I hope you have a safe and fun Memorial Day but please take time to remember the sacrifice our soldiers have made for this country. If they weren’t willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today. So on this day, please make the extra effort to fly your flag, thank a soldier, pray for our troops, and enjoy your freedoms.
Archive for May, 2011
For this weeks Texas Blog Friday we highlight Will Fraklin’s blog, WILLisms, and his post Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 929 — Foreclosure Rates Tell A Tale Of Texas’ Awesomeness. His post covers Texas’ continued dominance in this economy and this time he highlights our low mortgage foreclosure rate. This is great news because foreclosure rates are used as an economic indicator to help judge the future success an economy. His post is formated in a way I enjoy too… short and sweet.
Texas Dominates Again-
The Texas mortgage foreclosure rate in April 2011 was roughly half the national rate, and far below the rate in California:
Meanwhile, sales tax collections in Texas were up 11.4% in April, relative to April 2010.
You can read the full post(or whats left of it) by clicking here.
There are only 6 days left in session and things are starting to get real crazy. It seems like bills are being killed, revived, or passed by the minute. I wanted to do a quick recap so everyone can be on the same page and be fully informed on what exactly is going on in the Texas Capitol.
“TSA Anti-Groping” Bill (HB 1937)
This bill would prevent those very touchy feely and sometimes humilating pat downs provided by the TSA. The bill was killed in the Texas Senate and Sen. Dan Patrick, the sponsor, said he had the votes to pass it but blamed Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for swooping in and killing the bill amid federal pressure.
“Smoking Ban” Bill (HB 670)
This bill stalled earlier this month but was later added as an amendment to SB 1811, the fiscal matters bill, by a vote of 77-66 in the Texas House. It bans smoking in bars and restaurants but exempts places like bingo halls and VFW’s.
“Sonogram” Bill (HB 15)
Late last week, Gov. Perry signed this bill into law. It makes doctors perform a sonogram before an abortion and show it to the would-be mother. Pro-life activist believe this will prevent 15,000 abortions a year. Personally, I was very happy to see this bill pass through the legislature.
“Campus Carry” Bill (SB 354)
This bill had over 80 co-authors but got hung up in both houses. Senator Wentworth was finally able to amend the bill to SB 1811. However, when it reached the Texas House it was knocked off of SB 1811 through parliamentary procedure. A point of order was raised to the tune that the campus carry bill was not germane to the rest of SB 1811. The point of order was upheld by Speaker Straus.
“Sanctuary City” Bill (HB 12)
This bill easily passed the Texas House but like many other bills could not get out of the Texas Senate. Sen. Williams, the sponsor, could only muster up 19 of the 21 votes needed to pass it. This legislation was considered a priority by Gov. Perry and the Democrats were happy to kill it yesterday.
“Loser Pays” Bill (HB 274)
This bill has been passed by both the House and Senate but the two different versions were passed. The differences are being hashed out as we speak. Loser pays is supposed to help prevent frivolous lawsuits by giving power to the judge to allow the prevailing party to recover cost from the defeated party.
The Budget (HB 1)
The budget has been passed by the House and the Senate but is currently sitting in conference committee. This usually means the end is near. However, school finance is still a work in progress and SB 1811, a major fiscal matters bill, has yet to be worked out. Look for a special session to work out school finance. No school finance reform would mean schools would be out of money in the beginning of next session. I highly doubt Perry would allow that to happen.
If you don’t see a bill listed that you would like to know more about, please let me know in the comments section and I’ll let you know if it’s alive or dead. Also, if you see a bill listed and would like to learn more about it you can click on the bill number in the title.
Note: These fate of these bills are changing frequently but I will try to keep you updated on the changes as they happen.
There has been a lot of debate on how to rein in tuition cost and a new study released by the Center for Affordability and Productivity shows some very interesting data. It analyzes the University of Texas and the workload of professors in conjunction with research funding. This study might redefine on how we look at university funding, so let’s jump right in:
- 20 percent of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57 percent of student credit hours. They also generate 18 percent of the campus’s research funding. This suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.
- Conversely, the least productive 20 percent of faculty teach only 2 percent of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage of external research funding than do other faculty segments.
- Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8 percent) to a small minority (20 percent) of the faculty; only 2 percent of the faculty conduct 57 percent of funded research.
So what does all of this mean?
When we look at UT it shows that ”if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half.” I see this as a no brainer to ask university professors to work just a little bit more in order to lower tuition cost, especially when the savings are so significant. Research funding will also be largely protected which has been a whole debate within itself.
