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Sign the Petition: Support Constitutional Carry in Texas!

WHEREAS, The Republican Party of Texas unanimously voted to make Constitutional Carry a Legislative priority in 2015 and part of the party platform and,WHEREAS, the Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives campaigned on unmistakable promises to support the passage of conservative legislation in the Texas House, and

WHEREAS, The Texas Constitution clearly states in Article 1 Section 23. RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS. Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have the power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.,

WHEREAS, research has proven that restricting and hindering the right to bear arms only encourages criminals and their actions in violent crimes against law-abiding citizens,

WHEREAS, Demanding law abiding citizens to request permission from their government body through a permit system to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms is an unmistakable violation of that right, and,

WHEREAS, this inalienable right unmistakably gives the right to carry a handgun for self-defense, and;

THEREFORE, I am urging you as our elected State Senator and State Representative, to publicly support, and/or co-sponsor and vote for the 2015 Texas Constitutional Carry bill HB 195.

Sign the petition HERE!

By ComeandTakeItAmerica.com  

 

For Rep.-Elect Molly White, Abortion Changed Everything

 

State Rep.-elect Molly White, right, speaks on a women’s health panel at the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 20, 2014.

BELTON — Molly White keeps a few essentials in her 2009 white Cadillac Escalade:

 

  • Rubber fetuses in sizes that reflect different stages of pregnancy.

  • A folder holding more than 700 affidavits signed by women in Texas who say they’ve been hurt by abortion (hers included).

  • Brochures on what she believes are the dangers of abortion and birth control pills.

 

They’re all part of her strategy to educate as many Texans as possible on her views on reproductive health.

“We are women and we are designed to give birth, we’re designed to nurture, we’re designed to bond. It’s just nature,” White said inside her favorite coffee shop in Belton, the community she will soon represent as a first-term Texas legislator. “… And when we violate that natural way of having a child and giving birth, it’s going to affect us.”

When White takes office in January, she will immediately be one of the Texas House’s most conservative members. In the Republican primary, she upset incumbent Ralph Sheffield by some combination of knocking on thousands of doors and winning the support of conservative groups like Empower Texans. She is eager to address GOP calling cards like border security and lowering or abolishing property taxes.

But to a degree unique among her new colleagues, ending abortion is White’s personal and political passion. She had two abortions in her 20s and says the physical and mental suffering she endured afterward, including cervical damage, a hysterectomy, drug and alcohol abuseand suicidal thoughts, convinced her that the procedure is unsafe and shouldn’t be legal.

White takes this opposition a step further than many abortion foes; a nonprofit she founded counsels against both birth control and sex education that promotes it.

These are widely contested views that most doctors and researchers say are not rooted in sound science. The vehement response White’s position draws was on display at a Texas Tribune Festival panel in September, when Austin state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, a longtime Democratic legislator on stage with her future colleague, became so incensed by White’s claims that she spoke of her own abortion for the first time — calling it a routine medical procedure.

Conservative strategists say White’s political debut presents an interesting opportunity to advance even more anti-abortion legislation in Texas. She arrives in the Legislature as Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, whose failed gubernatorial bid followed her high-profile filibuster of a bill further restricting abortion in Texas, departs. Both women have had personal experiences with the procedure.

“I really do believe that the left or the liberal side of the aisle really doesn’t know what to do with a representative like Molly White,” said Luke Macias, a Republican political consultant who worked on White’s campaign. “Their ‘war on women’ mantra really falls on deaf ears when it comes to Rep. White.”

Democrats, meanwhile, say they worry that White’s entrance into the Legislature could distract lawmakers from more pressing issues and advance policies that aren’t based in fact.

“We need to have evidence-based public policy,” said state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, adding that when it comes to health care, policy must come “from the medical community and not anecdotes.”

The political reality is that White is unlikely to move the needle much in a lower chamber that appears almost certain to remain in the control of House Speaker Joe Straus, an establishment Republican who wants to keep lawmakers focused on the budget, education and infrastructure, not red meat social issues.

And White says she doesn’t have any preconceived notion of the role she will play in abortion legislation in the upcoming session.

She thinks the anti-abortion legislation of 2013 — which banned abortion in Texas after 20 weeks, required women to have the procedure at facilities that meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and heightened requirements around hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions — was largely effective. (The constitutionality of the admitting privileges rule has been upheld by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ambulatory surgical center provision, which closed all but a handful of Texas abortion clinics, was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court while it is being reviewed by the appellate court.)

