pump statewide was $2.26. That’s 12 cents higher than a week ago.

The national average is 2.45 — which is 10 cents higher than a week ago.

Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry chimed in today about the sudden spike.

“Gas prices are going to go up because of the cut in supply,” Perry said.

President Trump’s trying to keep gas prices in check and reduce the chance of shortages after Harvey knocked out several refineries. He’s releasing half a million barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Thirteen refineries in Texas are either shut down or in the process of closing. Refineries that are still operating in the area have less access to crude oil due to port closures.

One hopeful sign — the Colonial Pipeline, which carries gas to the east coast from Houston, estimates it can resume carrying fuel through Texas by Sunday. It provides nearly 40 percent of the South’s gasoline.

Dr. Fred Beach, assistant director for Energy and Technology Policy at the Energy Institute at UT-Austin, joins us at 7pm to discuss Harvey’s toll on the energy industry.

 

Abortion Ruling:

Dozens of new state laws are set to go into effect tomorrow. But some last minute rulings have temporarily blocked a couple of controversial measures.

Today, a federal judge halted Texas’ newest anti-abortion law. An Austin-based judge blocked the state from banning a common second trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation.

Similar bans have been stopped in four other states.

The Texas version was approved by state lawmakers earlier this year and was set to take effect tomorrow. The state is expected to appeal the ruling.

 

SB4 Blocked:

And key portions of the state’s anti-sanctuary cities law were blocked by a federal judge last night. Opponents call the measure a “show me your papers” law. They sued and the ruling temporarily halts it — allowing the case time to proceed.

It’s a significant blow to Governor Abbott and other Republicans who have backed the measure…and said it’s needed to keep Texans safe.

The law allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain.

It also seeks to punish local government officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration detainer requests.

The state plans to appeal.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling