ACA, aka, Obamacare Subsidies Upheld By SCOTUS

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Good Stuff, Health Care at 12:49 pm by wcnews


I never really thought this challenge to the ACA had much of a chance, and here’s whey.  I’m not sure where I actually heard it, but since the 1970’s or so, SCOTUS makes it’s decisions based solely on what’s best for corporations.

From this ruling it’s pretty clear that health insurance corporations are making money on the ACA.  If they weren’t this ruling would be reversed.  Tax payer money going to health insurance corporations.  Why in the world would they want that to end?  Which is why the subsidy will continue.

Via TPM, Supreme Court Upholds Nationwide Obamacare Subsidies.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.

The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement.

It’s great that millions of Americans will not lose their health care and won’t have to wait for a GOP-led Congress to act, or more likely not act.

In Texas we still have millions needlessly going without health care because the Republicans in this state won’t allow them to have health insurance.

The drop in the number of uninsured Americans has come across the economic and racial spectrum, which can be partially attributed to the expansion in Medicaid. States that expanded their Medicaid coverage had 13.3% of uninsured adults under 65 while the states that did not expand their coverage had 19.6% of uninsured adults.

Among the states that did not expand their Medicaid coverage are Texas and Oklahoma, which had two of the highest rates of uninsured adults at 25.7% and 26.6%, respectively.

Texas Republicans show no signs of changing their cruel stance on Medicaid expansion in Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was hoping that SCOTUS would have taken away health care from those that had gotten relief from the ACA, Abbott wants Obamacare gone.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday urged his fellow Republicans not to “rescue” President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if it’s torpedoed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

No matter the reason, it’s good that SCOTUS ruled the way it did. This law is better then what we had, but is not what we need. We still need single-payer and an expansion of Social Security.


Georgetown Will Be Powered 100 Percent By Renewable Energy Within The Next Couple Years

Posted in Energy, Good Stuff, Williamson County at 11:22 am by wcnews


This is extremely good news.  For several years now I’ve been asking people to think how their life and life in general would change if energy was, in essence, free.  No electricity, natural gas, gas for cars, etc..  How much money would that free up, and more important, how much time.  Maybe people wouldn’t have to work so much.

Anyway, here’s the article from Think Progress about Georgetown, Texas going 100% renewable, This Big Texas City Will Soon Be Powered Entirely By Wind And Sun.

There’s a fast-growing city in Texas that also has one of the most progressive energy programs in the country — and it’s not Austin.

Located about 30 miles north of the Texas capital in a deeply conservative county, the city of Georgetown will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy within the next couple years. Georgetown’s residents and elected officials made the decision to invest in two large renewable energy projects, one solar and one wind, not because they reduced greenhouse gas emissions or sent a message about the viability of renewable energy — but because it just made sense, according to Mayor Dale Ross.

“This was a business decision and it was a no-brainer,” Ross told ThinkProgress from his office along one of the city’s main thoroughfares. “This is a long-term source of power that creates cost certainty, brings economic development, uses less water, and helps the environment.”


Ross said that a lot of “folks don’t really care what kind of electrons are flowing down the transmission lines,” they just don’t want to pay more for power. Once he explains the new setup to residents, even the most skeptical and politically conservative, they tend to come around.

“The main criticism I’ve heard about green energy is the worry that the tax credits might go away,” said Ross. “Well that doesn’t impact us because they are contractually obligated to deliver energy at that price for 25 years.”

Ross, who is a Certified Public Accountant by trade, took this idea one step further.

“And if you are really looking into that — in the tax code which industry gets the most deductions and credits of any industry out there? That would be fossil fuels. Renewable energy credits are minuscule compared to fossil fuels,” said Ross, who was elected as a Republican mayor earlier this year. [Emphasis added]

The logic of renewable energy is unassailable. The main factors working against it have been the fossil fuel industry’s power, along with the lack of infrastructure and technology. With infrastructure and technology out of the way there’s only one thing left standing in the way.

