Columns/Opinions

Tue
15
Aug

Back-to-school advice for the upcoming school year

By HEATHER MASSEY

The dog days of summer are upon us, and that means the new school year is but a short month away for many students here in Texas. Back-to-school commercials are in full swing and parents are gearing up to shop for the new school year.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average of $687.72 on back-to-school shopping. Consumers will be purchasing school supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes. Total spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $83.6 billion, a more than 10 percent increase from last year.

 

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Tue
15
Aug

Look, up in the sky!

By DON NEWBURY

If you were driving recently in picturesque Palo Duro Canyon, don’t think the high elevation was getting to you, hallucination had begun or that your eyes were in trick mode.

Pshaw, it really may have been a 103-year-old man zooming down the zipline. More specifically, it may have been Elvin Howell from the Carillon LifeCare Community in Lubbock.

The able-bodied centenarian wasn’t alone. He was joined by 18 others who made the 90-minute bus trip to the canyon where a thrilling ride and picnic awaited. If you think “bucket lists” came into play, give yourself an “A.”…

 

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Tue
08
Aug

House passes bills to give retired teachers relief from rising costs

By  Ed Sterling | Texas Press Association

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, RLufkin; 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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Tue
08
Aug

When leaks dry up, we turn to FOIA

By Lata nott

When we talk about the importance of a free press, what we're really talking about is how important it is for the press to serve as a watchdog on the government. The highest responsibility of journalism is to supply the people with information about what their government is doing, so that the people can hold the government accountable, and make the best possible decisions when they vote. But if you're not a journalist (full disclosure: I am not), you may not give a lot of thought to how journalists get that information in the first place.

Official government press releases and briefings aren't really the place to find information about government misconduct. Obviously, leaks are a much better source when it comes to getting the real dirt. But the recent emphasis on prosecuting leakers is likely to have a major chilling effect on that source of information.

 

Tue
01
Aug

Droning on and on

By LEE PITTS

You can't pick up an ag publication these days without finding a story on how drones will revolutionize the cow business. Supposedly, they'll do everything from checking on float valves to spotting a trespassing hunter. They'll even find cattle on a far flung ranch. I've got news for the experts, we already have such a device... it's called a dog. The initial cost of a good dog and a good drone are similar, two to five thousand dollars, but drones could be cheaper in the long run because you don't have to feed them every day or take themto a vet. Although drones could get pricey if your irate neighbor insists on shooting yours down repeatedly.

 

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Tue
01
Aug

For three Texas leaders, some losses could be victories

By ROSS RAMSEY

The special session of the Texas Legislature could come out like a soccer tournament for 5-year-olds: No matter what happens, everybody gets a trophy.

The layout of this legislative overtime is familiar: 20 issues, a maximum of 30 days, one must-pass issue and 19 that would make this or that political group happy. Failure to address that must-pass issue is really the only thing that could make lawmakers look incompetent. It’s about maintaining the operation of five agencies — including the one that licenses doctors to practice in Texas — for another two years.

 

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Tue
25
Jul

A day at the capitol

By MELISSA PERNER

Seeing government in action is an eyeopening experience, especially in Austin. Last week, I received a call from the Texas Press Association asking if I would come to our state capitol and testify against a bill in the current State Legislature Special Session.

I immediately felt this sense of donning my super hero cap and racing into action to save the day. Of course I would go testify, save public notices in newspapers and fight for truth, justice and the American way.

 

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Tue
25
Jul

Understanding state sales tax, how to report and pay

By ADRIANA B. HAVINS

You want to open a business.

You know almost exactly how much it will cost you to start, but what about sales tax? As a new business owner, this will be one of the first taxes you will encounter once you start selling your product or service. After setting up your company’s legal structure as either a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, etc., you will need to visit the State Comptroller’s Office to find out about your sales tax responsibility.

 

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Tue
18
Jul

Texans deserve better than Obamacare

By JOHN CORNYN

When Republicans in Congress began working on our health care reform plan earlier this year, I asked folks from around the state to tell me about their experiences under Obamacare. The response was overwhelming.

I heard from one small business owner in Donna who was faced with an unthinkable decision: fire four employees just to comply with Obamacare’s mandates, or owe the government more than $100,000 in fines that could bankrupt his business. He didn’t have much of a choice.

 

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Tue
18
Jul

Opportunities for students to continue their education with military service

By ANDREW MURR

One of the great privileges of being a state representative is that, from time to time, I am afforded a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the next generation of Texas leaders. One such opportunity that I am excited to share with you today is the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program (TSSSP), which offers scholarships to hard-working students who are dedicated to their education and to serving their state and nation through military service.

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