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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 73,086

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

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 .

Navarro College in Corsicana Closed Thursday (Bomb Threat)

Navarro College in Corsicana posted a notice on its website stating the campus closed early Wednesday and will remain closed on Thursday due to a possible bomb threat.

The notice below was posted on the college's website:


The Corsicana campus will be closed effective 5:30 p.m. today February 20th and all day Thursday February 21th due to a bomb threat. All students, faculty, and staff are asked to remain off campus until an all clear is given. Residence hall students are asked to remain in their dorms until an all clear is signaled. Meals will be served in the dining hall. Off campus classes will continue as scheduled. Please remain away from the main campus until the all clear is given.

More updates to follow.

Source: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Navarro-College-in-Corsicana-Closed--192152101.html

[font color=green]I guess that it's time for mid-terms?[/font]

Cruz defends political tactics since starting in Senate

DALLAS — Texas' new Republican U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz, visited Dallas Wednesday as part of his first multi-city tour since taking office and defended his recent questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.

Speaking at a West Dallas tool shop, Cruz said he won't change how he's pressing his divisive personal stamp on U.S. Senate politics.

"My approach in Washington has been very simple. It was exactly the same approach as the approach I took for two years on the campaign," Cruz said. "I do not think I would be doing my job representing 26 million Texans if I didn't go to Washington and ask the hard questions."

But some Senate Democrats say he went over the line of civility when he questioned — without evidence — where Hagel got money for speaking.

More including video interview at http://www.wfaa.com/news/politics/Cruz-defends-tactics-since-starting-in-senate-says--192138871.html .

The Tea Party Doesn't Want You to Show Up

From Progress Texas

Rick Perry and the Tea Party run Texas Legislature are back in session, and that means it is time for progressives from across the state to come together, make some noise, and get the attention of our state leaders.

Over the next several weeks, many fantastic groups and coalitions will be organizing events, rallies, marches, and lobby days at the state Capitol. These important events provide an opportunity to show the strength of our community and promote progressive public policy ideas for our state.

Below we have highlighted four great upcoming events. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means - if you are interested about other rallies and lobby day opportunities on issues you don't see below, e-mail us at info@progresstexas.org and we will help you find an opportunity for advocacy that works for you. We hope to see you at some of these events!

Texans Demand Immigration Reform - Friday, February 22nd

What: Texans are once against leading the way on immigration reform. As the debate heats up nationwide, Texas communities are taking their demands to the streets.

Who: The Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) is a multi-sector statewide network dedicated to building support for comprehensive immigration reform. RITA’s goal is to present a common, pro-reform Texas voice and educate Texas elected officials about the need to fix America’s broken immigration system with fair, humane and sensible policies that foster America’s strength, security and prosperity.

When: Friday, February 22nd. Events start at 11:00 AM.

Where: Meet at Republic Square Park at 4th and Guadalupe for a march to the Capitol.

Click here for more information, directions, and a detailed schedule. http://reformimmigrationfortexas.org/1/2013/texans-to-march-in-austin-for-immigration-reform/

Save Texas Schools - Saturday, February 23rd

What: Public education in Texas is under threat like never before. Continuing budget cuts, private school vouchers and a broken testing system all threaten our children's future. Stand up with thousands of others from across the state and demand that outstanding public education be a top priority for Texas.

Who: Save Texas Schools is a nonpartisan statewide volunteer coalition of parents, students, educators, business leaders, concerned citizens, community groups and faith organizations.

When: Saturday, February 23rd. Events start at 10:45 AM.

Where: A march down Congress Avenue followed by a rally at the Texas Capitol.

Click here for more information, directions, and a detailed schedule. http://savetxschools.org/

Texas Medicaid Matters - Tuesday, March 5th

What: In the next few months, the Texas legislature will make decisions about health care for millions of Texas kids and families. This includes whether Texas will restore funding from the health care budget in 2011, and whether our state will opt for a Medicaid solution to cover an estimated 1.4 million uninsured, low-income Texans under health reform. Families across Texas need your energy, your voice, and your passion. Join the rally and call on the Texas Legislature and our state leaders to:

Protect Medicaid for children and other vulnerable Texans.
Extend Medicaid to low-income adults who qualify for it under the Affordable Care Act.

Who: Texas Well and Healthy is a grassroots, statewide campaign to ensure Texans have access to health coverage they need and have access to the benifits of a fully implemented Affordable Care Act.

When: Tuesday, March 5th. Events start at 10:45 AM.

Where: A march down Congress Avenue followed by a rally at the Texas Capitol.

Click here for more information, directions, and a detailed schedule. http://texaswellandhealthy.org/march-5/

Our Future, Our Texas! - Wednesday, April 10th

What: Our state leaders have the opportunity to undo the disastrous 2011 cuts and to prioritize education, health care, public safety, the environment, and economic opportunity for all Texas families. Investing in Texas now is the right thing to do and can ensure the future safety, health and strength of our state.

Who: Texas Forward is a coalition of organizations promoting a balanced approach to state budget decisions. The member organizations represent a broad spectrum of interests, but all believe that meeting the needs of Texans and moving our state forward to greater prosperity and opportunity will require more than just belt-tightening and cuts in education, healthcare and other vital public services.

When: Wednesday, April 10th. Events start at 11:00 AM.

Where: A march through downtown Austin followed by a rally at the Texas Capitol.

Click here for more information, directions, and a detailed schedule. http://txforward.org/ourfutureourtexas.html

Just because you can't make it to Austin for one of these events, doesn't mean your voice can't be heard on these issues. You can always find your legislator in the Texas House and Texas Senate to call them and tell them these issues are important. You can also click below to take action now and help us spread the word:

Education: Sign this petition and tell Rick Perry and David Dewhurst that our kids can't wait until 2014 to fix our schools.

Health Care: Sign this petition and tell your Texas legislator that Texas and its residents need Medicaid expansion!

Budget: Sign this petition and tell Susan Combs and state leadership that the problem is not Medicaid, public education, or any other essential public service; the problem is the priorities of state leadership. We need a real plan to meet the needs of Texans!

Thanks for everything that you do.


Phillip Martin
Progress Texas