In February, Georgetown’s City Council approved the final agreement with California-based SunEdison to provide up to 150 megawatts of solar power to the city between 2017 and 2041. It is the largest SunEdison solar agreement in Texas to date. While Texan leaders such as former-governor Rick Perry have made California out to be an entrepreneurial desert, where it’s “next to impossible” to build a business, the California solar industry is far outpacing Texas in solar development. In 2014, California led the country in solar installations adding 4,316 megawatts of solar electric capacity to the grid.

For the most part, Texas lawmakers seem more focused on banning local fracking bans rather than incentivizing solar power when it comes to creating a business-friendly energy environment.

Georgetown was able to eschew any industry pressure in making its energy decisions, which Foster said were “easy” once it was determined that they met three main criteria: they were the lowest-cost source of power, they eliminated the risk of long-term price fluctuation, and they helped the city increase its renewable energy portfolio. Originally Georgetown had a target of getting 30 percent of its power from renewables by 2030.


“Part of what really shocks most people is that we did this in the middle of a shale gas boom, with energy coming from gas plants being really cheap,” said Foster. “But none of the suppliers at that price were willing to do long-term contracts — they don’t believe it will stay cheap for so long.”

Like the downfall of many industries it will be the arrogance of the fossil fuel industry that brings it down.  Georgetown deserves credit for stepping up and moving forward embracing progress.

But moving forward to a time when energy costs become extremely low or, in essence, free will take even more progress. And in that manner keep an eye on the Tesla Powerwall and Solar Roadways as well.


Frack Free Denton “fractivists” are The TPA’s Texans Of The Year

Posted in Around The State, Good Stuff at 11:11 am by wcnews

Here’s the Press Release:

Texas Progressive Alliance taps
Denton’s “fracktivists” Texans of the Year

In one of the organization’s more closely contested votes, the Texas Progressive Alliance — the state’s consortium of liberal blogs and bloggers — named Frack Free Denton and its diverse group of activists 2014’s Texan of the Year.”The biggest win for progressives in the Lone Star State on Election Night happened in Denton, Texas,” said Charles Kuffner, president of the Alliance.  “The people showed the powerful who is still in charge.  No matter that the Texas Railroad Commission or the state’s Legislature may try to undo the will of Denton’s Republican, Democratic, and independent voters; for one day in November of 2014, those North Texans came together and said, “No more. No more polluting our air and water and poisoning our children for profit without accountability.  The people together spoke, and they were heard.”

There were also three Honorable Mentions for the coveted award.  Finishing a close second: the medical staff of Dallas Presbyterian Hospital, who were at the front lines of the nation’s Ebola crisis, notably Dr. Kent Brantley and nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who all contracted the virus and lived to tell about it.  In addition, two other large groups of Texans on either side of the political spectrum were selected: the 33% of Texans who turned out to vote in last month’s midterm elections, predominantly Caucasian male Republican voters; and the Democratic volunteer army of deputy voter registrars, blockwalkers, and those who spent long hours on their phones calling prospective voters to urge them to cast their ballots.

“To the victors go the spoils, someone famous once said,” noted Kuffner, in reference to the GOP base vote.  “But no one worked any harder than the folks in their precincts, neighborhoods, counties, and across the state to turn back the tide, at least a bit,” he added.

The TPA’s member bloggers salute all the Texans who were nominated this year, which included several candidates, some elected officials, and other activist groups.


PDiddie has more commentary on the selection.


Davis Would End Tax Give-Aways To Corporations To Fund Education

Posted in Around The State, Education, Election 2014, Good Stuff at 9:47 am by wcnews

This is the best thing I’ve seen from the Davis campaign so far, Wendy Davis targets corporate tax breaks to get money for schools.

Wendy Davis acknowledged Wednesday that her proposals to improve public schools will cost more money, but she said revenue is available if lawmakers will make education a priority and eliminate some corporate tax breaks.

“We need a governor who will lead the Legislature in a bipartisan way to find the smart ways to create that investment,” said Davis, the Democratic nominee, at an Austin news conference.

Davis said that because of Texas’ booming economy, budget writers next year are expected to have a $4 billion surplus and billions more in the state rainy day fund.

