The Back MicThe Back Mic: Abbott Hints at Stronger Bar Reopening, Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Resumes, New Campaign Ads Released

This week — Gov. Abbott says he may override localities that don’t allow bars to reopen, the Texas Workforce Commission repositions, and more campaign ads are released.
October 16, 2020

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Abbott Teases Override of County Judges

On Mark Davis’ radio show this week, Governor Abbott addressed the potential that he may override local officials who opt not to allow bars to reopen at 50 capacity

“Harris County, for example, has extremely low cases,” the governor told Davis. “They’ve been at the five percent or so positivity rate for weeks now and they’re in good shape. And if they continue to keep things shut down I may have to go in and override them.”

“But it’s premature to make that because the opening of bars, of course, is just now going into effect.”

On October 7, Abbott gave county judges the option to partially reopen bars in hospital regions where COVID-19 cases account for under 15 percent of hospitalizations. 

The Texan Mug

When questioned on his reasoning for the limitation, Abbott said, “There are certain counties in the state of Texas where there are spikes going on with regard to the spread of [COVID-19], and we wanted to give the judges in those regions the flexibility that they may need to be able to contain it.”

Davis asked what metric would need to be met in order for an override to be issued, and Abbott gave a vague stipulation: “If we have a couple of weeks of time a period where we can see the openings of these operations have not led to a spread, that would lead to additional openings and that would be perhaps a mandate in all counties that bars would be opened, and perhaps they would be able to open now at more than a 50 percent rate.”

Workforce Commission Reinstalls Work Search Requirements

After waiving certain requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced Tuesday that the agency would resume work search requirements so that those seeking unemployment benefits must demonstrate an “active effort to obtain new employment.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for everyone, creating new challenges for workers, employers and their families,” said TWC Executive Director Ed Serna of the pandemic. 

“Let me be clear: we are not over it. But we’re seeing employment opportunities begin to bounce back in Texas as our economy restarts. There are opportunities out there and getting Texans back to work and businesses up and running again will create even more.”

Work search requirements were waived in March at the outset of the pandemic, and will once again be mandatory beginning on November 1. 

New Campaign Ads

With early voting now underway, campaign ads are airing in full force. Here are the latest spots in the races for U.S. Senate, Congress, and a myriad of state legislative seats.

U.S. Senate

U.S. House

Texas Senate

Texas House



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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.