I asked Pastor Leonard Navarre of Lubbock, Texas to lead us in prayer for our Dear Friends in Texas……

Almighty God we come before you in the name of Jesus.  We lift up our prayers for all those suffering in Texas.  We pray for your mighty hand to quickly solve the water and electrical problems.  You are the great and powerful one who has done many miracles.  So we come before you to performs miracles to comfort our citizens in Texas because also to provide water as you did to the children of Israel in the wilderness.  We also pray to you to powerfully resolve the electrical issues to provide heat for them.  We pray all this in the name that is above every name – Jesus – our our Jesus Christ.  Amen


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In today’s Brief: Texans are still facing water issues, last week’s winter storm could cost Texas big, and Prairie View A&M University students are fighting a legacy of voter suppression. 
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A week without reliable water: Over 1.4 million Texans still faced water disruptions on Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after Texas’ winter storms wreaked havoc on the state’s power grid and water services. More than 20,000 people were completely without running water Wednesday afternoon because of water main breaks, mechanical failures or other issues. Experts estimate that damage from the storm will cost billions as Texans deal with burst pipes, which have caused some homes to flood.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sought to reassure Texans that the state was moving aggressively to get to the bottom of last week’s power grid failure. But he didn’t announce anything new and continued to blame the state’s electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, for offering false assurances that it was ready for the storm. Abbott also reiterated he has designated ERCOT reform and the “winterization” of the power system as emergency items for the current legislative session.

Costlier than Hurricane Harvey: The winter storm that left dozens of Texans dead, millions without power and nearly 15 million people with water issues could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey. According to Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Department of Emergency Management, state agencies have so far reported spending $41 million on the storm, and local governments had spent $49 million. Kidd said he expects the state to be reimbursed for 75% of its expenses by the federal government. But while some officials say it’s still too early to know the total cost of destruction, lawmakers are scrambling to account for the storm in the middle of the 2021 legislative session already hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story by the Tribune’s Mitchell Ferman.

➕ Watch the Texas House and Senate hold hearings about last week’s winter storm, starting at 9 a.m. Central.

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Fighting a county’s legacy of racism: Decade after decade — long after equal voting rights became the law of the land — Waller County’s predominantly white power structure has thrown up hurdles to keep students from the historically Black Prairie View A&M University from voting. Or, at least, to limit their ability to wield meaningful political influence at the ballot box. And three generations of Jayla Allen’s family have been caught up in the struggle.

In 2018, Allen became the lead plaintiff in a drawn-out lawsuit alleging that the county violated the constitutional rights and federal protections for Black voters by setting up a lopsided schedule that offered students fewer opportunities to vote early than the county’s white residents. The ongoing legal case, set in a place with a dark history of discrimination, is playing out at the onset of a modern reckoning over racism and its byproducts, including voter suppression.

Yet officials in Waller contend the litigation over the 2018 early voting schedule is not a continuation of past suppression tactics. They balk at today’s Waller County being painted with too broad a brush based on a history in which current leaders say they played no part. Read the full story by the Tribune’s Alexa Ura.

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Prairie View A&M University graduate Jayla Allen, 22, became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging Waller County violated the constitutional rights and federal protections for Black voters when it set up its 2018 early voting schedule. Photo by Ben Torres for The Texas Tribune

You can change public policy overnight, take a vote administratively by the Legislature, but the culture that it affects changes very, very slowly. It’s like turning a ship.
— Frank Jackson, a longtime administrator for Prairie View A&M University. He’s mentored Prairie View A&M alumna Jayla Allen — the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging Waller County violated the constitutional rights and federal protections for Black voters when it set up its 2018 early voting schedule.
Prairie View A&M University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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By Elvia Limón
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