She said that existing revenue, coupled with “closing corporate tax loopholes that have been on the books in Texas for decades,” should provide lawmakers with the money needed to balance the budget and boost funding for education without new taxes.


Asked what corporate tax breaks she would close, Davis’ campaign cited as an example property tax breaks for greenbelts used exclusively for recreation and parks, including private country clubs. Another tax break targeted by the Davis campaign is $111 million a year the state loses by rewarding large stores for paying their sales taxes on time.

Davis said she and Abbott offer “starkly different paths for our state” on investment in public schools.

Cue the whining and crying form politicians funded by corporations.

Republican nominee Greg Abbott says his Democratic opponent would raise taxes if elected governor.

Of course we know what Abbott’s plan is for public education – continued neglect.  While corporations have been getting off too easy for way too long in Texas, they should see this as a way of helping themselves.  After all, there’s no better economic development plan for our state then a well educated work force.


Davis Would End Tax Give-Aways To Corporations To Fund Education


RNC Steers Clear Of Texas

Posted in Around The Nation, Good Stuff at 11:27 am by wcnews

Via the DMN, “It’s going to be in Cleveland” — Dallas loses 2016 GOP convention.

GOP chairman Reince Priebus made the announcement on Fox News, scooped by a few minutes on Twitter by a communications aide at the Republican Governors Association.

“We couldn’t be more excited. It’s a city on the rise,” Priebus said, heaping praise on a host city mocked until pretty recently as a “mistake by the lake.” “If you haven’t been to Cleveland lately, it’s a real surprise how beautiful it is down by that lake.”

He maintained that politics was secondary, though he readily conceded that going to battleground Ohio was attractive.

Politics secondary? Right. This is more likely the case.

In Austin, Texas Democrats used Dallas’ setback to tweak their rival party, asserting that Texas Republicans are too extreme for the rest of the GOP.

“The choice of Cleveland over Dallas to host the 2016 Republican National Convention shows just how toxic Texas Republicans are,” said Texas Democratic Party executive director Will Hailer. “By choosing Dallas, national Republicans would have essentially endorsed the Texas Republican platform and values, including reparative therapy for the LGBT community, repealing the 17th amendment that allows citizens to elect their own U.S. Senator, and repealing the Voting Rights Act.”

Texas is money in the bank for the GOP. There’s no reason to take the chance, and nothing good that could happen to the GOP, of showcasing the crazies in Texas in 2016. It must be pretty bad if you got beat by Cleveland.


Texas Democrats United and Ready After Successful Convention

Posted in Around The State, Democratic Events, Election 2014, Good Stuff at 11:57 am by wcnews

I didn’t pay very much attention to the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Dallas this past week.  But from what I did see it appeared the convention went very well.  Via Kuff, Convention Coverage.

 I’m not up in Dallas, though several of my blogging colleagues are. So far the reports I’ve heard are positive – lots of energy and excitement. One person even compared it to 2008, which is music to the ear. Obviously, the folks who take the time to go to a party convention aren’t the ones that need to be inspired to go vote, but they are the ones that will be doing a lot of the work to inspire others, so the more enthusiastic they are, the better.

As I said on Friday, the best thing you can do is work to help get the message out and get the voters to the polls. The next best thing you can do is pitch in financially. Democrats have done phenomenally well in grassroots small-dollar fundraising of late, which is both great and necessary since the other guys have a lot more megalomaniac billionaires on their side.

One of the most expected, and glaring, differences between Democrats and the GOP to come out of the convention was the differences in the party platforms.  Huge differences on the issues of immigration, LGBT rights, and women’s issues($).  It summarizes some of the other differences very well.

Whatever else, the two documents offer a clear sense of where each party’s head is at and the stark ideological differences between
what is now a very liberal Democratic Party and a very conservative Republican Party in Texas.

The Democrats call for investing more in education. The Republicans call for “reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.”

Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Democrats want to keep it and go beyond it to “Medicare for all.”

