Columns/Opinions

Wed
23
Aug

Special session impasse over property taxes

CAPITOL HIGHLIGHTS

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott gave legislators 20 must-pass items, but the lawmakers delivered only 12 bills to his desk during the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature.

Both the House and Senate gaveled to final adjournment on Aug. 15, the 29th day of the 30-day session, after deadlines left negotiators without enough time to resolve differences in Senate Bill 1, the property tax reform bill. The House adjourned first, leaving the Senate to accept its substituted version of SB 1 or let it die. The Senate adjourned and the bill died.

Wed
23
Aug

Nine presidents: policy, politics & life

EDITORIAL

Lee Hamilton shares his impressions of the nine Presidents with whom he has worked.

One reason I consider myself fortunate to have led a life in politics is that, over time, I’ve had a chance to work with nine presidents. From Lyndon Johnson through Barack Obama, I’ve talked policy, politics and, sometimes, the trivial details of daily life with them. I met JFK twice for brief conversations. I don’t know our current President, but I’ve gained valuable perspective from his predecessors.

Johnson was a deal-maker — always trying to figure out how to get your vote. He came into office with a clear vision of what he wanted to do, and on the domestic side notched accomplishments unmatched in recent decades. Yet he was brought down by the Vietnam War — a war he could neither win nor quit.

Wed
16
Aug

Abbott signs three bills, few likely in final week

Capitol Highlights

AUSTIN — Three bills reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk last week, with the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature set to expire Aug. 16 .

Abbott signed all three into law on Aug. 11:

- Senate Bill 5, increasing criminal penalties for voter fraud, by Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and sponsored in the House by Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood;

- Senate Bill 20, the “sunset bill” that extends the life of the Texas Medical Board and several other healthcare-regulating state boards, by Van Taylor, R-Plano, and sponsored in the House by Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock; and

- Senate Bill 60, relating to the funding of those revived healthcare boards, also by Taylor and sponsored by Gonzales. Two more bills headed to the governor for consideration are:

Wed
16
Aug

Middle-aged clerk turns to robbing trains

This Week In Texas History

On Aug. 23, 1892, a Gainesville newspaper confirmed the rumored death of a local politician turned train robber.

Eugene Franklin Bunch did not fit the stereotype of the late nineteenth century outlaw. He was not an illiterate saddle tramp nor a trigger-happy sociopath but the well-educated son of a Mississippi planter. So why did he chose a life of crime at the age of 43?

Soon after the Civil War, Bunch moved to Louisiana where he taught school and married a southern belle from the same social class. Sometime in the early 1870’s, the couple emigrated to Cooke County, Texas, living briefly in Dexter, a source of illegal whiskey for reservation Indians, before settling in Gainesville.

Wed
09
Aug

House passes bill to give retired teachers relief

CAPITOL HIGHLIGHTS

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, R-Lufkin; 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.

Primary authors of HB 80 include: Rep. Darby, Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville; and Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen.

Wed
09
Aug

The heart of our democracy

Editorial

The Heart of representative democracy rests in the communication between the electorate and elected officials. We should make this conversation more fruitful and effective.

Lee Hamilton

Former Congressman

Do ordinary citizens still have a voice in Washington and in their state capitals? Despite the cynicism of these times, my answer is, yes, we do... But we have to exercise it.

I don’t just mean going to a town hall meeting and yelling, or shooting off a letter or email. I mean making an appointment to sit down with your representative — in his or her office, at a cafe in the district, or wherever else you can meet — and holding a real conversation. We don’t do this often enough in our country, perhaps because most people think it’s impossible to arrange.

Wed
02
Aug
admin's picture

House, Senate not yet in back-and-forth on bills

Capitol Highlights

AUSTIN — Not a single bill had been agreed to by the state House and Senate as of July 28, exactly 10 days into the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature.

Lawmakers have a tall order served up to them by Gov. Greg Abbott in the form of 20 must-resolve matters in the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Something could be on Abbott’s desk in short order if top-priority “sunset” legislation to ensure the continuation of the Texas Medical Board and several other healthcare-related state oversight boards gains approval by both chambers. The Senate’s version is SB 20 by Van Taylor, R-Plano; the House has produced two versions: HB 1 and HB 2, both by Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock. There are enough differences in the bills to spark elongated floor debates, if lawmakers are so inclined.

Wed
02
Aug
admin's picture

Texas: With his dying breath

Texas Times

“Texas, Margaret, Texas.”

These were supposedly the last words Sam Houston spoke before he passed away in his Huntsville home on July 26, 1863 -- 154 years ago.

John Cornyn

U.S. Senator from Texas

Margaret was his wife of 23 years. Texas, of course, was the Republic he led as President, and the State he represented in the United States Senate before serving as its Governor.

Texas was his home, and it still is. He is buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas, seventy miles north of the Bayou City named in his honor, Houston.

Engraved on his tombstone are the words “The World Will Take Care of Houston’s Fame,” and it’s clear the City of Huntsville has done its part. In addition to his gravesite, those who make it to Huntsville can visit Sam Houston State University, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, and Sam Houston’s “Steamboat” home.

Wed
26
Jul
admin's picture

Finders, keepers?

Texas Tales

Finders, keepers. At least most of the time.

That simple premise brought about one of the more bizarre legal cases in Texas history and certainly the strangest court proceeding ever in lightly populated Sterling County.

In 1896, C.P. “Charlie” Kendall was in an Ennis jewelry store when he saw a diamond that caught his fancy. You’d think he had in mind buying the rock for some special gal he intended proposing to, but the person he bought it for was himself. Lacking only one-eighth of being a full carat, the stone had a yellowish hue with 58 shiny facets. One of those surfaces bore a flaw, but that could only be detected under a jeweler’s magnifying glass.

Of course, Kendall only knew the stone’s weight and price, not all the more exacting details. That would come later, under circumstances he never would have guessed.

Wed
26
Jul
admin's picture

Veggie patch

Rustic Ramblings

One never knows from whence inspiration may come. I was in the poor, dry, somewhat neglected garden yesterday, looking for squash, cucumbers, beans, black-eyed peas and tomatoes among the thriving weeds. Most edibles have given out in this heat, but the okra’s healthy as can be. Where other, more delicate plants have crawled toward the ground and dried on the vine, the okra stands tall.

We’ve been so overwhelmed with expected and unexpected repairs, replacements, jobs and chores this summer, the garden’s been somewhat neglected - an embarrassment considering the time and expense plowed into it. Pun intended.

Next year, we vow to do better, even though Murphy’s Law dictates that some other project or minor catastrophe will leech our time away from anything we so carefully plan and for which we painstakingly prepare. Often, there’s literally not enough time in the day - or in a particular season.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Columns/Opinions