One additional target in 2015, White said, could be what she calls “loopholes” in judicial bypass — the cases in which minors whose parents don’t give consent for an abortion may seek permission from a judge instead.

“She’s quite articulate in….read more here.

Gay couples ask federal judge to allow gay marriage in Texas

Photo:  BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

AUSTIN — Two same-sex couples have asked a federal judge in San Antonio to allow gay marriages to begin taking place immediately in Texas.

On Monday, couples Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano and Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon asked U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia to lift a stay he imposed in February on his own ruling that Texas’ gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

In February, Garcia said the state’s prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. The district judge held his ruling in abeyance so higher courts could decide similar cases from other states that were further along.

“The court should immediately lift the stay because the Supreme Court’s actions following entry of the stay no longer support its continuance,” Neel Lane, the two couples’ lawyer, wrote in his motion filed Monday.

Lane pointed out that last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear various states’ appeals that it rescue their gay-marriage bans from adverse lower court rulings. The Supreme Court’s refusal put into effect edicts overturning prohibitions on same-sex marriage in states in the three appeals court circuits. Since then, the Supreme Court lifted stays on similar lower court rulings in Kansas and South Carolina, Lane noted.

While Lane conceded that the justices’ refusals to hear appeals “do not have legal significance,” he argued that “the constitutional environment” in which Garcia acted last winter has “now changed radically and permanently. Fully two-thirds of citizens of the United States now have an enforceable federal constitutional right to marry the person of their choice, irrespective of gender.”

Texas’ ban continues to harm gay couples, forcing them to incur extra legal expenses to adopt children and transfer powers over medical decisions, Lane said. Also, in many cases, gays and lesbians cannot confer survivor benefits on their partners, he said.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed Garcia’s ruling. Abbott, who takes office as….more here.

 
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Austin Bureau

EPA rejects Texas plan to cut haze-causing pollution from coal plants

Photo: Dallas Morning News

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday rejected parts of a key Texas clean-air plan, setting up a conflict that has deep implications both for the state’s electricity mix and for air quality across much of the country.

The partial rejection of Texas’ regional haze plan, a federally required strategy for reducing pollution that causes hazy skies, would require 14 coal-burning generating units at seven Texas power plants to install or improve controls that limit emissions of sulfur dioxide. An eighth plant, with one unit, could comply without new equipment.

The plants are mostly upwind of urban North Texas, meaning their emissions often drift to the metropolitan area and further on to Oklahoma. They include Luminant’s Big Brown plant south of Dallas and the company’s Monticello and Martin Lake plants, northeast and east of Dallas.

There were conflicting predictions about what the federal action would mean for Texas. EPA officials said a proposed order from the agency would help make skies clearer and people healthier by eliminating about 230,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, or SO2, each year.

The EPA said its plan would mean faster progress and broader action to curb SO2 than Texas had proposed. The state’s mid- and long-term goals were too weak to meet legal requirements, the EPA said.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which prepared the state plan, disagreed, saying in a statement that the plan complied with federal law. The commission suggested that the EPA’s demand for quicker action would harm the economy.

The EPA requirements would cost “more than $2 billion, for a negligible increase in visibility” in national parks and wilderness areas, the TCEQ statement said. “These costs would invariably be passed on to consumers, either directly or indirectly,” it said, “and could have consequential impacts on the state’s power grid.”

The federal Clean Air Act requires states to submit plans for limiting the types of pollution, mostly from power plants, that cause hazy skies. The same emissions can harm human health.

Texas’ regional haze plan does not do enough to curb pollution to meet minimum legal requirements, the EPA said. By law, the federal agency must act on its own authority to regulate pollution sources when a state has failed to do so, the EPA said.

The EPA also found that Texas had not done enough to limit the effect of its pollution on downwind states, Oklahoma in particular. Texas power plants were adding about twice as much to the haze at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge as Oklahoma’s plants, the agency said.

The EPA is proposing a federal plan in place of the disapproved parts of Texas’ plan. Typically, a federal plan stays in effect only until federal and state officials resolve differences and a state plan can take its place.

The EPA will take public comments on its proposals for 60 days, with a final decision expected next year.

The agency’s ruling came two days before a Wednesday deadline for the agency to approve or reject Texas’ plan.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has sued the EPA frequently over clean-air rules, takes office as governor in January.

