AUSTIN — An unusual special election situation has produced the need for a ruling by Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, the state’s chief elections officer.

Long-time House District 66 State Rep. Brian McCall resigned from office in late March after being named chancellor of the San Marcos-based Texas State University System. McCall’s resignation created the need for a special election to fill the vacated seat.

Republican businesswoman Mabrie Jackson filed as a candidate to fill the south Collin County (Plano-area) HD 66 seat, but she withdrew on April 14, too late for Collin County to remove her name from the ballot.

Jackson’s withdrawal resulted in the swearing in of her special election opponent Van Taylor.

However, despite her resignation, Jackson pulled 59 percent of the vote to Taylor’s 41 percent.

Something official on the situation is expected from Secretary Andrade.

Land Office sends

help to Gulf

On May 3, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said his office would assist in the oil spill cleanup effort on the Louisiana coast.

“This could be a serious environmental challenge for the Gulf Coast,” Patterson said. The General Land Office sent wildlife rescue specialists and two trailers, one for cleaning oil-soaked wildlife, the other to shelter animals while recovering after they are cleaned.

Oil is gushing from a damaged well head a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles from the Louisiana shore.

Perry names

state demographer

Gov. Rick Perry on May 5 named Dr. Lloyd Potter of San Antonio state demographer.

Potter is a professor and interim chair of the Department of Demography and Organization Studies, and director of the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The State Demographer’s Office distributes census information, population estimates and projections for the state, and information from federal, state and other government sources.

AG halts sale of

misbranded drugs

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on May 6 resolved the state’s legal action against a Houston-area wholesale drug distributor that improperly purchased and distributed “misbranded” prescription drugs.

Medical Discount Pharmacy L.P., a state-licensed wholesale drug distributor that warehouses and distributes prescription drugs, under an agreed final judgment negotiated by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, must adopt procedures to prevent misbranded or counterfeit pharmaceutical products from being unlawfully distributed to their Texas retail pharmacies.

Tips to help in

appeal of appraisals

Most local appraisal review boards schedule property value protest hearings in May, June or July, except in certain major urban areas, where hearings occur year round.

Property owners who believe their county appraisal district has overestimated the value of their homes or businesses have a right to appeal to their local appraisal review board to reduce their property values, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced May 4.

Two video presentations available at the state comptroller’s Website, www.window.state.tx.us, inform homeowners and small business owners about protest procedures, what to expect during a hearing and how to make an effective presentation to their appraisal review board.

Funding for

school bus retrofits

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on May 3 announced school districts may apply for funds to retrofit older school buses to in order to reduce air pollution.

About $1.7 million is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Application deadline is May 31. The funding comes from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is administered through the Texas Clean School Bus program which provides reimbursement to Texas school districts that install pollution-control devices on diesel school buses.

The devices reduce particulate-matter emissions that can aggravate respiratory problems, asthma, and allergies in children who ride the buses.

Supreme court justice

to resign

Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill, who was not seeking reelection, on May 7 announced her resignation, effective June 20.

O’Neill’s term would have expired at the end of the year. She was first elected to the state’s highest court in 1998.