5 things to know: Friday

5 things to know: Friday

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Memorandum of Understanding authorized for SPC Downtown Academic Center

LUBBOCK, Texas - A Memorandum of Understanding with South Plains College to give City Hall a future was approved by Lubbock City Council. A collaboration between the two and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance to determine if the building is a smart expansion into downtown for SPC.

"We're improving accessibility and quality of education to students," said Robin Satterwhite, President of SPC."It's an opportunity for students to look toward an associate degree and grow the overall growth of our education."

An investigation will go on over the next year between the city, SPC and LEDA. It will look into the cost to remodel the 101,000 square foot building.

According to Satterwhite, the enrollment at SPC's Reese Campus has grown eighty-nine percent since it opened. He said this would help continue the expansion of the school.

"Whether that barrier was financial, or that barrier was location, whatever that barrier may have been," said Satterwhite, "We're helping meet that and that's the exciting thing that it's reaching students and give them opportunities."

"It's a great move to what we're trying to do to redeveloping downtown," said Mayor Dan Pope. "It's two thousand, plus new people in downtown every day. We're the largest city in the state without a downtown community college presence. It's very important to our future,"

One key part to the redevelopment of downtown according to Pope, is bringing in more jobs, which he said this expansion would do.

LEDA agreed to contribute five million dollars to renovations to the current City Hall. Followed by five hundred thousand dollars per year for ten years to help cover annual costs.

Trump Administration considering allowing states to drug test for SNAP benefits

LUBBOCK, Texas - In a controversial move the Trump Administration is considering giving states more control over federal food assistance programs.

It is a move many Republican governors support that has been struck down in the court system in the past. Currently federal law bans states from implementing such rules on food stamp eligibility.

The primary program in question, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In January, almost four million Texans were on the program, 42,000 in Lubbock County. Most of those were in the 18 to 59 age group. According to the proposal those who do not have dependents and are eligible for work will be tested. 

Lubbock Senator Charles Perry said he supports the idea of the policy but implementing it is a different story.

"We've got to be careful that we don't create a inefficient, expensive process that already works arguably, fairly well," Perry said. "Just to say we're going to drug test people on welfare benefits, which I think is a good concept, we need to think through the whole process and at the end of the day effectively exclude the one beneficiary of that program and that's the families, the kids."

There is not an expected date for when this rule could be released. Perry said he does expect to see the issue come up during the next legislative session.

2018 Farm Bill released

LUBBOCK, Texas - The 2018 Farm Bill is out and it's a big one.

Also known as The Agriculture and Nutrition Act, the proposal covers everything from loan programs, enhancing rural infrastructure to resource conservation. It also deals with commodities on the side.

Added to the list of covered commodities: other oil seeds and seed cotton. This codifies the fiber's inclusion under USDA crop insurance. 

Seed cotton's effective price for loss coverage is 36 cents a pound. Futures for No. 2 fiber were nearly double that at closing Thursday.

An entire section of the Farm Bill is dedicated to growing rural infrastructure and economic development. It focuses on increasing access to health care, expanding high speed internet to hard-to-reach communities, adds more incentives and grants to regional development, expands 911 access and eliminates unfunded programs. 

"I think altogether they provide for sustainable communities," Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington said. "And they provide for a safety net that will allow our farmers to really grow for the first time and pull out of what has been a historic downturn in the market for them."

Arrington serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

The Latest: Texas governor says half of 1,400 troops on job
WESLACO, Texas (AP) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says more than half of roughly 1,400 National Guard members the state wants to put on the U.S.-Mexico border are already on the job.
Abbott said Thursday in the Texas border city of Weslaco that morale is high among troops. He spoke to reporters after a briefing with National Guard officers and Border Patrol agents.
The Republican defended President Donald Trump's military deployment plan to fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.  Abbott says about 450 people each day are apprehended crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley alone.
Abbott said 1,400 troops in Texas may be the final size of the operation but that the number could change "depending on circumstances on the ground."

Trump plans to talk to allies before Syria strike decision
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has put off a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria after tweeting earlier that they could happen "very soon or not so soon at all." The White House said Thursday he would consult further with allies.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned such an attack carried the risk of spinning out of control, suggesting caution ahead of a decision on how to respond to an attack against civilians last weekend that U.S. officials are increasingly certain involved the use of banned chemical weapons. British officials said up to 75 people were killed.
Although Mattis noted that military action carried risks, he also emphasized that Syrian use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated.

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