Columns/Opinions

Thu
04
Apr

House and Senate continue to move closer to passing budget

AUSTIN — Last week, with 60 days remaining until the end of the 140-day regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature, the House and Senate vaulted closer toward finalizing a state budget.

On March 27, the House of Representatives voted 149-0 in favor of HB 1, its version of the state budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The lower chamber’s bill allocates some $251 billion to cover the two years and puts $9 billion more than the current budget into education reform, including a teacher pay increase and pension funding, and property tax reform.

Thu
04
Apr

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

The Texas House has passed House Bill 3, the school finance overhaul bill with a historic vote of 148-1. It is headed to the Senate and we will continue to work to ensure school districts are funded equitably.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. House Committee Passes Property Tax Relief

In February, the Senate Property Tax Committee passed SB 2, which would prevent local entities, such as cities and counties from raising their property taxes more than 2.5 percent, without voter approval. Cities and counties can currently collect an additional eight percent in revenues without an election. With the provisions of this bill, if voters do not approve an increase, the entity would be forced to set a tax rate that only allows it to collect revenues from existing properties which are less than 2.5 percent over the previous year.

Fri
29
Mar

Air pollution from tank fire sparks lawsuit

AUSTIN — Images of a stream of billowing dark smoke drew the nation’s attention last week to a fire that engulfed 11 petrochemical storage tanks at the Intercontinental Terminals Company about 15 miles southeast of Houston in Deer Park.

On March 17, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that all state resources be made available to local and industry officials and urged residents to heed the warnings of local officials. Governmental bodies in nearby affected areas ordered residents to shelter in place because of concerns about unhealthy air quality. Deer Park Independent School District and other districts canceled classes for several days.

 

 

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Fri
29
Mar

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

This week, I had the honor of recognizing Smokey the Bear on the Senate floor for his 75th anniversary of service. The Smokey the Bear program is the longestrunning public service advertising campaign in U.S. History.

Wildfire prevention is one of the most critical issues affecting our country, with 9 out of 10 wildfires caused by people. Smokey’s message is as relevant and urgent today as it was in 1944, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

 

 

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Thu
21
Mar

Using swim noodles for catfish

Fishing and Hunting Southeast Texas

As I pitched the last swim noodle float over the side of the boat my Friend Wayne Thomas turned the boat around so that we could see all the way back down our set. The first noodle was about three hundred yards back to the west and all thirty or so of the others floated on their side in an irregular pattern just off the edge of the flooded timber. The only movement in the floats was caused by the gentle easterly breeze. “Wonder if we picked the right spot”, I said, mostly talking to myself. Just then the fifth swim noodle. Stood straight up on end and bobbed up and down in the water. “Fish on”, Wayne said.

Thu
21
Mar

Supplemental funding legislation draws from ‘Rainy Day Fund’

AUSTIN — A few of the funding priorities expressed by the executive, legislative and judicial branches are not covered in Senate Bill 2, the state’s tentatively approved appropriations bill for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

So, on March 13, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB 500, $6 billion in supplemental funding to plug many holes. Some $4.3 billion of the total would be taken out of the Economic Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund. Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the legislation proposes the following allocations:

•cement and industry partners, on March 12 announced the launching of the “On the Road to End Human Trafficking” initiative.

Similar to a neighborhood watch program, the initiative encourages everyone to know, watch for and report signs of trafficking.

Thu
14
Mar

The politician who could not win for losing

Texas History

On Mar. 18, 1861, a Lone Star Confederate asked Texas’ next-door neighbors to forsake the Union for the southern alliance, but President Jefferson Davis sent the wrong Reb to Arkansas.

Twenty-five years earlier, Williamson Simpson Oldham took the “Land of Opportunity” by storm. Arriving at Fayetteville in the fall of 1836, four months after Arkansas statehood, the Tennessean quickly became the most prosperous attorney in town.

As impressive on the campaign trail as in the courtroom, the confident newcomer easily won election to the General Assembly. The youngest member of the legislature, he decided against resting on his laurels and went on to become speaker of the Arkansas house before the age of 30.

 

 

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Thu
14
Mar

Lawmakers start rolling out high-priority legislation

Vidorian file photo

“OPERATION GREEN GRASS”---Mayor Tommy Rainbolt, left, is shown making the first purchase to kickoff the Vidor Lions Club project of Operation Green Grass Saturday in Woods Shopping Center. Club President Joe Wingerson is shown accepting $1 from Mayor Rainbolt for a bag of rich, barnyard fertilizer, being sold by the Lions as a fund raising project to benefit the club’s sight conservation program and to assist in its crippled children’s work. The sale will continue through the month of March. Orders for five or more bags will be accepted and delivered to anyone calling RO 9-4946.

AUSTIN — With the filing of legislation that would give teachers an across-the-board pay increase, Texas lawmakers showed progress toward solving the complex issues of school finance and property tax reform.

Senate Bill 3, passed March 4 by the full Senate on a voice vote, would entitle each classroom teacher and full-time librarian to a state-financed $5,000 increase above their 2018-2019 school year salary. The bill would not stop school districts from providing merit-based raises to teachers in addition to the state’s $5,000 increase. Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, SB 3, if approved by the House, would make the raise effective for the school year beginning in the fall. Nelson said it would cost $4 billion to give the state’s estimated 350,000 teachers the raise, and that funds to cover the pay hike will be in the state budget.

 

 

Thu
07
Mar

Metcalf won the most basketball games in SWC

Texas History

On Mar. 11, 1964, a dozen days after winning their first Southwest Conference basketball championship in 41 years, the Texas Aggies fell to powerful Texas Western in only the second NCAA Tournament game in school history.

A rookie head coach by the name of Shelby Metcalf had shown Aggieland there really was something else to do in the winter besides get ready for the next football season.

The 34 year old Okie with the mischievous sense of humor was born and raised in Tulsa. The high school hoops star attended a Sooner State junior college for one year before transferring to East Texas State in Commerce, where Bobby Rogers turned him into an All-American guard in the smallcollege division.

 

 

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Thu
07
Mar

Order stops state, local authorities from purging their voter rolls

Vidorian file photo

Andrea Poole reads aloud to Savannah Sanford, inley Jorgensen, Macy Chilton and Kelly Poole. Poole will be starting a storytime March 31 at the Vidor Public Library, reading every other Wednesday morning to children not yet in school.

March 4, 2004

AUSTIN — A San Antonio federal judge on Feb. 27 ordered Texas Secretary of State David Whitley not to purge the names of voters whose registrations he challenged as being potentially fraudulent.

The order came in a voting rights case filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens and other plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the suit. Biery then ordered officials not to remove anyone from the current voter registration list until authorized by the court.

 

 

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