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Texas Matters: The GOP v. H-E-B

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David Martin Davies

“Whereas Charles Butt is a Democrat billionaire who has a long history of advocating for policies contrary to the Republican Party of Texas platform...”: that’s how a resolution begins that was passed by four Texas Republican Senate district conventions.

Many in Texas don’t know who Charles Butt is but they know his stores. He is the chairman of the H-E-B grocery store chain.

H‑E‑B has more than 420 stores in Texas and Mexico and over 145 thousand employees. It’s the 19th-largest retailer in the United States. And it donates five percent of pretax profits to charity, focusing on giving to food banks and education causes.

But that’s not sitting well with some Republicans in Texas. They want Charles Butt tossed out of the Hill Country Fair.

Republican delegates passed resolutions denouncing the billionaire and the political action committees he funds in opposition to school vouchers and other issue. They also accuse Butt and his political action committees of lobbying for amnesty to illegal immigrants, against a ban on sanctuary cities and taking actions against state voter suppression laws. The resolution also notes that H-E-B “has sponsored drag queen shows for children.”

H-E-B's Mobile Kitchen and Disaster Relief Units have distributed thousands of hot meals to volunteers and victims in hard hit areas in Texas. After the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde H-E-B and the Butt family donated $10 million toward building a new school.

For many in Texas the H-E-B grocery store chain is held in high esteem. Surveys have shown there’s a lot of brand loyalty for the San Antonio based retailer.

It could be a bad idea for the Texas GOP to ask Texans to choose between the Republican Party and H-E-Buddy

To tell us more I’m joined by Forrest Wilder, senior editor at Texas Monthly.

Texas Group Homes Pay

Group homes offer Texans with intellectual disabilities a place to live, with a few roommates and round-the-clock care.

But providers say the quality of that care is suffering -- because group homes can't find and keep enough staff.

Advocates blame the low wages set by the state legislature.

As K-E-R-A's Miranda Suarez reports, group home workers have to make life-and-death decisions for their clients in a job that pays less than some fast-food places.

EV Charging

The electric vehicle industry is booming and EV’s are quickly growing as a viable alternative to traditional gas-powered cars.

North Texas is home to more than a third of all EVs registered in the state.

As KERA’s Pablo Arauz Peña reports, that means there’s a growing need for better EV infrastructure across the region.

Collier Prize for State Journalism

I’ve been saying it on the air for almost 25 years— that what happens at the statehouse will frequently impact your life more than what happens in Washington D.C. or at city hall. But somehow state news doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. Frankly, that's because it’s hard and it’s expensive. And because there is a lack of journalism oversight in the halls of the state capitol the people frequently suffer.

Bolstering state and local journalism is what the Collier Prize for State Government Accountability is all about and working with the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications they will be expanding on that.

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Dean Hub Brown explains that state focused journalism is stressed and under- resourced.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi