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TexasTowelie

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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 77,696

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Plano Lawmaker Authors Bill to Strip Cities of Right To Regulate Oil and Gas Drilling

State Representative Van Taylor, a real-estate investment banker from Plano, has introduced legislation that would settle, once and for all, who gets the last word on drilling under private property: That would be the Railroad Commission of Texas.

The bill, filed Tuesday, would strip from Texas municipalities the ability to regulate drilling within their borders in any meaningful way. It's the latest iteration of an idea that's cropped up in the Texas House before, at the top of an industry wishlist. As fracking pushed the natural gas boom out of the pastures and into the 'burbs, producers often found themselves running afoul of local ordinances that diluted the density with which they could drill up leased acreage. In Southlake, XTO simply moved on. In Dallas, well, it's complicated.

So, what would become of Southlake's code-mandated 1,000-foot buffers between a house and a well pad? If it has the effect of preventing someone from drilling, it gets trumped. Only rules pertaining to "visual aesthetics," "noise abatement" and "hours of operation" would be left to municipal discretion. This legislation won't help Trinity East because the city of Dallas owns the floodplain the company intends to frack.

The campaign war chest of Taylor, the bill's author, has been the primary beneficiary of Denbury Resources, an oil and gas company that lately has been tapping mature oil fields. He has received more donations from the company than any other state rep. Sworn into office in 2010, he's a relative neophyte, but there are also worse horses for an oil company to hitch its wagons to.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/plano_lawmaker_authors_bill_to.php .

Scooter Store owes $1.3 million to City of New Braunfels

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas -

One day after being raided by federal and state investigators, workers returned to The Scooter Store in New Braunfels Thursday.

As the federal government investigates possible Medicare fraud, the city of New Braunfels is trying to get the company to repay them more than $1 million in incentives tied to jobs.

Back in 2009, the Scooter Store went to city leaders seeking incentives. The company was ready to expand its headquarters and add hundreds of new jobs. The city agreed to give the company $3.4 million but they didn't get what they paid for.

"Last Friday, we did issue a demand letter for $1.3 million to be repaid by the Scooter Store," said Bob Gray, vice president of the New Braunfels Industrial Development Corporation.

More including video at http://www.ksat.com/news/Scooter-Store-owes-money-to-City-of-New-Braunfels/-/478452/19027494/-/31se5m/-/index.html .

Alert to Hyundai owners: Teenage driver says car sped out of control in 100-plus-mile ride

ROCKWALL -– A North Texas family is trying to figure out why their teenage son’s Hyundai suddenly seemed to accelerate out of control.

The car raced along Texas highways for more than an hour at speeds of 100 miles per hour, while the 16-year-old driver pleaded with 911 dispatchers for help.

“Please, just do anything,” Elez Lushaj begged dispatchers in recordings obtained by News 8.

Emergency operators are heard on the calls frantically trying to find a solution. They urge the teenager - without success - to try different ways to bring the 2011 Hyundai Elantra under control, including putting it in neutral, or turning off the ignition.

More including video at http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/dallas/Sudden-Acceleration-teenage-driver-says-car-sped-out-of-control-192386781.html .

House passes bill to cover $4.5 billion Medicaid IOU

The Texas House on Thursday cleared an emergency budget bill that will cover the $4.5 billion tab for Medicaid that lawmakers intentionally left unpaid two years ago.

House Bill 10, which will now head to the Senate, must be signed into law by early March or doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers will not get paid for serving the 3 million low-income children, elderly and disabled Texans in Medicaid.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, underscored the need to pass the bill quickly and cleanly.

“The bill is necessary to ensure that the state of Texas continues to meet its financial obligations for fiscal year 2013,” Pitts said. “Without the appropriation of this bill, our Medicaid program will run out of money next month, leaving health care providers across the state of Texas without reimbursement for the vital services they provide for our constituents.”

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/house-passes-bill-to-cover-45-billion-medicaid-iou/nWWTQ/ .

DPS reverses course on allowing shooting from helicopters

Four months after a helicopter-borne Texas Department of Public Safety trooper mistakenly shot and killed two immigrants in the back of a fleeing pickup near the Mexican border, the agency has banned shooting from helicopters in similar scenarios.

DPS Director Steve McCraw told members of the Texas House Appropriations Committee on Thursday that the move wasn’t spurred by the shooting, which is under review by the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s office and federal agencies, including the FBI.

“This is not a reflection on what happened there,” McCraw said. “I’m a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do.”

But he added, “I’m convinced now that from a helicopter platform we shouldn’t shoot unless being shot at or if someone (else) is being shot at.”

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/dps-reverses-course-on-policy-allowing-shooting-fr/nWWs7/ .

