It’s the first Monday after people across the state lost an hour of sleep due to Daylight Saving Time. And although most have general discontent over the situation, one small and prominent group of Texans seem to have had enough. Movement is building rapidly within the state Legislature to end the practice of Daylight Saving Time once and for all.
We have the Germans to thank for the WWI-era time theory, and depending on your daylight saving opinion; thanks may also be due to Texas lawmakers wanting to take the spring out of “springing forward.”
Under HB 150, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, proposes Texas join Hawaii and Arizona and let the sun forever set on the energy-saving practice. The bill is scheduled of a public hearing this Wednesday.
In another proposal, Rep. James White, R-Woodville, calls for a studious approach. HB 363 would create the Texas Task Force on Daylight Saving Time to “conduct a study and develop recommendations on the efficacy of the continuation of daylight saving time in this state.”
According to recent studies, most Americans consider the century old practice of moving the clock forward and back to be antiquated, and possibly even doing more harm than good.
Of course given the huge list of needs that Texans have from their state legislature, like adequate funding for infrastructure repairs, healthcare expansion to our poorest residents and education for Texas kids, the bi-annual annoyance of Daylight Saving Time wouldn’t seem to be too high on the priorities list. But apparently, this is how the Lege prefers to spend its incredibly valuable time.
It’s good that leaders in Austin have “seen the light” on this issue. Let’s hope that they do so with other, more pressing concerns.
Despite overwhelming cries from across the state, the Texas Senate has once again ignored all common-sense on Medicaid. Instead of taking critical dollars that Texans are already paying for under the ACA, Austin lawmakers would rather make threats to cut the existing program, unless the Obama Administration meets a plethora of demands. Here’s the story from Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune…
Leading Texas Republicans on Monday asked the Obama administration for greater flexibility to administer Medicaid — a move that has gotten little traction in the past — while reiterating that they would not participate in an expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act.
“Any expansion of Medicaid in Texas is simply not worth discussing,” state Sen.Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said at a press conference.
It’s worth noting that the opposition to ACA Medicaid expansion is coming solely from Republicans in the Senate. But outside of Austin, the chorus of leaders that support Medicaid Expansion is decidedly bi-partisan. None of this, however, matters to our “fair” legislature.
The letter Dan Patrick sent to Washington is nothing more than sensational demands that weren’t even granted under a Republican President. Yet still, this is the conversation that Austin wants to have. The Houston Chronicle‘s Lisa Falkenberg has more thoughts on that “conversation”…
Far from suggesting ways Texas could expand access to health care, the letter penned by Patrick and Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, suggested only ways to cut services for those currently eligible, 96 percent of whom are children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled.
The letter lamented Texas’ rising Medicaid case loads, without mentioning the state’s soaring population or the fact that children benefit most from the program.
“This trajectory is clearly unsustainable,” the letter says, and then accuses the Medicaid program of continuing to “crowd out” funding for other needs such as education, transportation and water. Last time I checked, it wasn’t poor people or the federal government proposing billions in tax cuts over the adequate funding of education, transportation and water.
In the letter, senators suggest doing away with provisions aimed at covering more babies and children and preventing their coverage from lapsing. It also proposes placing work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid, making it seem like there are a large number of layabouts leaching off a government program.
In truth, those able bodies are parents who qualify for Medicaid only because their children do. They make up about 155,000 recipients in a program serving 4 million, according to Anne Dunkelberg, a policy analyst with the nonprofit Center for Public Policy Priorities. Such coverage is temporary and the income requirements are strict. A mother with two children can earn only $4,000 a year – yes, a year – to qualify for Medicaid.
“These aren’t deadbeats. These are moms,” says state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.
As Falkenberg outlines, this letter is far from a request to the Obama Administration. It’s a ransom note. Anyone who is hopeful that the Texas legislature is looking to do the right thing by our state would be wrong. Instead, this week makes clear that Republican lawmakers wish nothing more than to endanger not only our poorest citizens, but state hospitals, and our whole healthcare system.
Ask almost any Texans living north of Greater Houston and they can tell you… 2015 has been an exceptionally rough winter for the Lone Star State. North Texas is just now thawing out from a rare March snowfall, in a year that has seen record winter events.