I hope this will reinforce the argument that our current funding structure and how universities operate needs to be revamped. I hope this study will be used as a road map in future university funding. I hope new reforms are enacted so I don’t have to pay the estimated $400,000 to send one of my kids to college. However, I still feel that professors as a whole will reject this study and even the possibility of working more hours.
A tip to the hat to Bryan Preston for catching this comment and also to Will Franklin for bringing it to my attention. In case you didn’t hear Texas’ very own Democrat State Senator Judith Zaffirini recently made the most elitist comment of the year. I personally don’t think this comment can be beat. In fact, I believe we should go ahead and shut down voting and give her the coveted Texas Ivory Tower Award. She really deserves it and I bet she would like to thank her PhD in Communications for helping her earn this prestigious award. You can view her comments below:
QUESTION: Perry graduated from A&M, which initially embraced the “reforms” (although A&M Systems Chancellor Mike McKinney faced a firestorm and resigned last week). Does Perry have something against UT?
ZAFFIRINI: Rick Perry doesn’t understand higher education. He doesn’t have a graduate degree, and he graduated a long time ago with a major in something like agriculture. I have a PhD, so I understand the value of research and teaching. He just doesn’t understand it. In the legislature, we’re used to dealing with regents who love their universities, who bleed orange or red or whatever their colors. These new regents appointed by Perry don’t seem to have any school spirit. They seem suspicious and cynical. They haven’t taken time to understand what the status quo is; they just want to change it.
Well done senator and congratulations!
Last week, I made a post highlighting Tom Leppert’s attempt to court two ultra-liberal organizations: the SEIU and ACORN. In 2007, he sought the endorsements of these organizations while he was running for mayor of Dallas. This is very problematic because he is now running for the US Senate in the Republican Primary, and it would be an understatement to say that ACORN and Republican values are polar opposites. What I didn’t provide in that post was a new video that surfaced which shows Leppert signing ACORN pledges that cover issues like immigration and affordable housing, among many others. It is unclear if he signed every single pledge, but the video does show him literally signing on the dotted line to side with ACORN.
The video below was produced by the Birdwalker Company in 2007 during his campaign to become Dallas mayor. Although the video doesn’t have the best quality and is a little odd, I don’t see anything in it that proves this video wasn’t shot and made during Tom Leppert’s visit to an ACORN office.
Welcome to my second installment of Texas Blog Friday! On Fridays I choose a post from one of my favorite Texas blogs to help promote the blog and the issues they care about. This week I picked the blog Ramparts 360 by Sibyl West and her article covering the very controversial Texas Windstorm Insuarance Association(TWIA). Two quick notes: This bill was passed out of the House and is now headed to the Senate. The name was also changed to Texas Coastal Insurance Plan (TCIP).
Yesterday the results in the Texas 82nd legislature yielded this report: House Gives Initial OK to Windstorm Insurance Reform. Our previous coverage of this story was Donna Garner’s September 2010 Of the lawyers, by the lawyers and for the lawyers. As we reported, Democrat machine money man Steve Mostyn had let it be known that he suspected Larry Taylor of investigating his work because of “political retribution.” Apparently Taylor kept that in the forefront of his mind because eight months later in the Texas Tribune we find this:
“What you see before you today is not designed to punish anyone,” said Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, who said that in the same time period TWIA was forced to pay $101 million to policyholders who filed suit to get their storm damage covered, the agency paid another $60 million in attorneys fees. “It’s giving people the opportunity to get their claims paid quickly and fairly.”
You can read the full post by clicking here.
There was a lot of action outside President Obama’s fundraiser last night in downtown Austin. There was a crowd of DREAM ACTers chanting, Osama bin Laden look-a-likes, disabled American’s waving flags, general spectators and a very controversial Sand Dun Lizard. The lizard was holding a sign that read TheObamaEconomy.com which is a new microsite that US Senate candidate, Roger Williams, set up to “welcome” Obama to Texas and to also tout his business credentials. I thought the lizard idea was funny and cleaver. It capitalizes on the recent uproar that was sparked when the EPA declared that oil and gas drilling could not take place in the Permian Basin because it might harm the lizard and its habitat. I haven’t confirmed this but I think this is apart of Obama’s “Lizards for Jobs” campaign in which each person unemployed by the lack of drilling gets their very own lizard.
Anyways, below you can view a picture of the lizard I took and a pretty darn good video that was on the TheObamaEconomy.com website.
Below are pictures I took outside the Austin City Limits where President Obama spoke, at a fundraiser, this evening. I warn you that there might be a picture in there that might be offensive to you so here is your warning. The reason I decided to display it is to give you a complete picture of what happened outside Obama’s fundraiser and show you what to expect when you go to these type of protest.