Weekend Roundup: Texas Abortion Clinics

New abortion law in Texas is resulting in closure of several clinics • Communities could lose eligibility for USDA housing programs • Affordable Care Act will benefit rural areas, Iowa report says • Ambivalence over the local economic impact of Keystone XL pipeline

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Texas Abortion Clinics. Four abortion clinics in rural Texas are preparing to close, and three more say they might have to do so, after the state enacted stricter laws governing abortion services.

“Almost all [of the clinics that are closing] are in smaller cities, and abortion rights supporters worry that women in rural areas will lose access to the procedure and face more hardships,” Brittney Martin of the Dallas Morning News reports.

A big hurdle for the rural clinics is the new requirement that doctors at the abortion centers must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

The new law, which supporters said they hoped would limit abortions in the state, begins to take effect October 29.

USDA Housing Eligibility to Change. New rules governing the areas eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture housing programs could take effect October 1. In California alone, the change could mean that 923 cities previously eligible for the programs would no longer be able to use the federal funding for home loans and repairs, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The new rules limit eligibility to cities of 10,000 or fewer (20,000 if they are in a metropolitan county) and counts population size by 2010 Census data. Both changes will reduce the number of communities that can use the program.

The Bee reports on the impact of those changes on one housing nonprofit:

For nonprofit housing agencies like Self-Help Enterprises of Visalia, the rule change could have a devastating effect.

Over the last 10 years, Self-Help has built more than 80% of its homes in the Valley cities that are slated to become ineligible. And most of the agency’s homeowners use the USDA direct loan program.

Under the new rule, “the families that participate in our program would not have access to the best direct mortgage available,” said Tom Collishaw, vice president of Self-Help. “And Self-Help would not be able to use the grant it received from the USDA to help people. Suddenly we wouldn’t be able to help people in those areas.”

Affordable Care Act. Radio Iowa follows up on the report from the Center for Rural Affairs on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on rural communities.

Jon Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs says that fewer rural residents get preventative medical screenings. That’s because rural people are less likely to have insurance that covers those services, he told Radio Iowa. ACA-mandated changes in health insurance should improve insurance options for many rural residents, he said, meaning rural residents will be more likely to get the benefits of routine medical preventative tests.

Keystone XL’s Local Economic Impact? • Here’s one we missed before the Labor Day holiday. Bloomberg News looks at the possible local economic impact on communities that are located along the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The story has a good roundup of the various expenditures and revenues associated with pipeline construction and maintenance. The economics of the project are complicated. And there’s plenty there for folks on either side of the issue to point to as arguments for or against building the pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through the Midwest.

Ninety percent of the construction jobs would likely go to people from outside the local region, the story says. Workers would live in “mancamps” that have catered meals and other services, meaning there will be little reason for them to spend money locally. Much of the equipment for the pipeline will be manufactured overseas.

On the other hand, local tax revenues would rise, and some local suppliers could see increased business. And an industry-funded report says there will be more money for hotels, restaurants, auto-repair shops and other businesses. That report says the pipeline would generate $817 million for Nebraska alone over the two-year construction period.

But a federal analysis says the pipeline will generate only 35 fulltime jobs once its construction is complete.

 

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