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Texas health insurance exchange will roll out tomorrow

Reporter- Houston Business Journal
After months of anticipation and speculation, the health insurance marketplace for Texas — and the rest of the nation — will roll out Oct. 1.

The marketplace, also known as the health insurance exchange, will serve up offerings geared primarily toward those who don’t currently have insurance and those who pay for their own health insurance out of pocket.

Even though the mandate requiring companies that employ 50 or more workers to provide health insurance or pay a penalty was delayed until 2015, the individual mandate will kick in as of 2014.

The look of the federally run exchange is still under wraps, but last week we learned Texans will be able to choose from lower-than-expected health plan premiums through the marketplace.

In Texas, the average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan will be $287 and the lowest-cost bronze plan will be $211. The average premium nationally for the…Continued here: http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2013/09/30/texas-health-insurance-exchange-will.html

Rick Perry Flip-Flops On Obamacare: ‘Defund It’

By Zack Beauchamp and Scott Keyes

ST. CHARLES, Missouri — Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry took an uncharacteristically independent stance, bashing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s plan to force a government shut down over Obamacare funding as “nonsensical.”

But this Saturday, Perry was singing a different tune: “Defund it,” the Governor told ThinkProgress.

When asked by ABC News earlier this week whether the shutdown showdown was a smart move, Perry had said “I don’t think it’s a good option.” Rather, the Governor argued, “there’s still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare.” Amend, not defund.

On Saturday, Perry told ThinkProgress that “you in the media” were taking him out of context. He claimed his comments to ABC merely amounted to opposition to a shutdown. “I don’t think anyone thinks the shutting down of the government was a good option,” he explained, a paraphrase inconsistent with the transcript of his ABC comments.

Perry went on to express support for fully defunding Obamacare, arguing that Obama and Reid have taken repairing Obamacare off the table by refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the shutdown crisis:

I thought there was an opportunity ten days ago to maybe come together and ‘fix,’ I think was the word I used…the President and Harry Reid clearly took that off the table this last week when they said ‘we’re not going to talk about it. It’s our way or the highway.’ Well, I’m like a lot of other people who, ‘you’ll negotiate with the leader of Iran, but you won’t even sit down with Republicans in the House and the Senate to try to find a reasonable middle ground on this? So yeah, I think we ought to defund Obamacare.

 

Perry’s pretext for his flip doesn’t work. Obama has been saying for years that he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling despite being willing to negotiate on broader fiscal issues, so Obama’s reticence to negotiate while Republicans are taking hostages that could hurt the U.S. economy isn’t new. At least one Republican in Congress, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), agreed with last week’s Perry that the crusade to defund Obamacare is making it harder to pursue the kind of “fix” Perry originally wanted.

Moreover, there are some fairly obvious differences between Obama’s recent attempt to open up negotiations with Iran and Republicans threatening to crash the economy unless Obama gives up on his signature legislation.

Regardless of the reason, Perry getting on the “defund!” train is more evidence of Cruz and his faction’s influence inside the Republican Party. “[Sen. Cruz] played a huge role,” in the House leadership picking shutdown fight in…Continued here: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/09/28/2696821/rick-perry-defund/

Rick Perry: Shutting down government to defund Obamacare not a good option

By Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps

The Fine Print

With a potential government shutdown looming in less than a week, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said it would be “nonsensical” for his fellow Republicans to support any effort to bring government to a halt over the health care law.

“I don’t think it’s a good option,” Perry told “The Fine Print.” “There’s still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare.”

In an interview late last week, Perry stopped short of calling his fellow Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, wrong for leading the charge on Capitol Hill to defund the Affordable Care Act, but said it would be more productive to work toward putting “things into place that can fix Obamacare, like health savings accounts, like personal responsibility programs, giving states the flexibility to come up with programs that fit their populations.”

The Texas governor, who announced in July that he won’t run for re-election, said he’s leaving the door open for a possible presidential run in 2016.

“Absolutely, it’s an option,” Perry said. “That will take care of itself sometime in the future.”

Perry went on to say that he believes Republican prospects of winning back the White House will be stronger if the party’s next presidential nominee is a governor, rather than a candidate from the ranks of Congress.

“Governors have to make decisions,” he said. “Listen, I totally respect the Senate and House of Representatives and what they do, but I think Washington has become too Washington-centric.”

As for his failed presidential campaign in the Republican primary of 2012, Perry said he thinks voters will give him a second chance. Though he admitted that the moment when he famously said “oops” during a televised debate after forgetting the name of a government agency he was calling to defund still runs over in his head “from time to time.”…Continued here: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/rick-perry-shutting-down-government-defund-obamacare-not-111624028.html

Texans at center of shutdown drama — especially Ted Cruz

By TODD J. GILLMAN

Washington Bureau

tgillman@dallasnews.com

WASHINGTON — Squabbling dominated the capital Monday as the government careened toward a midnight shutdown deadline. Fingers were pointed, lines drawn in the sand.

