Columns/Opinions

Thu
17
Aug

Abbott signs 3 bills with few likely to reach his desk in final week

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Three bills reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk last week, with the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature set to expire Aug. 16.

 

Abbott signed all three into law on Aug. 11:

 

-- Senate Bill 5, increasing criminal penalties for voter fraud, by Kelly Hancock, RNorth Richland Hills, and sponsored in the House by Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood;

 

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Thu
17
Aug

Middle-aged clerk turns to robbing trains

By Bartee Haile

 

On Aug. 23, 1892, a Gainesville newspaper confirmed the rumored death of a local politician turned train robber.

 

Eugene Franklin Bunch did not fit the stereotype of the late nineteenth century outlaw. He was not an illiterate saddle tramp nor a trigger- happy sociopath but the well-educated son of a Mississippi planter. So why did he chose a life of crime at the age of 43?

 

Soon after the Civil War, Bunch moved to Louisiana where he taught school and married a southern belle from the same social class. Sometime in the early 1870’s, the couple emigrated to Cooke County, Texas, living briefly in Dexter, a source of illegal whiskey for reservation Indians, before settling in Gainesville.

 

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Thu
10
Aug

House passes bills to give retired teachers relief from rising costs

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN – The Texas House on Aug. 1 approved House Bill 20, legislation appropriating $212.7 million from the “rainy day” reserve fund to help defray rising healthcare costs for retired school employees.

 

Primary authors of HB 20 include: Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston; John Zerwas, R-Katy; and Donna Howard, D-Austin.

 

The House also approved HB 80, legislation that through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas would make a one-time cost-of-living adjustment to the retirement benefits paid to certain retirees, disability retirees and survivors. To be eligible for the increase, the annuitant must have retired between Aug. 31, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2015.

 

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Thu
10
Aug

Mexican Revolution spreads to South Texas

By Bartee Haile

 

In the running war with Mexican bandits, six U.S. Army cavalrymen fought a brief battle with hit-and-run raiders on Aug. 10, 1915 twenty-five miles on the Texas side of the Rio Grande.

 

It was only a matter of time before the violent convulsions wracking Mexico would spill over the border. In the summer of 1915, halfway through the revolution that eventually took two million lives and drove hundreds of thousands into exile, Texans living in the Valley suddenly became targets in a shooting war.

 

On Aug. 6, a dozen bandits rode into Sebastian 35 miles north of Brownsville. The proprietor of the general store in the sleepy hamlet turned to greet the always welcome customers and found himself staring down the barrels of two rifles. The robbers helped themselves to his sparse shelves before moving onto the next business.

 

Thu
03
Aug

House, Senate have not yet engaged in back-and-forth on key bills

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — Not a single bill had been agreed to by the state House and Senate as of July 28, exactly 10 days into the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature.

Lawmakers have a tall order served up to them by Gov. Greg Abbott in the form of 20 mustresolve matters in the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Something could be on Abbott’s desk in short order if toppriority “sunset” legislation to ensure the continuation of the Texas Medical Board and several other healthcare-related state oversight boards gains approval by both chambers. The Senate’s version is SB 20 by Van Taylor, RPlano; the House has produced two versions: HB 1 and HB 2, both by Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock. There are enough differences in the bills to spark elongated floor debates, if lawmakers are so inclined.

Thu
03
Aug

Texan dropped the bomb that ended the war

By Bartee Haile

Capt. Kermit K. Beahan of Houston tossed and turned the night of Aug. 8, 1945 knowing that the next day, which also happened to be his twenty-seventh birthday, he might be called upon to drop the second atom bomb on Japan.

The bloody 11-week battle for Okinawa, that ended in June 1945 with 49,000 Allied casualties, showed defeat had not diminished the fanatical determination of the Japanese to fight to the death. For “Operation Olympic,” the invasion of the home islands scheduled for November, the Pentagon estimate of a million Americans killed and wounded was realistic if not conservative.

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Thu
27
Jul

Cholera the unstoppable scourge in early Texas

By Bartee Haile

Cholera again reared its deadly head in San Antonio on Jul. 30, 1834 causing the panic-stricken populace to flee for their lives as the second outbreak in as many years turned Texas’ largest settlement into a ghost town.

Early Texans knew from tragic experience that cholera was a killer, an unstoppable scourge which struck suddenly and spared nobody. The highly contagious intestinal ailment produced severe vomiting and diarrhea that quickly depleted body fluids. In five days or less, the dehydrated victim went into shock and more often than not wound up in the graveyard.

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Thu
27
Jul

Senate races through agenda to get to other-than-Sunset bills

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — The 85th Texas Legislature convened at the Capitol on July 18 for its first called session, the main purpose being for lawmakers to extend the life of certain state agencies scheduled for termination, and then to proceed to other matters.

At the urging of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Senate moved quickly to pass legislation continuing the function of the Texas Medical Board and several other health-care related state oversight boards through 2019. The House, led by Speaker Joe Straus, RSan Antonio, tentatively passed similar legislation (House Bill 1) through its State Affairs committee, but 10 amendments to the bill have been pre-filed, and those, plus the main bill, will be subject to a full-House floor debate scheduled for July 24.

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Thu
20
Jul

Abbott gives lawmakers initial marching orders

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on July 10 issued a formal proclamation for the special session that begins July 18, directing the Texas Legislature to extend expiration dates for the Texas Medical Board and other state boards that regulate psychologists, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors and social workers.

Abbott said he plans to issue a supplemental proclamation further directing lawmakers to pass another list of items he previously announced. The areas of legislation would:

— Reform laws governing ad valorem property taxes;

— Increase average salary and benefits of Texas teachers;

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Thu
20
Jul

The AP Stylebook is getting crazy

Back in those ancient days when teletypes gave us the sound effects for news, the Associated Press was esteemed as the gold standard of objective news coverage. Inside a liberal media bubble, that pretense continues. But for decades now, AP has tacked hard to port along with the rest of the media establishment. They'll deny it, of course, because that's what they do.

But the evidence is there, emblazoned in the AP Stylebook, which sets the rules for the language of news reporting. It also sets the tone of the media elite's daily composition in every format — print, online or broadcast. They say it "defines clear news writing" and call it "the journalist's bible," which is a fairly damning phrase, since it rejects the Bible.

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