[font color=green]And in other news, Sarah Palin called to cancel her hunting trip.[/font]

Gay marriage amendment fails

Two Democrats and five Republicans united Thursday to block a bill that would have allowed a public vote on gay marriage in New Mexico.

The proposal failed 7-4 in the House Voters and Elections Committee. Democratic Reps. Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces and Debbie Rodella of Espanola joined with the committee’s five Republicans to stop the initiative.

EgolfSponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, the proposed constitutional amendment said marriage licenses could not be denied on the basis that both applicants were of the same gender. His measure also provided that no church or religious institution would have to perform a marriage ceremony that conflicted with its beliefs.

Three military veterans testified for the bill, saying they fought for their country only to be denied the right to marry the person they loved.

More at http://elpasotimes.typepad.com/newmexico/ .

Source: Boeing to propose 787 battery fix to FAA

Source: AP

WASHINGTON -- Boeing has developed a plan that it intends to propose to federal regulators to temporarily fix problems with the 787 Dreamliner's batteries that have kept the planes on the ground for more than a month, a congressional official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner is expected to present the plan to Michael Huerta, head of the Federal Aviation Administration, in a meeting on Friday, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Boeing Co. spokesman Marc Birtel said the company doesn't talk in advance about meetings with federal officials.

"Everyone is working to get to the answer as quickly as possible, and good progress is being made," Birtel said.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20130220-source-boeing-to-propose-787-battery-fix-to-faa.ece

BP civil settlement remains elusive as trial nears

Source: AP

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Justice Department and the five Gulf coast states affected by a massive oil spill nearly three years ago have indicated they would like to settle their environmental and economic claims with BP PLC ahead of a trial scheduled to start next week.

The problem is that they haven't been able to agree on the possible terms of such an agreement. Months of negotiations have failed to resolve lingering differences - not just with the London-based oil giant, but among themselves.

The Justice Department convened a meeting with Gulf Coast state officials in Washington late last week in an effort to hammer out an offer to resolve the outstanding civil claims, but an agreement wasn't reached, said a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said reaching a settlement that satisfies all states' competing interests has been difficult.

Read more: http://www.caller.com/news/2013/feb/20/bp-civil-settlement-remains-elusive-trial-nears/



More at link.

State Senator Wendy Davis Wants To Bring Federal Fair Pay Laws for Women To Texas

There was an interesting, widely under-reported battle going on in the state legislature this morning, and it hinged around consistently badass Fort Worth state Senator Wendy Davis. Back in January, Davis filed SB 248, a bill that would bring the Lilly Ledbetter Act to Texas. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into federal law in 2009, the first bill of President Obama's administration. It makes it easier for employees to file pay discrimination complaints by extending the period of time in which they can do so; it's named after a woman who unsuccessfully sued Goodyear for pay discrimination, and is meant to help address the persistent pay gap between men and women. (Interesting to note, though: the average wage gap in Texas is actually slightly smaller than in many other U.S. states. We rank 12th in the country for pay equity, with an average gap of 18 cents or so, versus the 23-cent national average.)

As former Observer-er Andrea Grimes reports at RH Reality Check, supporters gathered in Austin this morning to testify on behalf of Davis's bill in front of the Senate's Committee on Economic Development. One of them was Tiffany Bishop, a U.S. Navy veteran who came to work at a Texas call center after serving in Iraq.

When Bishop compared notes with a male coworker and learned that she earned less than him, Grimes writes, she filed a complaint. She was promptly disciplined for doing so. Her male coworker was disciplined too, simply for sharing his pay information.

Bishop told lawmakers that she was shocked to learn how little recourse she had under state law, which requires her to make a complaint "not later than the 180th day after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred." That's a tough thing to do when you don't know it's happening, and in a climate where most employees are actively or tacitly discouraged from discussing pay information with one another.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/state_sen_wendy_davis_wants_to.php .

Rice Student's National Efforts Earn Scathing Rebuttal From Head of Creationist Museum

It's easy to see that Zack Kopplin, a 19-year-old student at Rice University, has fast become one of the leading faces of the anti-creationist movement. He's appeared on numerous national interviews, sharing his opposition to publicly funding creationist academies. He has latched onto outspoken evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins's website. He has just been awarded a $10,000 prize as the Troublemaker of the Year.

But there seems no greater signal of Kopplin's efforts and efficacy -- detailed in this week's Press cover story -- than a recent anti-Kopplin post from Ken Ham, the director of Kentucky's Creation Museum.

Though the two have never spoken, Ham deemed it necessary to counter Kopplin's anti-creationist efforts by lobbing both charges and epithets toward the 19-year-old. And it's worth dissecting a bit of Ham's screed to gain a better insight into those Kopplin is fighting against.

Attempting to follow a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin tack, Ham paints Zack as one of the nation's impressionable, imprinted students:

The story continues at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/02/zack_kopplin_evolution_creationism.php .
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