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Voters to decide on proposed amendments to state constitution

TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION AUSTIN — The state's 10-day early voting period ran from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1 with Election Day on Nov. 5. On the ballot are 10 proposed constitutional amendments, special elections and local political subdivision elections, including those for mayor, city council, school board, municipal utility districts and other local entities. Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, the state's chief election officer, encouraged all eligible voters to fulfill their civic duty by voting. During the early voting period, Hughs said, "It is critical that all eligible Texans have the opportunity to help shape the direction of the Lone Star State." For more information on voting in Texas and a list of the proposed constitutional amendments, visit www.votetexas.gov. Feds set hemp rules Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Oct. 29 announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s release of interim final rules for the U.S. Domestic Hemp Program. The rules, part of the 2018 Farm Bill, serve as a framework for states like Texas that are planning to build an industrial hemp growing program. With federal guidelines in place, the Texas Department of Agriculture can now submit a state hemp plan to USDA for approval, Miller said. The rules can be found online at usda.gov. “This is the big leap forward we’ve all been waiting for,” said Miller. “I want to make it clear – it is still not yet legal to grow industrial hemp in Texas. But we are one step closer to allowing farmers to get this exciting new crop in the ground.” Miller said he expects to submit the Texas plan for an industrial hemp program in 30 days or less. Harvey disaster continues Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 28 extended the disaster proclamation he originally issued on Aug. 23, 2017, for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey that brought loss of life and damages estimated at more than $125 billion. In the proclamation, the governor authorized the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster. Original counties named in the proclamation were: Aransas, Austin, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Waller, Wharton and Wilson. Abbott later expanded the list to include the counties of: Angelina, Atascosa, Bastrop, Bexar, Brazos, Burleson, Caldwell, Cameron, Comal, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Jasper, Kerr, Lee, Leon, Madison, Milam, Montgomery, Newton, Orange,

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