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January 16, 2013     Hays Free Press
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+ THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "We're ready to win like Permian is supposed to win. This is the job I've always dreamed about and it's incredible it's become a reality." - Blake Feldt, Hays High football coach, now headed to Odessa Permian + Hays Free Press Janua~ 16,2013 Page3A + BY MARK ENGEBRETSON Special to the Hays Free Press With the Texas Legislature in session, there are already hundreds of bills filed for consideration. Among them are criminal sanctions for texting while driving, a proposal to make "sexting" a misdemeanor and so many others it's hard to wrap one's mind around all the ways legislators can come up with something so they can tell constituents, "See what I did?" Of course, some will be consolidated and others will likely never see the light of day. Not all proposed laws are bad, but some have been filed with little consideration of "unintended consequences." One that crops up almost every legislative session is a bill that would allow governmental entities to post public notices on their websites. If this somehow passes muster and becomes law, folks right here at home will have to look at each and every state government website to find out if there is anything that affects us. Freshman Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Hurst, filed that bill that would give governmental bodies the option of posting their public notices on their own government-controlled websites instead of printing them in newspapers. Anyone who has visited Texas government websites -Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the Texas Railroad Commission to name two - understands how difficult it is to navigate these sites. Links are often buried among dozens of such, many with titles unrelated to anything for which a person might seek. On the other hand, links that could have the information in fact do not. Search engines are nearly impossible to use because every time a particular searched word is found, it pops up in the results. Sometimes there are pages and pages and pages of results. The bottom line is, there is no standardized website design. Each entity has been allowed to design its own to address whatever that body does with no thought to standardization. Most folks don't have the time or patience to sort through these websites looking for information. Governmental bodies claim it will save money, but a Texas Press Association-led survey found that the average cost to governmental entities was less than 1 percent of budgets. People who use computers forget there are literally thousands of folks who don't. For whatever reason - lack of skills, lack of service, lack of money to purchase a computer or too little disposable income to pay for Intemet service - a lot of people don't have Internet access. It's a bad idea and TPA- including the Lake Country Sun - continues to fight for the right of the public to know what these agencies are doing that will affect our daily lives, property, children and tax dollars. Call legislators, let them know- it's a bad idea, forget it. Don't know who the legislators are? They're listed on the Interne/. Mark Engebretson is the editor at the Lake County Sun in Graford, Texas c..ANC, I EcA E A c'ELEI RITY' WHo k UI A oN To WAs AcI AT" ANI> A LIAR: il V'll~he 83rd session of the Texas Leg- ]islature was called to order in the JL House and Senate on Jan. 8. State Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Anto- nio, was elected speaker of the House, setting in motion his third consecutive term as leader of the chamber and his fifth two-year term as a state representa- tive. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simon- ton, nominated Straus, and was followed with seconding speeches given by Reps. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs; Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville; Patricia Hatless, R-Spring; Senfronia Thompson, D- Houston, and John Otto, R-Dayton. After the vote, Straus was admin- istered the oath of office by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, and then he spoke. Straus ac- knowledged the change in composition of the body, calling it "the largest class of new members in 40 years." Forty-three of the 150 members of the House are freshmen, while 96 are Republicans and 54 are Democrats. "Texas does not face a fiscal cliff, but we do face a demographic cliff," Straus said. "Our rapid growth requires a stead- fast commitment to the core responsi- bilities of government, such as a quality education, a reliable water supply, a healthy transportation system, and an honest state budget." About education, Straus said, "Our priorities should begin where our future does: in public educa- tion. More than five million children are enrolled in our public schools, which is more than the total population of 29 states. More than three million of them are deemed economically disadvan- taged, and almost one million of them speak limited English. The education of all our students will determine whether Texas is a land of prosperity or lost op- portunities." Last session, the Legislature cut more than $5 billion from the education budget. Meanwhile, in the East Wing of the Capitol, the Senate, presided over by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, convened. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, was elected president pro tempore, cho- sen by her peers to step in and preside whenever the lieutenant governor is away. She served Texas as a House mem- ber from 1990 to 1999 and has been a member of the Senate since 1999. Gov. Rick Perry addressed the body; focusing his comments on fiscal conser- vatism with a reminder that the Legis- lature pulled the state out of a multi- billion-dollar deficit last session. "We chose the responsible path, the fiscally conservative path, and that path has led us here today," Perry said. "We sat down, separated our wants from our needs, prioritized, and tightened our belts, wherever necessary, and wher- ever possible. Far from the catastrophe many predicted for us at the time, that approach helped our economy improve more quickly, and more profoundly, than many had expected." Then Perry cautioned the Senate not to look at the state's new, healthier, rev- enue estimate and be tempted to spend freely. COMBS ESTIMATES REVENUE Here's what Gov. Perry was cautioning about, and what lawmakers are looking to as the potential fix for a lot of prob- lems. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Jan. 7 released the state's biennial rev- enue estimate, projecting $101.4 billion available for general-purpose spending during the state's 2014-15 fiscal bien- nium. "Texas experienced a very strong re- bound from a severe recession," Combs said in prepared remarks. "The state's robust economic recovery led to better-than-expected revenue collections in major taxes such as the sales tax, oil and natural gas production taxes and motor vehicle sales taxes. The outlook for both the economy and state revenue is for continuing expansion as the fast-growth of the economic recov- ery gives way to moderate, sustained growth." Combs said about $3.6 billion would be set aside for future transfers to the $8 billion Rainy Day Fund. The Texas economy, in inflation- adjusted terms, is projected to increase by 3.4 percent in fiscal 2013, another 3.4 percent in fiscal 2014 and 3.9 percent in fiscal 2015. The state's unemployment rate, which reached 8.2 percent during the recession, is expected to continue slowly dropping and average 6 percent during 2015, Combs said. BILLS ADDRESS WATER ISSUES State Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, chairman of the House Natural Resourc- es Committee, on Jan. 10 filed H.B. 4 and H.B. 11, legislation "designed to help ensure Texas will meet its future water needs," he said. To pay for what the bills propose, "I would make a one-time allo- cation of $2 billion from the state's Eco- nomic Stabilization Fund, often referred to as the Rainy Day Fund, to capitalize a new, dedicated revolving fund for use in financing water projects in the State Water Plan," Ritter said. "It is vital for the future of Texas that a dedicated source of revenue be estab- lished for funding the State Water Plan," Ritter added. "Our economy depends on it, our communities depend on it, and ultimately, our daily lives depend on it." Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. edsterling@texaspress.com There is more than one way to withdraw from something and the Republican Party seems to be rapidly doing just that intellectually - from the rest of the United States. They still want the economic help of all of the people, but do not want to be a part of a changing America. The clearest indication of Republi- can secession? The action of 67 mem- bers of the House of Representatives who voted no on funding the flood insurance program. The refunding was necessary to continue paying insurance claims from the hurricane that struck the East Coast and more specifically NewYork and New Jersey. The rationale, according to the 67, was that there was no reduction in other funding to help pay for the cost. The hypocrisy of that argument is that 37 of those representatives had requested some kind of aid for their own states or locales. Was this vote based on "anti-Yankee" sentiment or have the members with- drawn from the humaneness that has been a part of the American heritage? No matter. Their action shows clearly that they are out of the mainstream of American thought. Another example of the Republi- ;FROM i can Party not changing with America is the Party platform created at their 2012 Convention. The platform states emphatically that the Republicans are opposed to same-gender marriage. Human life begins at conception and therefore, the party is totally opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape, in- cest and danger to the mother. Again, this is contrary to what most Ameri- cans believe. There are also the strong statements in the platform on defense spending. While the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined, the Republican platform calls for more. While they are willing to cut funding for such humanitarian efforts as unem- ployment, Medicaid and mental health, they want to increase the spending for warfare. Americans in general agree that we need a strong defense, but there is also general agreement that the defense budget has become too burdensome for our economy. Most Americans question why the U.S. must protect countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Yet, Republi- cans seem to think that only with more ships and planes, new weapons and ground forces stationed in far away countries can America be safe. Anyone who questions this premise is consid- ered weak on defense and to some, even anti-American. Perhaps the best indication that the , . P Repubhcan Party and its members are seceding from America is that there is no room for minorities, major roles for women or even disagreement. In the last Presidential Republican Primary, the further to the right ideologically a candidate moved, the closer he was able to succeed in the primary. If the Republican Party continues to be " dominated by the far-right, it will with- draw from America and join past politi- cal parties which didn't change with the times. The Republican Party looks too much to the past and not to the future. They are trying to live in an America that never was - except in some figment of a few people's imagination. ldlinden@satx.rr.com COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE You can't blame Feldt for leaving to Permian. There are about 5jobs in the state of Texas that no coach should ever pass up with Mojo being one of them. The next coach should be asked, what are the intentions of being here. They should be asked... Where do you see yourself in 3 years? How committed and invested will you be with Hays ISD and the community? Let's learn from this unfortunate exit, and find someone that will stick around and lead us to STATE/ - Rebel Fan on "Blake Feldt accepts Odessa Permian head football coaching job" What a great_and very true article/Thank you For this/ - Rachel on "Fitness for duty. Are Kyle police officers stressed?" OMG// I'm glad some council members did eventually repay the city the unexpended funds given to them for travel, albeit only after having the matter come to light in this newspa- you. I have to say that David Wilson did the honorable thing from the beginning and I also must say that I appreciate the may- or's deference to the tax payers in returning all the funds. - Aly M on "Kyle seeks travel expense monies ..." MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Co-publishers Bob Barton Cyndy SIovak-Barton NEWSROOM Editor Veronica Gordon veronica@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 Halle 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.haysfrsepress.com 113 W. Center Street Kyle, Texas 78640 +