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January 9, 2013     Hays Free Press
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January 9, 2013
 

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Hays Free Press Janua 9,2013 THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "I think things of greater age tend to warrant greater attention. While we are a culture that is very youth-oriented, we are also a culture that reveres things that came before our own existence. When things are kind of middle-aged, that's when we get in trouble." - Ned Rifkin, University of Texas at Austin Page 3A CAPITAL /GHLIGH After passage of the merican Taxpayer Re- ief Act of 2012 by Con- gress on Jan. 1, "98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up," President Obama said. The Act, signed by the president on Jan. 2, extends unemployment benefits for two million Americans who are looking for work, makes no cuts to Social Security and Medicare and expands Medicaid benefits. But the Act postpones Congressional action on budget "seques- tration" for two months, leaving question marks over the accounting and social in- tricacies of how much to cut or tweak entitlements and how much revenue to raise. So, the short- and long-term impacts on states remain unclear. Dynamics of decisions made at the federal level add to the complexity of deliberations state lawmak- ers enter Jan. 8, when the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature convenes. Sys- temic state budget deficits in recent years have left Texas unable to avoid shortfalls. In 2011, Texas resorted to using federal "stimulus" dollars to overcome a $6 billion budget deficit. In 2012, sales tax rev- enues flowed in at healthier rates, and the state comp- troller soon will release her biennial revenue estimate, giving lawmakers some idea of how much cash they will have to meet the needs of Texas. Thirsty constituents, cattle, crops, industry are sure to be addressed this session. Widespread and chronic lack of water pose problems looking for leg- islative solutions. And yes, Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 28 extended his drought emer- gency proclamation of July 5, 2011, to a majority of Texas' 254 counties. Those multi-billion dollar cutbacks on education in the 82nd Session of the Legisla- ture will be addressed, and so will Medicaid. If Texas refuses to meet the required match to receive federal Medicaid funds by rejecting the Medicaid expansion, the Lone Star State could lose billions of federal dollars. To that, Gov. Perry stated in a newspaper editorial published in july: "We have no interest in following the federal directive to expand our Medicaid ranks by over a million (people), and we are also rejecting calls to estab- lish a so-called 'state' insur- ance exchange designed and ruled by federal guidelines, many of which have yet to be written. Neither of these is the proper role of the federal government and both repre- sent brazen intrusions into the affairs of states." Even if the Texas Legis- lature passes health care reform to cover more of its lower-income and older resi- dents, the governor wields the veto pen. It takes a two- thirds vote in each house of the Legislature to override a veto. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. edsterling@texaspress.com W!ell, Happy NewYear to all y'all! ah, I know you re s'posed to ay that at the stroke of mid- night on NewYear's Eve, but I don't talk in my sleep. There was a time in yester- year when I could stay up 'til midnight, drinking cheap champagne and being obnoxious with my noisemaker. Now, as I reluctantly hobble into my golden years, I usually spend NewYear's Eve sitting in a recliner drinking box wine, and my obnoxious noisemaker is due to a mess of refried beans. I know in Times Square it means something different, but at my age, if the ball drops, it's time to see your urologist. Now, I wouldn't mind attending some party on NewYear's Eve, but they start so dang late. Seems like most parties don't even get started until 8 p.m., and by then I'm normally in flannel pajamas, tipsy from a mixture of wine and Gas-X, begging Maw to let me back inside. If we're lucky, we manage to stay awake until 11 p.m. to watch the NewYear's Eve celebration in NewYork (I sure miss Dick Clark). Then we say, "Close enough. Happy NewYear!" to each other and turn out the lights. There's no way I can party until the cows come home, not when I'm up with the chickens every morning. Well, this year, Maw and ! decided to bring in the NewYear at our second home, so we spent a long weekend down at Port Aransas. What's a better place to celebrate than a quiet little island town full of elderly tourists and funny-talkin' snowbirds? Yep, it was nice and peaceful, and again, we were sound asleep when the clock struck 12. I didn't greet 2013 until in the wee hours of the morning when my bladder thought it was time to walk the dog. FROM THE You might think that late December might not be the best time to visit Port Aransas, and you are right if you want to get a good tan and swim in the gulf, but there are several excellent reasons to spend part of your winter on the beach. As I sit here on the balcony of our rented retreat, a pen in my right hand and a frosty beverage in my left, watching the waves roll upon a deserted beach, I have jotted down a list of pros and cons to visiting a Texas beach in the winter. Pro: The