Pundits brainstormed for just the right description: stalemate, brink, train wreck, logjam.

One name was on everyone’s lips. Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, has come to personify the showdown, with implications for his role in the Senate and ambitions for president.

The blame game was well underway. The endgame? Murky.

The president and Senate Democrats refused to budge, portraying their adversaries as blackmailers. House conservatives, egged on by Cruz, dug in, refusing to accept any budget that provides funds for Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner wasn’t ready to risk his speakership to defy them.

“It’s hard to negotiate with someone who doesn’t want to negotiate,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, as House Republicans prepared a final offer to send Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — a plan with so many poison pills, rejection was preordained. “We’ll send him some political kryptonite and see what he does with it.”

Texans were at the center of the fight, thanks to Cruz; colleague John Cornyn, a key GOP leader; and the largest House Republican delegation of any state.

All eyes on Cruz

Cruz’s 21-hour overnight speech last week, the fourth-longest in Senate history, dramatized anti-Obamacare ardor. But it also made the freshman the face of GOP obstruction.

“He owns the shutdown,” Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who has been sharply critical of the GOP tactics, asserted Monday in an interview. “He was the one who said if the House voted to defund, that the Democrats would fold and the president would fold. So if the government shuts down, it’s obviously Ted Cruz’s fault.”

King was among the tiny number of lawmakers to speak out Monday at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans against a last-ditch plan that would have delayed Obamacare and canceled insurance subsidies for congressional staff.

House Democrats likewise portrayed Cruz as a prime mover behind the confrontation.

“Senator Cruz has essentially, effectively taken over the House and the Republican caucus,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House budget committee.

Over in the Senate, Reid called the junior Texas senator the “chief Senate rabble-rouser.”

“To Republicans, Obamacare is a punch line to rile up their base,” Reid said.

Cruz put the blame elsewhere.

“I, for one, don’t want to see a government shutdown,” he said.

Noting that Reid has called him a “schoolyard bully,” Cruz shot back that “what he seems most dismayed about is in the past two weeks, the voices of the American people have begun to be heard” in Congress.

Test of wills, rules

As much as the showdown was a test of wills, it was also a test of the Hastert rule, a philosophy of House leadership formulated by Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the last Republican speaker before…Continued here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20130930-texans-at-center-of-shutdown-drama–especially-ted-cruz.ece

Wendy Davis Campaign Slogans

This Week’s Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us

by Rebekah Maxwell

Remember when a political leader rose to prominence based on their experience, strength of character, moral integrity, and leadership ability?

Me neither. But it was once generally considered bad for one’s career to publicly extol the virtues of murdering innocent children.

Now, it seems one woman (a term I use loosely) is attempting to break the golden-domed ceiling, and run for governor…based solely on her passion for killing babies.

Wendy Davis is a “celebrated state senator,” if you read the NY Times. But her sole claim to fame rose from this summer’s fight over abortion regulations in Texas…remember, the pro-abortionists’ tampon bombings, hate-filled mob protests, “Hail Satan,” etc.?

Davis is the one who filibustered for 11 hours to stop Texas from raising the standard of medical care in their state clinics…because it makes it harder on abortion clinics to scrape by. She spent 11 hours pontificating on the necessities of baby-murder. Oh, and she wore pink sneakers to do it.

Now, Davis is openly talking about running for governor of Texas, a move on which most political analysts have yet to comment…because they can’t stop laughing (although we did make out something about “a snowball’s chance in Austin in August.”)

However, in the interests of sportsmanship…Continued here: http://stevedeace.com/news/wendy-davis-campaign-slogans/

Senator Cornyn is a Texas Sized Disgrace

via Kingwood TEA Party

www.kingwoodteaparty.com

Senator John Cornyn is actively working against Senator Cruz. On the Ed Hendee show earlier today, Senator Cornyn said in reference to a vote against cloture:

“A government shutdown is not in our best interest.”

In a phone conversation earlier today, the Senator’s Deputy Regional Director for the Dallas area, Collin McLochlin, told us the Senator plans to vote for cloture, even though in doing so Harry Reid would be able to strip defunding language from the CR. The reasoning? Mr. McLochlin said the Senator is worried about the Democrats and media blaming a government shutdown on Republicans, and therefore causing the party losses in the 2014 election.

Indeed, on the Ed Hendee Show, the Senator also inferred that it would be better if Obamacare were implemented and people began to feel it’s effects, saying “anything we can do to remind the American public that Democrats own Obamacare, which is becoming increasingly unpopular- a train wreck occurring right in front of our very eyes- I think that sets us up in pretty good shape for 2014.”

