Columns/Opinions

Thu
01
Jun

Legislature completes regular session with main task accomplished

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — The 140-day 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature ended on May 29 with hugs, tears and fanfare, plus demonstrations against “anti-immigrant” legislation and a scuffle involving members on the House floor.

Primarily, though, both chambers signed off on Senate Bill 1, the state budget for 2018-2019, and in doing so accomplished their only constitutionally required task.

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Thu
01
Jun

Comey’s firing doesn’t matter to folks outside the beltway

Ever since President Donald Trump ham-handedly fired FBI Director James Comey, a cadre of journalists, partisan Democrats and activists has demanded that Congress, a specially appointed independent commission, FBI agents and at least one special prosecutor singly or in unison burrow into Trump's dalliances with Russian operatives -- with the goal, of course, to bring to light the evidence that Trump is a stooge of the Kremlin intent of destroying the American republic.

With last week's appointment of a special counsel to look into Trump's affairs, it seems such calls have been inescapable for the average news consumer. And yet, we now know few seem to care.

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Thu
25
May

Booze gets the better of Dixie Dead-Eye

By Bartee Haile

Dallas Stoudenmire resigned under pressure as city marshal of El Paso on May 27, 1882 and promised to get help for his drinking problem.

After his recovery from four near-fatal Civil War wounds, the Alabaman emigrated to Texas and gave farming a half-hearted try. Deciding sod-busting was not for him, he rode with the Rangers for several months before moving onto the Panhandle. But wherever he went, gunplay was not far behind.

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Thu
25
May

State budget bill moves forward as conference committee agrees

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — Texas Senate and House budget conferees met frequently last week and on May 20 managed to reach compromise on a $218 billion state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019.

However, Senate Bill 1 must gain final approval from both the House and Senate in order for the budget to continue on to the governor’s desk. But as pressing a matter as the budget may seem, the bulk of time in weekend floor debates was used on a variety of other measures, such as property tax reform, municipal annexation, school bathroom accommodations for transgender students and religious conscience considerations for government employees.

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Thu
18
May

Warrior priest saves Texas for Spanish crown

By Bartee Haile

Spanish authorities banished Father Juan Manuel Zambrano from provincial Texas on May 22, 1814, but the combative priest stood his ground and forced his earthly adversaries to rescind the order.

Gov. Manuel de Salcedo succeeded in sending Zambrano into exile in 1807. After three long years of isolation in the Mexican interior, the penitent priest was permitted to return to his native San Antonio over the strong objections of the governor.

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Thu
18
May

Legislature grinds toward May 29 close with much still to accomplish

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — With a mere two weeks remaining until the end of the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers have not yet finalized a state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The Legislature’s 150 House members and 31 Senate members can work around the clock, if need be. Their only absolutely required accomplishment in the 140-daylong session is to produce that budget and put it on the governor’s desk. If they don’t, the governor will call them back for a special session.

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Thu
11
May

LBJ faces mudslinger in 1946 campaign

By Bartee Haile

Hardy Hollers began his bid for Lyndon Johnson’s congressional seat on May 13, 1946 with these fighting words: “He went on a few months’ sightseeing tour of the Pacific with a camera in one hand and leading his publicity agent by the other.”

For the past year, LBJ had thought about running for governor instead of a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, an opinion poll persuaded him to play it safe. Even though the 37 year old politician was the first choice of prospective voters in 23 towns, his 22-percent share in the field of six made him think twice about a statewide race.

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Thu
11
May

House joins Senate in passing constitutional convention measure

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on May 4 approved Senate Joint Resolution 2, a measure calling for a convention of the states, as contemplated and enabled by Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

The state Senate on Feb. 28 originally passed SJR 2, authored by Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury. Every member of the House and Senate who signed as a co-author or co-sponsor of SJR 2 is Republican, and no Democrat voted in favor of the resolution.

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Thu
04
May

Publisher urges Texans never to surrender

By Bartee Haile

In the May 9, 1865 edition of his newspaper the Houston Telegram, publisher Edward Hopkins Cushing encouraged his readers to keep on fighting and never to knuckle under to the Yankees.

Throughout Lone Star history, the most zealous residents have often been those who were Texan by choice rather than birth. A prime example was Vermont-born and Dartmouth- educated Cushing, who became a naturalized citizen of Texas in 1850 at the age of 21.

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Thu
04
May

GOP majority pushes ‘sanctuary city’ bill to passage in Texas House

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — During his “State of the State” address on Jan. 31, Governor Greg Abbott declared legislation banning so-called “sanctuary cities” to be one of his top priorities and an emergency item, saying: “Elected officials don’t get to pick and choose which laws they obey.”

In 2011, when Rick Perry was governor, he made the original call for such a ban. Last week, after more than a dozen hours of spirited floor debate and parliamentary maneuvers, the Texas House approved legislation banning socalled sanctuary cities.

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