line to the ferry is extremely short. Con: There's no time to crack open a cold beer while waiting on the ferry. Pro: There're no drunk college kids playing loud music out by the pool Con: There are old, drunk men with poor hearing shouting at each other in the hot tub. Pro: There is no sweating under the clear Texas sky, hoping for a stray cloud for a little relief from the heat. Con: There is some shivering under the cloudyTexas sky, hoping for a break in the clouds to thaw out your numb toes. Pro: You don't have to worry about getting run over by some kid chasing a Frisbee. Con: You do have to watch out for some old coot with poor depth-percep- tion driving a Rascal. Pro: The gulf water is clear and clean, real nice to gaze at while drinking beer on the beach. Con: The gulf water is real clear and cold, quite uncomfortable to relieve oneself of the beer he's been drinking on the beach. I can't think of any more cons of being at the beach in the winter, but there are several other pros that I'd like to share: Even with a touch of gray in my hair and a little paunch, I'm still the youngest and fittest guy sitting by the pool. Being in a South Texas beach town in the winter allows me to practice speaking Yankee. With the shorter winter days, I don't feel so embarrassed about going to restau- rants for the Early Bird Specials. The beach is very clean and mostly deserted, so we can take long walks without dodg- ing seaweed, jellyfish and unmanned boogie boards washing up on shore. And, finally, one good thing about relax- ing on the beach in the winter is the cooler weather means drinking less cold beer. Naw, I'm just joking about that one. If any of y'all want to try spending next NewYear's Eve on the beach of Port Aransas with me and Maw, feel free to wander over to our beach chairs and join in our festivities. Just remember to bring your own beer, ignore my obnoxious noisemaker, and the party ends prompt- ly at 7:30 p.m. Happy NewYear, y'allI Clint Younts is back in Hays County after his relaxing beach vacation. He still walks with bowed legs, but that's not from the sand. Rather, that's from years chasing cattle at the Crow's Nest. rockytop78640@yahoo.com From Associated Press: "The (Newtown) tragedy prompted calls for greater gun controls. But the NRA is resisting those efforts, ~irgu- ing instead that schools should have armed guards for protection." That intriguing parsing from the AP is most telling. The National Rifle Association is a separate branch of our government, a statutory check on the elected/appointed branches. We have an executive branch, a legis- lative branch and a judicial branch. But whatever they do must be cleared by the U.S. Chamber of Carnage. Understand and accept the fact that the gun lobby's clout is a very Ameri- can condition. Understand, also, that its leverage has little to do with self- protection, sport, or lofty claims about holding oppressive government at bay at gunpoint. It's about lucre. Rhymes with Luger. It's about sweet profit, which itself is owed to the most basic capitalist impulse: to possess -- to own, to have, to hold, to lock, to load, to project one's self through one's household appli- ance, be it one's toaster, one's waffle iron, or one's AR-15. It's about America's competitive spirit, the age-old quest to be the first Glock on the block. No other human reaction could ex- plain the fact that so many Bushmaster rifles got sold days after the weapon killed so many grade schoolers so ef- ficiently. The purchasers will rationalize each purchase in the standard terms (sport, personal protection, and, of course, "gummint comin'"). But understand, this was really about one reason: pos- session. Gotta have it. Keeping up with the Joneses' arsenal. Very American. All those Americans bought all those assault weapons for the very reason we Americans have done lots of things in our history, like massacre the Sioux and Iroquois, and roll tanks into Iraq: Because we could. Nothing else explains shelling out $700-$900 for a weapon whose actual sporting/self-protecting/stopping-the- government-in-the-driveway functions are so limited. It's true that one can have a whale of a time pummeling a black firing-range silhouette with 30 continuous bursts, and 30 more. But $900 for the privilege? The fact that these weapons, whose only real utility is military-style assaults, could fly offthe shelves at such a price tells us something: Those who would possess such things could and would pay a much higher price. Short of keep- ing them offthe shelves, as Congress would do if the NRA weren't part of our checks and balances, we should take these gun buyers up on their desires and see how much they would pay. Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, recently implemented a $25 tax on each firearm sold in the county. Critics say the tax simply will drive gun sales out of the county. And we wouldn't want that. A sale is a sale, and all commerce is good. The Medellin Cartel agrees. Maybe it's wrong to drive up the price of Granny's Beretta by $25 when she must choose between self protec- tion and this week's bottle of gin. So, as a nation let's refine Chicago's idea to see if something good can come of it. Assess a $200 federal tax on future pur- chases of each of the weapons prohib- ited by the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004. Let's face it; the ban is unlikely to come again based on NRA'S expressed constitutional power of veto. So instead, we say that based on a background check you are welcome to these shiny metallic killing curiosities, but the price includes a whopping tax that contributes to a fund to help pay for what happens when firearms are used for non-sporting, non-self-pro- tection purposes. Or, use those dollars to help balance the federal budget. Lawmakers could do that, if they cleared it with the NRA, of course. It was a knee-slapper to hear the NRA float its "armed guards" idea. Very funny-- when teachers are laid off and school districts are at the mercy of "less gummint" budget writers. However, if the gun lobby will con- sent to a $200 tax on the sale of each assault-style weapon that shouldn't be sold to civilians anyway, maybe we could afford even the NRA's foolish no- tion about keeping children safe. Longtime Texas newspaperman ]ohn Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com SUPPORTING HOPKINS We have another Special Called Elec- tion in Buda, Jan. 26, 2013, to fill Place 2, Buda City Council seat. Let's elect Wiley Hopkins. Wiley has served well on the Zoning Board of Ad- justments. He is retired, a city taxpayer with a fine education and background. He has the time, desire and knowledge to serve all the citizens of Buda. In my opinion, it is past time for Cathy Chilcote to "turn in the towel" to new blood. Cathy has not been a Buda city taxpayer while serving although, this is not a requirement, I believe anyone in public office helping decide how to spend tax dollars should pay those taxes. I know absolutely nothing about Amy Proctor or know anyone who knows her. Help me elect Wiley Hopkins to Place 2, Buda City Council, Jan. 26, 2013. Hopefully we can avoid another runoff election, which is costly, and elect a good man. Tommy Poer Buda (Note: In standing with our policy of not printing letters regarding an election the edition before an election, the last date for letters to the editor in regards to the Jan. 26 Buda city council election will be the Jan. 9 edition of the Hays Free Press.) DON'T ALWAYS LOOK TO THE WEB Concerning Jason Alderman's, guest column, "Resolve to be secure in your finances," on December 19, he refers readers to books, online articles and sample forms if readers want to draft wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills. He adds, "You should probably review your documents with a financial advisor or attorney to avoid potential legal problems." I and many other attorneys make sub- stantial money dealing with survivors of those who drafted their own wills, whether from a stationery store firm, online legal website, book, or modify- ing a friend's will to try to make it match their circumstances. Most attorneys believe everyone should have a will, and I set my fees so a customized prop- erly drawn will is affordable for most families. Financial advisors who are not attorneys do not have the specialized training to draft wills, and generally do not know what to look for in reviewing a self-prepared document of this nature. Texas law provides a streamlined probate process, but only if the will is drawn to take advantage of.these procedures. The online legal websites I have seen do not provide documents which do so. It is much more costly to probate an improperly drafted will than it does to have an attorney prepare it correctly in the first place, and insure that it is executed in accordance with Texas law. As we used to hear on TV,, "You can pay me now or payme later." Drafting your own will is not a place to cut comers and try to save money. It will only end up costing more in the future. Leaving a financial mess for surviving grieving family members is not the lov- ing thing to do. Brenda K. Smith San Marcos COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE Thank you for the great article about a wonderful lady. -Mike Fulton on "Adell Hurst - Face of Hospice" Agreed she is shinning example of what decent caring humans are, she is a class act. -John Atkins on "Adell Hurst - Face of Hospice" Adell Hurst is an amazing woman, we all have been blessed having her in our fives. This was a wonderful article on her, thank you! -Jane Passno on "Adell Hurst - Face of Hospice" What an awesome opportunity, to coach the mighty MOJO. You've done a Great Job at Hay's and everyone knows you can do a Great job at Permian. Hate to see you go but wish you the best of Luck. -BigLoboDad on "Is Feldt heading to Odessa?" MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Co-publishe~ Bob Barton Cyndy Slovak-Barton NEWSROOM Editor Veronica Gordon veronic a@haysfreepress.com Features & Education Editor Kim Hilsenbeck kim@haysfreepress.com Staff Reporter Andy Sevilla Community Columnists Sandra Grizzle Myrtle Heideman Pauline Tom Columnists Bob Barton Bartee Haile Clint Younts Will Durst John Young Proofreader Jane Kirkham OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer business@haysfreepress.com ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com Dioni Gomez ads@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION/CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com PRODUCTION Production Mgr. David White Assistant Designer Melinda Helt Distribution Gigi Hayes Pete Sizemore Contact Us: news@haysfreepress.com business@haysfreepress.com FAX: 512-268-0262 BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 www.haysfreeepress.com 113 W. Center Street Kyle, Texas 78640