Columns

Thu
04
Apr

House, Senate continue to move closer to passing budget

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

Last week, with 60 days remaining until the end of the 140-day regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature, the House and Senate vaulted closer toward finalizing a state budget.

On March 27, the House of Representatives voted 149-0 in favor of HB 1, its version of the state budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The lower chamber’s bill allocates some $251 billion to cover the two years and puts $9 billion more than the current budget into education reform, including a teacher pay increase and pension funding, and property tax reform.

 

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Thu
04
Apr

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

We need a progressive school board

Dear Editor,

Our public schools are in trouble. Unfortunately, they have been in trouble since 2011 when Texas slashed school budgets by $5.3 billion. The current legislature is considering increasing the school budget by $9 billion using the rainyday fund, you know the fund that grew due to the Eagle Ford taxes.

 

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Thu
28
Mar

Air pollution from tank fire sparks lawsuit

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

Images of a stream of billowing dark smoke drew the nation’s attention last week to a fire that engulfed 11 petrochemical storage tanks at the Intercontinental Terminals Company about 15 miles southeast of Houston in Deer Park.

On March 17, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that all state resources be made available to local and industry officials and urged residents to heed the warnings of local officials. Governmental bodies in nearby affected areas ordered residents to shelter in place because of concerns about unhealthy air quality. Deer Park Independent School District and other districts canceled classes for several days.

 

 

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Thu
28
Mar

Our thanks to you

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor,

The 2019 Pink Ladies Pearsall Pee Wee Basketball team had a great season and would like to thank all the people that make this possible for our children.

Team members include Coach Jake Maldonado, Adlyn Lucio, Dakota Rios, Jisella Maldonado, Addison Garcia, Zionna Garza, Jazzlyn Sanchez, Amariss Menchaca and Coach Jorge Sanchez.

We would like to extend a special thank you to Frio County Commissioner Ruben Maldonado for the donation of trophies.

Sincerely,

The Pink Ladies basketball team

 

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Thu
21
Mar

Supplemental funding legislation draws from ‘Rainy Day Fund’

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

Afew of the funding priorities expressed by the executive, legislative and judicial branches are not covered in Senate Bill 2, the state’s tentatively approved appropriations bill for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

So, on March 13, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB 500, $6 billion in supplemental funding to plug many holes. Some $4.3 billion of the total would be taken out of the Economic Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund. Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the legislation proposes the following allocations:

 

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Thu
21
Mar

Preserving our veterans’ stories

HURD ON THE HILL

From the shores of Tripoli, to the beaches of Normandy, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces have made countless sacrifices to ensure our freedom. Our Constitution, our democracy, all that we honor and hold sacred has been made possible through their tireless service.

The stories of their service are written with friendship, hardship, fear, bravery, failure and triumph. Most are not showered in glory or immortalized in movies, but the experiences of our veterans compose the story of America. Some of their stories risk being lost to time. I wanted to do something about it.

Thu
14
Mar

Lawmakers start rolling out high-priority legislation

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

With the filing of legislation that would give teachers an acrossthe-board pay increase, Texas lawmakers showed progress toward solving the complex issues of school finance and property tax reform.

Senate Bill 3, passed March 4 by the full Senate on a voice vote, would entitle each classroom teacher and full-time librarian to a state-financed $5,000 increase above their 2018-2019 school year salary. The bill would not stop school districts from providing meritbased raises to teachers in addition to the state’s $5,000 increase.

Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, SB 3, if approved by the House, would make the raise effective for the school year beginning in the fall. Nelson said it would cost $4 billion to give the state’s estimated 350,000 teachers the raise, and that funds to cover the pay hike will be in the state budget.

Thu
14
Mar

Bluebonnets

RANDOM RAMBLINGS

Grief is the last act of love we have to offer those we have loved. It has been nearly two months now and not a day goes by that I look outside hoping to see his truck next door.

I never realized the amount of love I had for Country until that dreaded social media post saying he had lost his life to pulmonary problems. That night I do not think I ever slept. Every thirty minutes I looked out my bedroom window to see if his truck was in his driveway.

Those days have turned into months and that driveway remains vacant. 

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Thu
07
Mar

Order stops state, local authorities from purging voter rolls

By ED STERLING

A San Antonio federal judge on Feb. 27 ordered Texas Secretary of State David Whitley not to purge the names of voters whose registrations he challenged as being potentially fraudulent. The order came in a voting rights case filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens and other plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the suit. Biery then ordered officials not to remove anyone from the current voter registration list until authorized by the court. However, Biery added that local officials may continue to determine whether someone who is not a citizen is in fact registered to vote, so long as it is done without communicating directly with any particular individual on the list. Biery’s ruling, which came after three days of hearing evidence and arguments in the case, stated:

Thu
28
Feb

Caucus names legislative priorities for public education

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Texas House Democratic Caucus on Feb. 21 announced its “Texas Kids First” education-funding package that would include all-day pre-kindergarten, teacher raises and retirement and property tax reform.

“We hope to work with our colleagues to incorporate some of these ideas into their bills,” said Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, caucus chair.

Caucus member Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, a former Austin Independent School District board president, said Texas rates 42nd in the nation in per-student funding. She said Texas public school students are funded $2,300 per year below the national average.

 

 

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