Columns

Thu
22
Feb

Hazard mitigation funding for Harvey recovery becomes available

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to Rockport and Houston on Feb. 13 to announce the availability of new funding for hazard mitigation projects along the Gulf Coast following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

Abbott invited cities and counties to submit applications for projects and said the funding would provide an estimated $1 billion for hazard and flood mitigation projects designed to both help Texas rebuild and reduce the risk of future damage from flooding and Hurricanes.

 

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Thu
22
Feb

Charitable giving after a tragedy

After a terrible and very public tragedy such as a mass shooting, people want to help in any way possible, and that often means contributing to fundraisers to help the survivors and the families of the victims. Sadly, scammers often take advantage of these moments of vulnerability to deceive donors. In addition, there are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may or may not be directly connected to the tragedy.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. Here are BBB WGA’s tips for trusted giving:

Thu
15
Feb

Legislation passed by Congress includes hurricane relief funds

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 9 lauded Congress’ passage of budget legislation that contains nearly $90 billion in hurricane and wildfire disaster relief funding for Texas, Florida, California and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas from Aug. 25-31, resulting in disaster status for some 60 counties. The federal Office of Coastal Management has estimated the total cost of Harvey at $125 billion. Cost estimates by various other organizations have reached as high as $200 billion.

 

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Thu
15
Feb

The most enduring image

By MARC ROBERTSON

This month marked a curious anniversary in world history. We reached the point at which the Berlin Wall has been gone for as long as it existed. In other words, the barrier that stood for just over 10,000 days between East and West, the physical reminder of the Cold War that separated one half of Germany’s former capital city from the other and divided families in two, has now been destroyed for the same length of time as it ever stood.

There is a whole generation of Germans who have now grown to adulthood in a post-wall era, so to speak, reminded only of the Cold War barrier by tales from parents and grandparents, references in film, and an assortment of bits and pieces of colorful rubble on display in various galleries.

 

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Thu
08
Feb

Straus: Audit reveals need for stronger oversight at state agency

By ED STERLING

House Speaker Joe Straus on Jan. 31 said a new state audit raises questions about the management of the state Health and Human Services Commission and illustrates the need for legislative hearings.

A report released last week by the State Auditor’s Office found that HHSC allowed Superior Health Plan Inc. to report approximately $29.6 million in bonus and incentive payments paid to affiliates’ employees, even though those payments were not allowed under the state’s contract with Superior. The state agency also approved Superior’s request to report affiliate profits as costs without following the approval process contained in the state’s contract with Superior.

 

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Thu
08
Feb

Providing much-needed relief for small businesses

By WILL HURD

Most folks aren’t accountants, myself included. And if you are not a CPA or a tax code expert, the idea of major tax reform can sound perplexing. Before the New Year, our tax code was four million words long – the same length as the Old and New Testaments times five.

When previously crisscrossing the 29 counties in the 23rd District of Texas, I consistently heard that our tax code was too confusing and left the average American behind. That’s why I worked with my colleagues in 2017 to create a simpler, fairer tax code, so that hardworking folks get the tax breaks they deserve.

 

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Thu
01
Feb

This piggery

By MARC ROBERTSON

A woman wearing what appeared to be skintight pajamas that were in sore need of laundering, carrying a baby with food on its face, and looking as though she had slept on a sofa for three days in a small avalanche of popcorn, tossed her cigarette into the gutter and stepped on it with a pink plastic slip-on sandal before shuffling through the door to a local business and asking for a job application.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am confident that this was not a wise choice in clothing or general appearance when first walking into a business and making an introduction that ought at some point lead to a job interview and a wage-earning position in the building. Of course, it’s always possible that Soiled Baby-Carrying Couch Potatoes ‘R’ Us might be looking for some character actors to help its image.

Thu
01
Feb

Governors seek disaster aid funding

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott and the governors of California, Puerto Rico and Florida on Jan. 24 asked U.S. House and Senate leaders to hurry up and pass supplemental disaster funding, and to send the legislation to President Trump.

“Over the past several months, we have received numerous assurances that adequate disaster funding was imminent,” the governors wrote in a joint letter. “Its continued delay only exacerbates ongoing uncertainty in devastated areas. Simply put, the communities devastated by these storms cannot be completely put back together until the federal government makes good on its promise to our citizens. If ever there was a time and role for the federal government to urgently help its citizens rebuild communities damaged by epochal disasters, now is the time to step up and fill that role.”

Thu
25
Jan

Hurricane recovery efforts continue with much still to do

By ED STERLING

 

Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 17 extended for 30 days the state disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey, which pounded and flooded the Gulf Coast and moved deeply inland, spreading its destructive power.

 

“As long as Texas families are fighting to recover, they can rest assured that the State of Texas is fighting with them,” Abbott said. The 60 counties listed in the declaration will continue to be eligible for assistance as they recover and rebuild, the governor said.

 

Abbott, who remains in regular contact with congressional leaders and the Trump administration, said he has continued to request funds to rebuild Texas. On Jan. 19, Abbott said he shared Hurricane Harvey survivors’ aggravation over that fact that much-needed continuing federal disaster aid for Texas is bogged down in Washington politics.

 

 

Thu
25
Jan

Squeakery and Squawkery

By MARC ROBERTSON

 

One reaches the point at which the arrival of some new appliance in the home becomes an event generating excitement on a par with a new toy only a few years previously.

 

Honestly, I was never very excited about a new blender or hairdryer in the home when I was a child. They were just the sorts of things that my parents were bothered with. I wasn’t going to use them, so why should I jump with glee at their arrival? Now, if you had shown me a new electric train or a Lego kit when I was small – yes, I was small once – I would have been quite thrilled.

 

It would have been hard to transpose that sort of thrill to a blender.

 

 

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