News will be happening fast this year

12/31/2013 6:35 PM

12/31/2013 6:36 PM

In 12 months, when 2014 draws to a close, there’s a good chance we’ll look back and see more headlines about the year’s political battles than any other topic.

No surprise, you might say. Politics usually grabs headlines.

With hotly contested primary races in March, runoffs in late May and a November general election that has Republicans and Democrats set for a battle royal of a race for governor, 2014 looks like a year for the political record books.

But even a quick look shows much more on the agenda for the year ahead, and it starts fast.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter has scheduled a town hall meeting from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Azle High School Auditorium, listening to local residents talk about the rash of minor earthquakes in the area.

There have been about 30 quakes in and near Azle since early November.

Getting the blame, with no specific evidence so far, are nearby disposal wells that inject drilling wastewater deep underground. The Railroad Commission regulates those wells.

Porter must be thorough in finding out whether there is a link between the wells and the earthquakes.

On Monday in Austin, state District Judge John Dietz is set to reopen lawsuits in which more than two-thirds of the state’s school districts, including several in Tarrant County, say Texas fails to provide adequate public school funding or to distribute it equitably.

Dietz last year declared the school finance system unconstitutional, but he is reopening the case because the Legislature passed key education reforms and injected more money into the system.

There have been decades of litigation on this topic. Dietz must refocus the several groups of litigants and state attorneys on the most pressing current issues and move the suit along.

The state Supreme Court must have its chance to look at the lawsuit before the Legislature meets next January.

Also Monday, Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber has scheduled a final hearing on proposed rules governing “navigators” hired to assist people sign up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

United Way of Tarrant County is the lead agency among 16 community organizations across the state running the navigator program. Officials led by Gov. Rick Perry are throwing up roadblocks with these rules.

The politicians should get out of the way and let United Way and the other organizations help Texans get the health care they need.

Finally, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office is to present evidence to a grand jury this month on the May 28 police shooting in which Jerry Waller, 72, was killed at his Woodhaven home.

Two rookie officers responding to a burglar alarm at a nearby home somehow ended up in Waller’s yard. Waller, apparently responding to the commotion, was carrying a gun when the officers shot him. He died in his garage.

Too many questions have hung over this shooting for too long. There must be no more delay in getting it to a grand jury.

It’s Jan. 1. A busy year is ahead.

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