The State of Texas: March 4, 2015
Image of the Day
Guess what kind of store we like the most. If you said anything, you’re probably wrong, because who would ever guess that “car battery store” would be the most popular. Clearly, we have an energy problem (as does Georgia, Kansas and Ohio):
Texas By The Numbers
Corporate Headquarters – Houston’s rank among cities for corporate relocating and expansions: number two. Number of times in the past seven years it has held the top ranking: four.
Babies – Yearly cost to American taxpayers for unplanned pregnancies: $21 billion. Per person: $366. Cost to Texas: $3 million. Number of unplanned births in Texas: 180,700. Percentage of all state births: 46.8 percent.
What Miracle? – Number of Texas households that received food stamps in 2013: 1.3 million. Percentage: 14 percent. In 2000: 505,968. Percentage: 6.9 percent. Nationwide: 13.5 percent.
Reform, School – Our education system hasn’t been doing all that hot, so the obvious solution is a lot of reforms. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and a bevy of conservative state senators rolled out their proposed changes to the education system yesterday, and they’re sure to get people (well, teachers) angry. The package includes “plans to issue A through F grades for individual public schools—rather than just giving letter grades to school districts, which lawmakers approved last session—and expanded online learning,” according to the Associated Press. “There are also proposals linking teacher pay raises to annual evaluations, and allowing parents to petition to close failing schools after just two years, instead of the current five.” While the Austin American-Statesman presents the proposed ideas as “divisive concepts that teacher advocate groups oppose,” the AP says the changes, compared to school vouchers, “are less controversial but could still spark heated debates.” Patrick and company said they plan to roll out school voucher legislation later this year.
Hold the Immigration Line – A coalition of 26 states, led by Texas, really don’t want President Obama’s immigration order to go into effect. A Texas judge put a stay on the order last month, and the state coalition yesterday submitted a 22-page filing asking the judge to continue with that stay, writing that “there is no emergency need to institute this sweeping new program” and that “it is not in the public interest to allow (the U.S. government) to effect a breathtaking expansion of executive power, all before the courts have had a full opportunity to consider its legality,” according to CBS News. Meanwhile, the Justice Department said it needs to proceed with plans in order to “ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is able to most effectively protect national security, public safety, and the integrity of the border.” This could go on for awhile, as there is no deadline for the judge’s decision.
RoboCop II: Texas – The future of enforcement is causing controversy here in Texas. First there’s Cody Wilson, the troublemaking, libertarian-y young man whose 3-D printable gun business has caused an untold amount of consternation. Lately, Wilson’s company has run into trouble, as all the 3-D printer companies refuse to sell him that one thing he needs. So now Wilson is offering $15,000 to anyone who sends him a printer (they cost about $8,000), calling his proposal a “bounty,” according to Wired magazine. As for actual policing, conservatives and libertarians are pretty happy about news coming out of Sharpstown. In 2012 the city decided to switch from an actual police force to Blackwater-type defense contractors. The result has apparently been a reduction in crime by 61 percent, according to The Blaze. “In addition to the apparent increase in efficiency, the private firm is reportedly saving taxpayers roughly $200,000 each year—even though the community is getting more patrol officers than before.”
A Different Kind of “Tea” – David Simpson, the “tea party-backed Texas state lawmaker,” has “filed a bill to fully legalize marijuana, seeking to strike any prohibition of it from state statute,” writes the Associated Press. Simpson sounded like some Colorado hippie (i.e., completely reasonable) when he said, “I am proposing that this plant be regulated like tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee. Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. With a beautiful Texas touch, Simpson also invoked the good Lord. “All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix.” But don’t get too excited, kids! While this is one of the more sweeping pro-pot pieces of legislation, it’s not the first time marijuana-friendly legislation has been proposed before being soundly and swiftly defeated.