Columns/Opinions

Thu
17
Jan

Modest inventor who changed the world

Texas History

The month after bringing home the Nobel Prize for Physics, Jack Kilby found himself back in the spotlight on Jan. 16, 2001 as the Texas legislature honored the creator of the microchip.

Everyone who has ever used a calculator, cell phone, digital camera, pacemaker or the multitude of other high-tech gadgets that present-day inhabitants of this planet take for granted owes a debt of gratitude to the unassuming genius who made it all possible. But he would have been the last person to remind anybody of that.

Although many sources cite Jefferson City, Missouri as his birthplace, Jack St. Clair Kilby clearly disagreed. In the autobiographical statement requested by the Nobel Committee, he wrote, “I was born in 1923 in Great Bend, Kansas.”

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Thu
17
Jan

House elects new speaker as legislative session kicks off

AUSTIN — The 86th Texas Legislature convened on Jan. 8 with all its customary ceremonies and recognitions— chief of which was the unanimous election of a new House speaker — Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen.

On Jan. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, and Speaker Bonnen announced their joint commitment to passing legislation that would improve how public education is funded. That arduous and heretofore divisive task means rethinking and recalibrating what share of the cost would be funded by local property taxes — public education’s primary source of funding.

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Thu
10
Jan

Oilman Johnny-on-the-spot at Spindletop

Texas History

“Buckskin Joe” Cullinan arrived at Spindletop on Jan. 11, 1901, less than 24 hours after the eruption of the Lucas gusher, ready to bet his bottom dollar that the bonanza would spark the biggest oil boom ever.

The son of Irish immigrants was born in Pennsylvania on New Year’s Eve 1860 just a few miles from the first producing well on the North American continent. Going to work for Standard Oil as a 22 year old roughneck, he climbed to the top rung of the corporate ladder in a fast-paced 15 years.

Cullinan received an unusual letter in 1897 from the mayor of Corsicana, Texas. A fortune in black gold lay beneath his sleepy community, the civic leader claimed, but no one had the money or the know-how to retrieve the fossil fuel. Could the oil executive come take a look?

Thu
10
Jan

Texas Legislature to convene with list of big issues to tackle

AUSTIN — The 86th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 8 as the partial shutdown of the federal government that began Dec. 22 enters a third week.

As always, lawmakers’ priorities will be the writing of a two-year state budget and deciding how to fund it. In the 140 days of the regular session, they also will consider public education funding, property tax reform, health care, public safety, transportation, water and a host of other issues.

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Thu
03
Jan

Texas waits for Senate agreement on disaster aid funding

AUSTIN — Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in November, remaining at the same 42-year low rate as in October, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Dec.

21.

The Texas economy added 14,000 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs in November and annual employment growth was 3.0 percent for the month, marking 103 consecutive months of annual growth, according to the commission.

“The addition of 365,400 jobs over the year and 14,000 jobs in November demonstrates the consistency with which employers in our state create job opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “The Texas economy offers employers access to a competitive workforce and provides job seekers with career options in a variety of growing Texas industries. The numbers are a testament to the resilience of our Texas employers and the diversity of our Texas economy,” she added.

Thu
27
Dec

Whitley succeeds Pablos as Texas secretary of state

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 17 announced the appointment of David Whitley as Texas’ 112th secretary of state.

In his new role, Whitley will act as Texas’ chief elections officer, as protocol officer for state and international affairs, and will serve as liaison for the governor on Mexico and border affairs. Whitley’s appointment fills the vacancy left by outgoing Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who served in the post for two years.

“David has been an invaluable member of my administration for over a decade, both in my time as attorney general and during the entirety of my first term as governor,” Abbott said. “He has a keen understanding of the election process, and has served as a top advisor for international relations within the Office of the Governor. I am confident that in his new role as secretary of state, David will continue to safeguard the integrity of our elections and maintain Texas’ standing on the international stage.”

Thu
27
Dec

What’s happening in our state capital

My Five Cents

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were filled with family and good food, as I know mine were.

Here are five things happening around your state this month:

1. 86th Legislative Session

When you hear from me next, the Texas Legislature will have begun the 86th Legislative Session, which is set to last for 140 days. During this time, the Legislature must pass a two-year budget as well as address existing laws and consider new legislation. To stay involved with what is going on during Session, you can visit www.capitol.state.tx.us. Through this site, you will be able to view a live stream of Senate and House committee hearings as well as watching both chambers when they are in session. You can also look up bills that may interest or concern you.

Thu
20
Dec

Texas’ top lawyer cheers court ruling against Obamacare

AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded a Dec. 14 Fort Worth federal district court decision declaring unconstitutional the U.S. Affordable Care Act, widely known as “Obamacare.”

Ten months ago, Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel led a 20-state coalition lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law, arguing that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty in Obamacare’s individual mandate when it enacted President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul.

Thu
20
Dec

End of Mexican Revolution after 13 bloody years

Texas History

Confident of American support for his coup, the latest leader in the musical chairs of the Mexican Revolution called on the U.S. consul at Veracruz on Dec. 20, 1923.

To the relief of the Mexican people, 13 years of chaos and carnage appeared to be behind them. The faction-ridden struggle with its cast of self-centered characters had cost them dearly -- two million dead and at least 750,000 refugees, a quarter of a million to Texas alone.

Alvaro Obregon had ruled the ruined country for three relatively peaceful years since the “suicide” of the previous president, Venustiano Carranza. Exhausted Mexicans welcomed the calm after the endless storm and prayed Obregon would keep his promise to transfer power to his anointed successor, Plutarco Elias Calles, without the usual bloodshed.

Thu
13
Dec

Texas, nation mourn death of former president

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 3 proclaimed Dec. 5 as an official day of mourning across the Lone Star State in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who died in Houston on Nov. 30.

 

In the proclamation, Abbott encouraged Texans to “gather, assemble and pay their respects to the memory of George Herbert Walker Bush through ceremonies in homes, businesses, public buildings, schools, places of worship or other appropriate places for public expression of grief and remembrance.”

 

The proclamation also allowed state employees to attend such observances. State agencies, offices and departments were closed on that day, with general government operations and services maintained by reduced-size work crews.

 

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