So according to Senator Cornyn, Obamacare is fine as long as Republicans win in 2014? The Senator needs to be reminded that a vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare.

It has been nearly impossible to get through to any of the Senator’s offices, but the phone number which has so far worked the best is his campaign office’s number, which is: 512-494-8535

– See more at: http://ramparts360.com/senator-cornyn-is-a-texas-sized-disgrace/#sthash.aruZMOZg.dpuf

Reclusive homeowner killed by police after fatally shooting burglar

Garett Ray Fisbeck/Staff Photographer
Dallas police investigated the scene of a shooting in Far East Dallas on Thursday night. “He was a loner,” a neighbor said of the homeowner who confronted police.

By TRISTAN HALLMAN

Staff Writer

thallman@dallasnews.com

A career criminal broke into a neglected-looking Far East Dallas home Thursday night thinking the homeowner had died and his belongings were there for the taking, police said.

But the homeowner, William Keith Hall, wasn’t dead after all. He shot the burglar, Jerry Wayne Hale, then stood over him in an alley with a gun in hand, police said. Hall told Hale, 30, that he wanted to shoot him again.

When police arrived, Hall pointed the 9 mm pistol — which had stopped working — at them and witnesses. Officers ordered Hall to drop his weapon and when he refused, they fatally shot the 57-year-old man.

Maj. Jeff Cotner of the crimes against persons division said Friday that responding officers didn’t realize in all the chaos that Hall was defending his home in the 10300 block of Sandra Lynn Drive.

But Cotner said Hall “had plenty of opportunities to de-escalate” the situation.

“He was given plenty of notice, and he didn’t choose a path other than to confront officers,” Cotner said.

Police received a 911 call around 7:45 p.m. Thursday from a contractor working on a nearby house. The caller told police about the shooting and said that when witnesses got near Hall, he pointed a gun at them and “tried to shoot” them. Cotner said Hall repeatedly tried to manipulate the gun’s jammed slide to fire it again, but to no avail.

During the call, the caller, who was later identified by WFAA (Channel 8) as David Humphrey, can be heard telling others to get away from Hall. Humphrey can also be heard shouting at Hall to leave Hale, who was still alive, alone.

Humphrey also told Hall that police were on the way. The contractor told Channel 8 that Hall replied, “Good, I’ll shoot them, too.”

When officers initially arrived at the scene, Cotner said Hall watched them from behind a privacy fence and later in some bushes outside his house. Without a suspect in custody, officers took cover and waved off a Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance that showed up to tend to Hale.

When Officers Julian McDaniel and Daniel Summers subsequently showed up on the scene, they didn’t know the other officers had taken cover, Cotner said. Officer Alexander Everett went to warn them as they headed toward Hale, who was lying in a pool of blood.

Then Hall began walking out of the shrubs and made it into his driveway while he continued to try to get his gun working again. Hall, who said nothing, moved toward the officers and then raised his weapon in their direction, Cotner said.

The three officers — all four-year veterans of the department — fired and struck Hall, Cotner said.

But the situation didn’t end there.

“He’s down on the ground, he’s on his back. His weapon is nearby,” Cotner said. “The officers are yelling at him — he’s still alive. He reaches for his weapon and begins to pick it up and point it again. They fire again.”

Both Hall and Hale died at the scene.

Hale, a felon, had been arrested 14 times in Texas since 2000, according to…Continued here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20130927-reclusive-homeowner-killed-by-police-after-fatally-shooting-burglar.ece?action=reregister

Placements suspended with Texas foster care contractor, affecting its 127 homes in Dallas area

AUSTIN — The state has stopped placing abused and neglected children with a major contractor after finding more problems at the company’s nearly 400 foster homes, a third of them in North Texas.

A recent state sweep of foster homes run by Texas Mentor, a division of National Mentor Healthcare, Original story here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20130927-placements-suspended-with-texas-foster-care-contractor-affecting-its-127-homes-in-dallas-area.ece?action=reregister

CSN Houston bankruptcy filing surprises Astros

Affiliates of Comcast/NBC Universal filed an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Friday in Houston against Comcast SportsNet Houston, the struggling regional sports network owned by Comcast/NBC Universal, the Rockets and Astros.

 

The action apparently came as a surprise to the Astros, who are the largest owner in the partnership at 46.384 percent, and said in a statement that they they also had issues with CSN Houston’s failure to pay rights fees to the Astros for the last three months.

 

The Rockets, who own about 30.923 percent, have no comment on the issue. NBC Universal owns 22.693 percent.