Luminant, the generating arm of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, might face the biggest bill for complying with the EPA plan. Eight of the 15 affected generating units are at Luminant plants. Energy Future Holdings, meanwhile, is in bankruptcy.

The EPA estimated that the ordered work on each Luminant unit could involve capital expenses of $17 million to $259 million, depending on the options chosen. Annual operating costs would be additional.

Luminant offered no immediate reaction. “Since this proposed rule that just came out is more than 260 pages and contains a lot of technical data, we are reviewing and analyzing the EPA’s proposed rule and the effect it would have on our plants,” spokesman Brad Watson said in an email.

Coal plants already face economic and environmental pressures from cheap natural gas and from rules on emissions of mercury, carbon dioxide and other pollution. In addition, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy must propose revisions to the nation’s standard on urban ozone by Dec. 1.

Coal plants are a major source of ozone-causing emissions, although vehicles are the biggest source in urban North Texas.

Although the required regional haze plans also have to reduce pollution linked to a wide range of health and environmental problems, they specifically are meant to protect the nation’s wildest places, labeled Class 1 areas.

They are 156 national parks and wilderness areas that Congress designated for protection from air pollution that obscures horizons — key factors in harming tourism and outdoor experiences.

Texas has two,……..more here.

 
rloftis@dallasnews.com

Environmental Writer

Mexican consulate warns of scams as executive order plays out

Photo: Michael Stravato for The New York Times

McAllen – After the sweep of his pen last week, President Barack Obama expanded avenues for legal immigration status for potentially 4 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, causing a ripple effect across the Rio Grande Valley.

The Mexican consulate warned residents Monday to be celebratory about the reforms but aware about a new market of fraud and scams playing on emotions about the hope for a legal visa.

“We welcome these measures; they have the potential to affect a lot of people and bring them out of the shadows,” said Erasmo Roberto Martínez Martínez, the Mexican consul in McAllen.

 But he cautioned that there is still a lot of fine print that hasn’t been released like the fee structure and even the application for immigrants interested in taking advantage of the program. Scam artists can take advantage of this information gap, he said.

Notario publicos, or immigration attorneys with specialized training, are common in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. But to become a public notary in the United States requires much less certification, and they generally only witness the authorization of documents. Being a public notary also doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a law degree or trained to provide advice or counseling about immigration law.

Since 2002, more than 60 public notaries have been shut down for providing unqualified legal advice across Texas by the Attorney General’s Office, including two in McAllen last year.

The network of 50 Mexican consulates based in the United States has a telephone line dedicated to questions called the Center for Information and Assistance for Mexicans (CIAM), which can be reached daily at (855) 463-6395. They also launched a free smartphone app, “MiConsulmex.”

For example……..more here.

Healthcare rollout smoother in 2nd year

Photo: Yvette Vela

Monday’s healthcare enrollment fair had just begun at the Brownsville Events Center on Paredes Line Road, but already there were people sitting and speaking with counselors about getting coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Counselors sat down with a man in a Dallas Cowboys jersey while at another table children scribbled away in coloring books while mom talked over her family’s health insurance options.

The calm atmosphere differed starkly from scenes last year when problems with Healthcare.gov, the federal government’s online health insurance marketplace, threw a wrench into already complicated machinery.

The website’s improved functionality this year has relieved a lot of tension around the program, said Julian Castro, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro said those who don’t have insurance deserve to have every opportunity to enroll.

Castro spoke…..read more.

 

By TY JOHNSON | STAFF WRITER

CBP: San Antonio couple tried to smuggle heroin by concealing it in their private parts

(Photo: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)
A San Antonio couple is facing drug charges after authorities said they attempted to enter the country with heroin concealed in their private parts, according to a criminal complaint filed in a Laredo federal court.

The man and woman were charged with importing a controlled substance, conspiring to possess with…..more here.
By César G. Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times

ECISD Teachers “Worried and Concerned” About Reconstitution Process

Photo: ECISD website 

ODESSA – Hundreds of Ector County ISD teachers are being forced to re-apply for their jobs after showing low test scores two years in a row. Now, the president of the Ector County Texas State Teachers Association, Shari Story says the stress is just too much for these teachers.

Story says the stress is so much that some of these teacher have even prescribed to anti-depressants. The school district’s superintendent says he understands the stress and will do everything to make the teachers feel comfortable.

