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More Women In Local Executive Boards, Houston’s Low Rate Of Measles Vaccinations, And State Senate Begins Property Tax Reform Hearings

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

A conference room.

More Women In Houston’s Executive Boards

Houston-based publicly traded companies added 24 women to their boards of directors during 2018, according to the Spencer Stuart Board Index.

That’s up from seven added board members in 2017. Women now make up 20 percent of all independent board directors in Houston, up from 16 percent in 2017 and eight percent in 2011.

But when you compare those numbers to S&P 500 companies nationwide, Houston is still behind. On those boards, 24 percent are women, and women made up 40 percent of new board directors in 2018.

Eighty-two percent of the largest Houston-based public companies have at least one female director.

This illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
This illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.

Houston’s Low Rate Of Measles Vaccinations

Too few Houstonians are vaccinated against measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2017, the most recent year with data compiled by the CDC, only 87.8 percent of Houston children between 19 and 35 months had the measles vaccine. That’s the worst in Texas and among the worst in the United States.

The CDC’s target rate for the measles vaccine is 90 percent. That figure comes from a concept called “herd immunity” – if enough people are vaccinated, the disease can’t spread rapidly. That protects people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons.

This week, five cases of measles have been reported in the Greater Houston region, three in Harris County, one in Galveston County and another one in Montgomery County.

Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt.

State Senate Begins Property Tax Reform Hearings

The Texas Legislature is already moving on property tax reform, which Governor Greg Abbott declared an emergency item during his State of the State address on Tuesday. The Senate Property Tax Committee is holding its first hearing on the bill (SB 2) today.

The committee’s chair, Senator Paul Bettencourt, says rising property values are driving tax rates out of control. “We’re not talking rocket science here,” he says. “We’re talking simple math, that as values go up tax rates need to come down.”

The bill would cap property tax growth at a rate of 2.5 percent a year. Anything above that would require voter approval.

The measure also aims to help reform school finance, much of which comes from property taxes. “It does reduce tax revenues for school districts and will increase the cost to the state through the operation of the school funding formula,” Bettencourt says.

Municipal leaders across the state, including Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, say the tax cap would hurt their ability to fund services as their populations grow.

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