 

A statement from NBC, however, indicated that the filing may be designed to break up the logjam that has thus far prevented the network from getting widespread carriage on cable and satellite affiliates across its five-state region. Under the company’s governance structure, unanimous consent among the four-member board of directors – two from NBC Universal and one each from the Rockets and Astros – is required for approval, according to comments made by company officials earlier this year.

 

The NBC Universal statement said the Chapter 11 petition was filed “in order to resolve structural issues affecting CSN Houston’s partnership.”

 

“This action is necessary to preserve CSN Houston’s ability to provide its valuable programming and reaffirms Comcast/NBC Universal’s commitment to serving the region and its fans,” the statement added.

 

An NBC Universal spokesman would not elaborate beyond the statement.

 

In a two-paragraph statement issued Friday night, the Astros indicated that they had issues with the NBC Universal-Rockets-Astros partnership that also could have led to litigation or, at least, potential changes in the partners’ relationship.

 

“Comcast has improperly filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition in an attempt to prevent the Astros from terminating the Media Rights Agreement between the Astros and Houston Regional Sports Network,” the statement said. “HRSN failed to pay the Astros media rights fees in July, August and September, and we have invested additional money in order to keep the network viable through our season.

 

“Despite not receiving our media rights fees, our objective has not changed. We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships.”

 

HSRN is the partnership between the Astros and Rockets that was established in the early 2000s for the teams to market their media rights. The teams at one point attempted to start a regional sports network in 2003 before reaching a new rights deal with Fox Sports Southwest that expired last year.

 

The network will remain on the air while the Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedure is resolved. Chapter 11 is designed to allow companies to remain in business while their business activities are reorganized.

CSN Houston is available in only about 40 percent of Houston’s 2.2 million TV households and has…Continued here: http://blog.chron.com/sportsupdate/2013/09/bankruptcy-petition-filed-on-behalf-of-comcast-sportsnet-houston/?cmpid=hpbn

Comptroller Candidate Medina Open to Gubernatorial Bid

Debra Medina hosts a monthly potluck with Tea Party activists at her home in Wharton on Sept. 6, 2013. Medina is exploring a run for state comptroller. photo by: Michael Stravato

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina could end up running again for the state’s highest office, this time as an independent, she said Friday afternoon.

Medina, who has been exploring a race for comptroller for several months, told the Tribune earlier this month that she is having trouble raising the amount of money she thinks is necessary to mount a competitive campaign for that office. She cited a particular lack of interest from wealthy campaign donors who are typically pivotal in financing successful statewide races in Texas.

At the same time, in a development first reported by the Quorum Report, she said she has been hearing from potential donors interested in seeing her run as an independent for governor. Collectively, she has received pledges totaling millions of dollars, she said, and that has her wondering whether she ought to switch from one race to the other.

“I’m looking at the best opportunity to move these policy ideas that I have been working on: private property, state sovereignty, reform tax policy in Texas,” Medina said.

When Medina ran for governor in 2010, she drew strong interest from Tea Party activists but ultimately came in third in the Republican primary with almost 19 percent. Gov. Rick Perry drew 51 percent, avoiding a runoff with either Medina or Kay Bailey Hutchison, then a U.S. senator, who attracted 31 percent. Throughout the campaign, critics accused Medina of setting herself up to be a spoiler in the race — a charge she could face again by running as an independent in 2014.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is widely expected to win next year’s Republican primary in the open seat for governor. Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth is expected to launch a gubernatorial campaign next week, setting the stage for a race that is drawing intense national interest. Supporters of both candidates are likely to invest tens of millions of dollars in the race.

Medina said she would rather run for comptroller as a Republican than for governor as an independent. She feels the comptroller post is better suited to promoting the economic issues she is passionate about, such as abolishing the property tax. But she said she has had difficulty convincing wealthy conservatives that that race is worth investing in.

“I’m doing everything I can to assemble the resources necessary for a viable, credible campaign for comptroller,” Medina said. Noting that candidates must file for next year’s primaries by December, she added, “If it comes to November and the money still hasn’t come in, I’ll have to pull my team in and say ‘ok, are these other offers real and if they are, is this the path I should move down?’”

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/27/medina-open-bid-governor/.

Nullification The Rightful Remedy

What do we do when the federal government steps outside of it’s Constitutional boundaries? Do we ‘vote the bums out’ and hope that the new bums limit their own power? Do we ask federal judges in black robes to limit the federal government’s power? Thomas Jefferson and James Madison didn’t think so, and neither do we. The rightful remedy to federal tyranny rests in the hands of the people and the States that created the federal government in the first place. It’s called Nullification, and it’s an idea whose time has come. This documentary explores the history of state nullification, and how it is being used today to push back against the encroachment of federal power.