But long after this (hopefully) final bit of snow melts, municipal governments will still be working to deal with the storm’s aftermath. The exceptional Winter has ravaged Texas roads, leaving a staggering number of potholes and other damage to city and county infrastructures.
Fixing that damage is sure to be costly, and as things appear now, those additional costs are of no concern to state lawmakers in Austin.
Cold weather is only the latest challenge that Texas cities and counties have had to shoulder with little-if-any support from the Legislature. As Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune reports, the state’s momentous growth has left municipalities on the hook to keep up…
While state coffers are so flush with cash that Texas lawmakers might leave billions unspent this year, local governments are continuing to borrow heavily to provide services in a fast-growing state.
Between September 2013 and August 2014, local governments in Texas borrowed more than $5 billion, bringing the total local debt statewide to $205 billion, according to the Texas Bond Review Board.
State legislators have noticed — and they’re taking action.
More than a dozen bills have been filed this legislative session aimed at restricting how counties, cities and school districts can borrow money.
While some lawmakers have argued that local entities should do more to live within their means, cities, counties and school districts have countered that it’s the belt-tightening at the state level that pushes more costs further down the line.
“Cities are expected to be doing more of the state’s old jobs like building roads and reservoirs,” said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League. “It is a bit hypocritical in that regard.”
Lawmakers at the Capitol are all too quick to criticize cities for having to borrow money, while they simultaneously tout the “Texas Miracle”, hoard cash away for themselves, and demand massive property tax cuts at the expense of higher sales taxes.
The one discussion they’ve yet to have in Austin?? If any of that state surplus will be used to aid Texas cities with the massive task of actually making this state work. And sure Governor Abbott has at least said that the state’s roads and schools should be top priorities for the session. But he has yet to explain how this additional spending will be funded if the $4.5 Billion in tax cuts goes through as well.
Perhaps he wants cities to take out debt for those too.
All year we’ve heard from various Texas lawmakers about their rights the 2nd amendment… even Governor-Elect Greg Abbott himself has pledged to sign the first Open Carry Bill that comes across his desk. If enacted open-carry legislation would allow gun owners to take their lethal weapons to virtually any public venue.
But apparently what legislators seem to keep forgetting?? The state capitol is also a public venue, and these guns ain’t just for show. From the Houston Chronicle, here’s a rundown about how legislators got a big dose of reality…
AUSTIN – The Texas House on Wednesday approved new rules that will allow legislators to eject hostile members of the public from their offices and recoup the cost of installing panic buttons to summon Department of Public Safety officers following confrontations between a handful of lawmakers and pro-gun activists on the opening day of the session.
The move, which was approved 137-5 in the Republican-dominated House, has some open-carry advocates worried the bad impression left by a small number of activists could endanger their legislative agenda.
“The chances of passing what they call ‘constitutional carry’ got more remote with yesterday’s shenanigans,” said former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who supports efforts to legalize the unlicensed open carrying of handguns in Texas. “That set the stage. That’s the topic of discussion now.”
On Tuesday, roughly 15 to 20 members of the group Open Carry Tarrant County visited several lawmakers’ offices urging them to support House Bill 195, which seeks to undo Texas’ 125-year ban on carrying handguns openly. Several House members, including Democrats Poncho Nevarez of Eagle Pass and Celia Israel of Austin, said the group hassled them or staff members.
In a video posted Tuesday online by Kory Watkins, the Tarrant County group’s leader, open-carry activists can be heard calling Nevarez “a tyrant to the Constitution” and telling him he “won’t be here very long, bro.” Nevarez, who repeatedly asked the group to leave, later said he was concerned for the safety of his staff, family and constituents and complained one activist “reeked of marijuana.”
Catch the video in question right here…
Yep that’s right… even TEACONs in the Texas legislature felt threatened enough by the vigilante group from Tarrant County that they quickly wanted to protect themselves with beefed up security and panic buttons. Which begs the rest of us to ask one question…
Where is our panic button??
