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TexasTowelie's Journal
TexasTowelie's Journal
March 3, 2013

New discoveries of natural gas compete directly with alternative energy

New discoveries of natural gas compete directly with alternative energy, mostly in the realm of electricity production.

Most of the electric plants in Texas are powered with natural gas, and natural gas prices are low thanks to formations such as the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

“With the natural gas boom and especially natural gas prices, (electricity is) going to stay very, very, inexpensive to where it has been in the past,” said State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “Gas is very cheap, which is good news for electric customers, but it is probably bad news for the renewables because they have a lot of trouble being competitive.”

Sustaining wind energy at the moment are federal production tax credits, which had been set to expire in December but were extended for a year at the last minute.

More at http://www.caller.com/news/2013/mar/02/renewable-energy-lege-fdgdf-dfgdf-dfgdf-deck/ .
March 3, 2013

College Station: Developments to urbanize Northgate district

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, a post office, a shoemaker and a tailor clustered around the northern entrance to Texas A&M. The shops were separated from campus by a gate, the north gate.

As the century progressed, the conservative county went wet, and the all-male military school eventually admitted women. Alongside the university, the bustling business hub grew into an entertainment district, most famous for bars and nightlife.

The newest changes might not be as gradual.

City officials, university administrators and excited developers say the city has reached another turning point -- the genesis of an urban College Station.

More at http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_c84521c7-6457-59c3-a4b5-15a0b2ab1ef4.html .

March 3, 2013

Local officials lobby GOP leaders to rethink Medicaid expansion

In the face of opposition from prominent Texas Republicans and Gov. Rick Perry, an increasing number of local government officials are urging legislators to expand Medicaid and obtain a federal funding windfall.

Four Central Texas counties stand to gain $446.6 million in 2016, with more than half of that going to Travis County doctors, hospitals and other providers who would take care of newly covered adults, according to a study by consultant Billy Hamilton, a former deputy comptroller for Texas.

The Travis County Commissioners Court is one of the most recent groups to call for an expansion.

On Tuesday, a group of Medicaid recipients and uninsured Texans is planning to rally at the Capitol in support of expanding the program.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/local-officials-lobby-gop-leaders-to-rethink-medic/nWfgY/ .

March 3, 2013

Plan to revamp water board sparks political influence concerns

A proposal to revamp the state water board has turned a spotlight on concerns about oversight of an agency that in the coming years likely will be entrusted to handle billions of additional taxpayer dollars meant for projects to protect Texas from ruinous drought.

For decades, the Texas Water Development Board has been an obscure state agency, essentially acting as a bank that lends money, at low interest rates, to communities wishing to build new wells, repair aging sewage treatment plants and engineer new pipelines.

But under an ambitious plan to upgrade the state’s water-bearing and storage infrastructure, the board stands poised to control $2 billion in new state money.

After a scandal over the management of cancer research money controlled by a small state agency, and in the muddied game of Texas politics, governance of the board has become a political football.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/plan-to-revamp-water-board-sparks-political-influe/nWfgg/ .

March 3, 2013

Fight over abortion rights returns to Legislature

After his success in passing a 2011 law requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before an abortion, Republican Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston is once again pushing legislation to regulate the procedure — this time spelling out how doctors should dispense medications used to induce abortions.

Patrick says his proposal, Senate Bill 97, simply requires doctors to follow federal guidelines for use of the drugs, thus ensuring women’s safety. But critics say the bill is counter to best medical practices and intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship. The bill was the subject of a public hearing at the Capitol last week and is awaiting a vote in the Health and Human Services Committee.

The legislation is aimed at the drug known as Mifeprex, or RU-486, used in about 25 percent of the 77,000 Texas abortions in 2010. Drug-induced abortions are performed earlier in pregnancy than surgical methods and are not invasive, so some women prefer them.

Currently, no laws compel doctors to follow the federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines on abortion-inducing medication. That means doctors are allowed to prescribe it for “off-label” uses, as long as they meet the state’s standard of care. Many medical professionals use a method they say is safer and more effective, but Patrick and the bill’s supporters believe that practice is dangerous.

“The refusal to adhere to manufacturer guidelines is jeopardizing the safety of Texas women,” Patrick said.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/fight-over-abortion-rights-returns-to-legislature/nWfgd/ .

