Columns/Opinions

Tue
23
May

State budget bill moves forward with compromise

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas Senate and House budget conferees met frequently last week and on May 20 managed to reach compromise on a $218 billion state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019.

However, Senate Bill 1 must gain final approval from both the House and Senate in order for the budget to continue on to the governor’s desk. But as pressing a matter as the budget may seem, the bulk of time in weekend floor debates was used on a variety of other measures, such as property tax reform, municipal annexation, school bathroom accommodations for transgender students and religious conscience considerations for government employees.

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Tue
23
May

Warrior priest saves Texas for Spanish crown

By Bartee Haile

Spanish authorities banished Father Juan Manuel Zambrano from provincial Texas on May 22, 1814, but the combative priest stood his ground and forced his earthly adversaries to rescind the order.

Gov. Manuel de Salcedo succeeded in sending Zambrano into exile in 1807. After three long years of isolation in the Mexican interior, the penitent priest was permitted to return to his native San Antonio over the strong objections of the governor.

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Tue
16
May

Legislature grinds toward close with work still to do

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — With a mere two weeks remaining until the end of the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers have not yet finalized a state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The Legislature’s 150 House members and 31 Senate members can work around the clock, if need be. Their only absolutely required accomplishment in the 140-day-long session is to produce that budget and put it on the governor’s desk.

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Tue
16
May

LBJ faces mudslinger in 1946 campaign

By Bartee Haile

Hardy Hollers began his bid for Lyndon Johnson’s congressional seat on May 13, 1946 with these fighting words:

“He went on a few months’ sightseeing tour of the Pacific with a camera in one hand and leading his publicity agent by the other.”

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Wed
10
May

CHOICE act will punish financial fraud, bad actors

by Roger Williams 

Economists at a prominent think tank based in Washington, D.C. last week reported that a full repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act would boost the economy by one percent and generate $340 billion in federal revenue over a 10-year period.

Dodd-Frank, as it is called for short, was passed by the Democrat controlled Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010. At more than 2,000 pages, the law is the most sweeping financial regulation enacted since the Great Depression era.

It was sold to the American public as a Washington crackdown on greedy Wall Street banks that put the U.S. economy into a tailspin. Crafty messaging professionals created an advertising gimmick in the title of the law itself.

 

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Wed
10
May

House joins Senate, passes convention bill

by Ed Sterling 

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on May 4 approved Senate Joint Resolution 2, a measure calling for a convention of the states, as contemplated and enabled by Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

The state Senate on Feb. 28 originally passed SJR 2, authored by Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury. Every member of the House and Senate who signed as a co-author or co-sponsor of SJR 2 is Republican, and no Democrat voted in favor of the resolution.

Last week, after the House approved an amended version of the joint resolution, Governor Greg Abbott said: “Today marks an important step toward restraining a runaway federal government and returning power back to the states and their respective citizens as our Founders intended.”

 

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Tue
02
May

GOP majority pushes santuary city bill to pass

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — During his “State of the State” address on Jan. 31, Governor Greg Abbott declared legislation banning so-called “sanctuary cities” to be one of his top priorities and an emergency item, saying: “Elected officials don’t get to pick and choose which laws they obey.”

In 2011, when Rick Perry was governor, he made the original call for such a ban. Last week, after more than a dozen hours of spirited floor debate and parliamentary maneuvers, the Texas House approved legislation banning so-called sanctuary cities.

 

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Tue
02
May

Rookie pitches perhaps most perfect game ever

By Bartee Haile

A rookie from the Lone Star State pitched his way into the major-league record book on Apr. 30, 1922 by retiring 27 batters in a row.

The rarest achievement in baseball is a perfect game. To accomplish this incredible feat, a pitcher cannot allow a single batter to reach first base. Only 21 have done it since 1900, and one of those was a nobody from North Texas.

Charles Culbertson Robertson was born in 1897 at Dexter in the northeastern tip of Cooke County four miles from the Red River. The gifted athlete attended Austin College, where he played baseball, basketball and football while studying for the ministry.

 

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Tue
25
Apr

House passes legislation to reform school finance law

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on April 19 approved school finance legislation that would reduce the amount of local tax dollars that property-rich school districts are required to share with other school districts under the so-called “Robin Hood” process.

House Bill 21 by House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, R-Houston, passed on a vote of 134-16. It would increase per-student state funding for most school districts and charter schools and would adjust formulas used to calculate how much funding the state sends to school districts.

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Tue
25
Apr

The charmed life of a frontier lawman

By Bartee Haile

A Texan for three years and a Ranger for less than one, Jeff Milton survived his baptism of gunfire on Apr. 25, 1881 just as he would many other brushes with death in the years to come.

When the wife of Florida governor John Milton gave birth soon after secession, the pleased papa named the baby Jeff Davis in honor of the Confederate president. The elder Milton died in the closing days of the war, proud of the fact that his beloved Tallahassee along with Austin, Texas were the only southern capitals not to fall to the Yankees

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