If a couple of gun-toting guys can spook grown adults at the Texas state capitol, why on earth are Republicans in the lege pushing for any and every person in the state to be able to take their guns wherever they choose? No where in the bill does it say that the state of Texas will pay for all 27 million of us to carry around panic buttons and a security guard. I suppose the protection of lawmakers far outweighs protecting the rest of us?
Here’s the simple answer to this conundrum. Guns have a place, but that place is not in the public arena. The best way to keep Texans safe is to have fewer deadly weapons around, not more. Even without the threat of some mysterious criminal looking to do harm, guns, by their very nature, are dangerous. Children in the United States are 17 times more likely to die from accidental gun deaths than children in any other developed nation. This is not a talking point… it is fact. Why? Because the United States has more guns in public use than other developed nations. A parent could be the most responsible person on the planet, but when they have a young child, they should know that children pick things up. They touch hot stoves and irons. And if they see a gun, there’s a huge chance they will try to play with it. No matter how many people in Open Carry Tarrant County or other groups threaten, they are still a clear minority and do not represent the views of most Texans, as evidenced by swift actions from the Texas House.
As this legislature gets rolling, let’s hope that they remember one thing about guns. If you pass an Open Carry law for Texas, you pass it for everyone. All the panic buttons in the world won’t change that. It’s time for Texans to unite for common-sense policies, and say no to a Big Government legislature that would force all of us to be less safe.
Home to an estimated 4.4 million people, there’s not too much that is small about Harris County, Texas. It is the 3rd-largest county in the United States of America, and of course is the home for most of the city of Houston.
As a rapidly-growing county, no one should be surprised that there is also a rapid need for expansion of health services. So many people may be shocked to hear that one of the country’s largest public health systems is actually laying people off this week, with more lay-offs possible in the near future. And as Kyrie O’Connor of the Houston Chronicle notes, these lay-offs have little to do with falling oil prices…
Facing an expected budget shortfall of $71.8 million, Harris Health System is in the midst of laying off about 113 employees, an agency spokesman confirmed Tuesday. A number of vacant positions where employees have already left won’t be filled, bringing the total to 261.
Harris Health, formerly known as the Harris County Hospital district, is the county’s primary public health service agency serving low-income people. It employs 8,237 workers.
Harris Health officials have blamed the deficit on several factors, chief among them the state’s decision not to opt for expanded Medicaid from the federal government. They also cite decreased payments to the agency from other federal programs. Expanded Medicaid would have offset those cuts. Harris Health says it has expanded its services in recent years in response to growing demand.
“We are this community’s safety net health system. Nobody provides healthcare to those most in need better than Harris Health,” Masi said. “We will continue to deliver high-quality health services as efficiently as possible with the resources we have available.”
The board is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider proposals to offset the $71.8 shortfall and possibly to tentatively adopt a budget. At last week’s meeting, the members discussed the possibility of approving a budget with a $11.8 million shortfall, to preserve as many of the threatened patient services as possible.
Harris Health officials state that this round of lay-offs “will not result in a cut in services”, which is hard to believe at this point. And even if that is the case, what happens when the next round of cuts come through??
These people do not have to lose their jobs at all, as legislators in Austin have it in their power to accept the Medicaid Expansion, or come up with a unique Texas solution right now. But thanks to their selfishness, real Texans are paying real consequences. As smart Republican leaders like Harris County Judge Ed Emmett already know, it is anything BUT Conservative to be letting go of health professionals in a place growing as rapidly as Harris County. It’s time to drop the political games around the ACA and do what’s best for Texas.
These may be the first round of area layoffs due to the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid, but they likely will not be the last. If you ever cared about this issue enough to write your lawmakers in Austin, now is the time to do it.
Evidence from around the country emerged in the wake of the 2014 election drubbing that change is going to have to come to the Democratic Party from both within and without. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs understood early on that if they cannot regain relevance in midterm elections, then we are all destined to ride the partisan see-saw every two years… and let gridlock reign.
Texas Leftist offers an insider’s view of Battleground Texas… What went right, what went wrong and how the organization moves forward from here. Square one?? Get to know Texas, and don’t mess with what already works.