“We don’t want to get rid of any of the teachers but we want to give them an opportunity to improve what they are doing, so that the kids can benefit from the instruction that they are getting,” said ECISD Superintendent Tom Crowe.

In all, seven ECISD schools are deemed improvement required resulting in reconstitution meaning every teacher has to re-apply for a job they already have.

“I understand the stress, I absolutely do,” said Crowe.

More than 300 teachers are currently interviewing to keep their jobs. “This was identified as a widely felt, and deeply felt issue amongst our members,” said Story.

Story says ……..more here.

by Lauren Lanmon

ADL blasts pastor John Hagee for calling Obama anti-Semitic

The Rev. John Hagee at a May 2008 news conference at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.

WASHINGTON — The Anti-Defamation League is blasting San Antonio pastor John Hagee for calling President Barack Obama “one of the most anti-Semitic presidents in the history of the United States of America.”

That comment is “offensive and misplaced,” asserted Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL.

Hagee made the remark Sunday night at a Zionist Organization of America dinner in New York at which he and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received awards for their support of Israel. Hagee also mocked Obama for calling the U.S.-Israeli relationship unbreakable.

“He knows it’s unbreakable because he’s been trying to break it for the last five years,” said Hagee, who chairs the nation’s largest group of Christian Zionists, Christians United for Israel.

Foxman said he appreciates Hagee’s strong opinions and concern for the Jewish state. But he said………more here.

By  

Texas education board approves new social studies textbooks in partisan vote

State Board of Education members (from left) Martha Dominguez, Donna Bahorich, Lawrence Allen and Ruben Cortez looked toward colleagues on the board during a recess in Friday’s hearings on approving textbooks.

AUSTIN — State Board of Education members, voting along party lines, Friday gave final approval to a new generation of social studies textbooks and e-books that will reflect a more conservative view of U.S. history than books used for the past dozen years.

The 89 books on the list were adopted with all 10 Republicans voting yes and all five Democrats voting no.

Board member Mavis Knight of Dallas and other Democrats said they could not support the books because of the curriculum standards that publishers were required to meet, particularly for U.S. history.

Those standards were originally adopted four years ago over the objections of Democrats, who complained they highlighted conservative figures in history and were slanted toward a conservative point of view.

“I think it’s a disservice to students when we present them with textbooks that have such a particular bent. They need to see both sides of the issues so they can draw their own conclusions based on the best information we can give them,” Knight said.

“We have shortchanged our students,” she said, adding that she was not upset with publishers, who were following standards set by the board. One of those standards calls for coverage of leading conservative groups from the 1980s and 1990s in U.S. history, but not of liberal or minority groups that are identified as such.

‘Not perfect’

Democrats and some GOP board members also complained that they did not have sufficient time to review all the textbook changes submitted by publishers this week in response to criticism from the public and board members.

But board vice chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, said the board had to make a decision with the deadline approaching for adoption of the materials.

“These books are not perfect, and they never will be perfect from everybody’s perspective,” Ratliff said. But he added that the publishers met the requirements they were supposed to meet and the board is doing the best it can with a textbook selection process that needs revision.

One digital publisher was penalized on Friday by the board, which voted to remove its six proposed social studies e-books from the adoption list. The publisher, WorldView, came under fire for initially resisting suggestions for changes from the board and the public.

WorldView finally submitted hundreds of proposed changes on Thursday in an effort to keep its books on the adoption list, but it was too late. Only three board members voted to approve its materials.

“I was very concerned with WorldView’s reaction to factual errors that were found in their materials,” said board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas. “They didn’t seem to be willing to correct obvious errors, so I was not comfortable voting for them.”

Contentious points

Board members also adopted new books for high school math and fine arts, but virtually all of the debate was over social studies. Current social studies books in Texas schools were adopted 12 years ago, so many of them are incomplete or out of date.

Among the areas that were objected to by textbook critics who testified before the board earlier this week were global warming, coverage of Muslims and Islamic terrorists, and the role of religion — including Moses and the Ten Commandments — in the founding of the U.S.

Complaints also were made about coverage of important historical figures. One world history book was cited for its mostly positive coverage of former Communist leaders Joseph Stalin of Russia and Mao Zedong of China, while giving short shrift to former U.S. leaders like Ronald Reagan.

Texas school districts are not required to purchase materials on the board’s recommended list, but most do so because those textbooks and digital books are certified to cover the state’s curriculum standards and the questions that appear on achievement tests.

In addition to the six …….more here.