Columns/Opinions

Tue
29
Aug
Edgar's picture

Thirteen new laws make it out of the special session

By Andrew Murr

In mid-August, the 30- day special session of the Texas Legislature concluded. The special session was called by Governor Abbott to address a series of his top priorities, and I am pleased to report that we passed legislation that will impact thirteen of those priorities. Here is a brief run-down of the new state laws passed during this special session:

TeacHeR RetiReMent HealtH COVeRaGe

During the regular session of the legislature in the spring, we added $350 million in the budget to increase the contribution rate and address the shortfall in TRS-Care, the health care program for retired teachers. In this special session, we added another $212 million to further buy down premiums and assist those under TRS-Care in taking care of adult dependents with special needs. I was a co-author of this legislation and believe it is critical that we live up to the promises we have made to our retired teachers.

 

Tue
22
Aug
Edgar's picture

Mission creep can hurt small businesses

By JAMES LEAVELLE

Mission Creep. Merriam-Webster defines mission creep as “the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.” Wikipedia says it “is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.” And, Urban Dictionary “mission creep happens when extra and often unnecessary details that [sic] are added to a project usually causing the project to spiral out of control.”

Mission creep happens in business when the business is successful in what it originally started out do or be, but became distracted by other opportunities or obstacles. What would be an example of mission creep? Let’s look at a restaurant supply company.

Tue
22
Aug
Edgar's picture

A victory for the locals, at least for a while

By ROSS RAMSEY

The latest battle in the state’s war on local government ended with victory for the little guys.

They won’t face state-ordered spending limits. They won’t face automatic elections when they raise property taxes faster than the Legislature wants them to.

They won’t be subject to most of the ideas on Gov. Greg Abbott’s list of 20 things he had hoped the Legislature would put into law during the special session that ended last week. He went 9 for 20 — a pretty good average, considering, but far short of what he wanted.

But this war isn't over.

The session — the list — was political enough, but where the governor has played up the policy patina of statewide law over “a patchwork of confusing local laws,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick went right to the politics in an interview earlier this month with the Fox Business Network.

Tue
15
Aug
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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
Edgar's picture

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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