Columns

Thu
02
Aug

Select panel considers approaches to mass shooting prevention

By  ED STERLING

A special interim committee of state lawmakers met July 24 at the Texas Capitol to further explore what can be done to prevent mass shootings like the one that resulted in 10 deaths and 10 injuries in May at Santa Fe High School.

Testimony before a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security centered on “red flag” laws, in which a law enforcement entity or family member could petition a judge who may then order that a potentially dangerous person temporarily be prohibited from purchasing or otherwise acquiring or possessing a firearm.

 

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Thu
26
Jul

Keeping homes cool through the summer heat

By WILL HURD 

Here in South and West Texas, we are no strangers to the summer heat. Unfortunately, as we all know, with rising temperatures comes rising costs of energy bills each month. And in this blazing heat, the air conditioning certainly is a needed ally to survive the summer.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, is critical in providing support for our families from San Antonio to El Paso. LIHEAP keeps Americans safe and healthy by helping seniors and low-income households with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter months and hot summer months. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), nearly 90 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child, elderly or disabled.

 

Thu
26
Jul

Mental health experts inform school violence and security panel

By ED STERLING 

Psychological prevention and treatment for students is the best way to head off school violence, mental health professionals told a panel of state lawmakers on July 18.

This was the third in a series of interim hearings for the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security, a panel named by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in response to the shooting at Santa Fe High School in May.

Dr. Andy Keller, president of the Meadows Foundation in Dallas, told panel members:

 

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Thu
19
Jul

Meeting constituents and leaders

By HENRY CUELLAR

This month in Washington, D.C. I met with a variety of individuals and organizations including Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Canfield, President and Chairman of Kansas City Southern Railroad Pat Ottensmeyer, and representatives from the Department of Transportation.

I also addressed issues pertaining to migrant family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border in the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations full committee markup.

 

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Thu
19
Jul

Governor welcomes establishment of Futures Command in Austin

By ED STERLING

The U.S. Army on July 12 announced its new Futures Command would be headquartered in Austin “to better partner with academia, industry and innovators in the private sector, while providing a good and affordable quality of life for Futures Command personnel.”

After the announcement, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state of Texas “is proud to partner with the U.S. Army in establishing the Futures Command to harness the cutting-edge technologies needed to build an innovative, research-based foundation for our national defense.”

 

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Thu
12
Jul

Preventing the summer slide

By WILL HURD

When I was in grade school, at least one teacher always had a sign in the classroom that said “reading is fundamental.” This is as true now as it was then. Learning how to read is a fundamental skill that can determine the course of one’s life. But you don’t have to take my word for it – the statistics speak for themselves.

According to the Children’s Literacy Foundation, students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school. As you might imagine, those at the lowest literacy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and earn lower wages than average. In addition, a staggering 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Beyond the obvious social devastation, low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion every single year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

 

Thu
12
Jul

Paxton sends letters to cities that passed bag ban ordinances

By ED STERLING

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on July 2 notified 11 Texas cities that their ordinances against plastic shopping bags had been knocked down by the Texas Supreme Court.

Paxton said he issued letters to the cities of Austin, Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Kermit, Freer and South Padre Island “to ensure awareness of the recent ruling and waste management responsibilities Texas law places on municipalities.”

 

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Thu
05
Jul

Providing certainty and stability for farmers

By WILL HURD

Did you eat today? Did you put on clothes?

If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, you have a farmer or a rancher to thank.

We often forget that the everyday goods we rely on to survive exist because of the hours of hard work put in each day by the men and women of our nation’s agriculture industry.

 

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Thu
05
Jul

US Supreme Court rules in favor of Texas redistricting maps

By ED STERLING

The United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 on June 25 to approve 10 of 11 disputed Texas House and congressional redistricting maps used in the state’s 2014 and 2016 elections.

The court ruled that only Texas House District 90 in Fort Worth was gerrymandered along racial lines and therefore must be redrawn.

 

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Thu
28
Jun

Parents, children separated at border gain widespread attention

Although border-crossing issues are largely federal matters, the Lone Star State has been a center of news reports about authorities separating children from their parents at detention centers along the Rio Grande. President Trump on June 20 ordered a cease in the forced separation of family members who are in detention, but the fate of more than 2,000 minors who were taken away from their parents remained unresolved. On June 21, a contingency of the nonpartisan United States Conference of Mayors, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, gathered at a border detention center in Tornillo, near El Paso. The mayors were not allowed to enter the facility where children reportedly were being held. “Using children in order to deter or dissuade folks from coming to our border and seeking asylum is unjust. It is wrong. It is immoral and it is un-American. We are better than that,” Adler said at the beginning of a longer, widely disseminated video statement.

 

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