March 3, 2013

Country club break shows perils of messing with taxes

In 1991, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, was a first-time lawmaker when he filed a bill to strip a tax break from tony River Oaks Country Club in Houston.

One of Ellis’ biggest supporters flew to Austin to explain to him in person the folly of trying to pass such legislation.

“All hell came down on us, so I left it alone,” Ellis said. “But I always remembered that.”


Today, the River Oaks Country Club’s land is valued at $79.5 million but it’s listed on the tax rolls for $4.2 million, thanks to state law.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/country-club-break-shows-perils-of-messing-with-ta/nWfgc/ .

March 3, 2013

Lawmakers: Tax breaks need periodic review

The Texas tax code is rich with tax breaks. There are tax breaks for industries relocating to the state and for anyone with an Internet connection. Tax exemptions for groceries and bottled water. Tax holidays for back-to-school supplies. Tax exemptions for golf courses at private country clubs.

It adds up to at least $38 billion a year for the state’s major taxes and school property taxes, the comptroller estimates — hardly pocket change in a state that is expected to collect $80 billion in tax revenue in 2012-13. But no one claims to know for sure how much the state is forgoing because, by law, smaller taxes — those that raise $2.2 billion or less — are excluded from a biennial report by the state comptroller.

“We have so many exceptions to the tax code, none of us really know how many we have, what they cost, if they make sense or they don’t,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

To get a handle on all those tax breaks, Ellis, along with Dallas Republican state Sen. John Carona, has filed legislation to create a “sunset” process that would eliminate any tax break that isn’t renewed by the Legislature.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/lawmakers-tax-breaks-need-periodic-review/nWfgZ/ .

March 3, 2013

Is it time for auto dealership blue laws to hit the road?

Sean Willeford remembers going into stores on Sundays and seeing covers draped over tools, knives and other items that couldn't be bought that day.

Those covers -- and the blue laws that prevented certain purchases on Sundays -- are long gone for the most part.

But Willeford and others are frustrated by one of the few remaining restrictions -- the ban on car dealerships being open on both Saturday and Sunday.

"From a societal standpoint, it's ludicrous," said Willeford, 43, of Arlington, who was shopping for cars recently. "I can buy almost anything I want on a Sunday except for a car. It's really an inconvenience more than anything."

A state lawmaker proposed changing the law to retire the aging requirement that car dealerships keep their doors closed one day each weekend.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/03/03/4655951/is-it-time-for-auto-dealership.html#storylink=cpy

March 3, 2013

Sylvia Garcia wins Senate District 6 seat

In what was a fierce political battle, former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia won the runoff election Saturday against state Rep. Carol Alvarado for the Senate District 6 seat previously occupied by late state Sen. Mario Gallegos.

Garcia earned 53 percent of the vote, compared to Alvarado's 47 percent, according to preliminary results from the Harris County Clerk's Office, with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

"We're just so happy," Garcia said from her election celebration Saturday night. "The supporters and friends here are just besides themselves."

Predominantly Hispanic, state Senate District 6 includes Houston's East End, as well as parts of Pasadena, Galena Park and Baytown. Gallegos represented the district from 1994 until he died last October from complications related to a liver transplant.

More at http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Garcia-wins-Senate-District-6-seat-4323739.php .

March 3, 2013

Rove: GOP needs candidates that reflect diversity

GOP strategist Karl Rove says California Republicans need to "get up off of the mat" and find new ways to reach voters if they are to regain popularity in the nation's most populous state.

Rove's speech Saturday at the state party convention referred to the party's recent deep losses in the state.

He says the state GOP needs to focus on larger themes of restoring jobs and reducing government spending, and that the party must recruit candidates who reflect the diversity of the country, and in particular California.

By next year, Hispanics will overtake whites as the state's largest demographic group.

Rove says that rebuilding would be "a big task," but noted Texas as an example. Once a Democratic stronghold, Texas elected Republicans to 95 of 150 state House seats.

Source: http://www.theeagle.com/news/nation/article_326fc457-e281-5737-822a-9e3b108a3d68.html

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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: 113,551

About TexasTowelie

Retired/disabled 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!
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