Republicans want to reverse Roe v. Wade and enact a constitutional amendment protecting the rights of the unborn. Democrats say the decision about an abortion should be left to a woman, her family, her physician, her conscience and her God without political interference.

Republicans want to privatize Social Security. Democrats don’t.

Republicans want to repeal the Voting Rights Act. Democrats want to restore the act’s section that required Texas to get federal approval before making changes in voting laws.

Republicans want to end in-state tuition for what they called “illegal immigrants.” Democrats want to keep it, and e beneficiaries “Texas undocumented students.”

The top of the ticket, Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, gave great speeches on Friday night.

Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte shared the spotlight at the Texas Democratic Party convention on Friday night, promising to change the direction of the state, ripping their Republican opponents and imploring Democrats to break the GOP’s two-decade grip on state government.

Davis attacked her Republican opponent, matching his attacks at the GOP convention in Fort Worth earlier this month, and talked fighting insiders in Austin.

“I’m running because there’s a moderate majority that’s being ignored — commonsense, practical, hardworking Texans whose voices are being drowned out by insiders in Greg Abbott’s party, and it needs to stop,” she said.

Davis spoke about her background, her kids and her grandmother, all as a way of establishing her Texas roots and values.

She talked about what she would do if elected, promising full-day pre-K “for every eligible child,” less testing in public schools, less state interference with teaching, more affordable and accessible college. She also implied she would end property tax exemptions for country clubs as part of property tax reform, and end a sales tax discount for big retailers who pay on time.

She took some swipes at her opponent, too.

“Unlike Greg Abbott, I’m not afraid to share the stage with my party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, my colleague, mi hermana, Leticia Van de Putte,” she said. When the audience hooted, she cautioned them: “Now you guys don’t clap too much or Greg Abbott will sue you.”

The insider slam on Abbott was woven into Davis’ nine pages of prepared remarks. “You see, Mr. Abbott cut his teeth politically as part of the good old boys’ network that’s had their hands on the reins for decades,” she said. “He’s been in their service and their debt since he ran for office, and as a judge and a lawyer, he’s spent his career defending insiders, protecting insiders, stacking the deck for insiders and making hardworking Texans pay the price.”

Davis said Abbott accepts large contributions from payday lenders “and then clears the way for them to charge unlimited interest rates and fees.” She blasted him for taking contributions from law firms that handle bond deals approved by the office of the attorney general, and for saying state law does not require chemical companies to reveal what they are storing in Texas communities.

“He isn’t working for you; he’s just another insider, working for insiders,” she said.

Van de Putte, who spoke immediately before Davis, promised not to back down from the fight against Dan Patrick, her opponent for lieutenant governor. She said she would instead fight to “put Texas first.”

When she ran for student council president in junior high, she said, she was told she could not run because she was a girl.

“Well I did, and I won,” she said.

She said that lesson remains relevant now. “I need to run, not just because I am a girl, but because I want the responsibility. Because I know what needs to get done. And I know I’m the right person for the job.”

“I ain’t in it for the show,” she said. “I ain’t no pushover. I ain’t no East Coast liberal. I ain’t no West Coast Democrat. This grandma’s name is Leticia San Miguel Van de Putte from the barrio, and I am a Tejana.”

She spent a large portion of her address criticizing Patrick’s Senate voting record — sometimes, she noted, he was voting alone — against investments in roads and water as well as in favor of more than $5 billion in cuts to public schools in 2011.

“Patrick offers a vision of Texas with less opportunity than the generations that came before us,” Van de Putte said. “He would be the first politician to leave Texas with less for our children.”

It’s evident that the case has been made very well for the need for change in Texas. Now what’s needed is the work to be done to register new voters and get them to the polls in November. And that appears to be happening as well.

At its workshop Saturday, Battleground Texas trained delegates how to persuade undecided voters using techniques and approaches honed in President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential race.

“These messages were actually tested, not just something that somebody thought sounds good,” said Laura Derrick, Battleground’s special projects manager who helped Obama win Ohio. “They did focus groups. They did message testing.”

For example, volunteers are encouraged to use the term “hard working” instead of “middle class,” which suggests economic division among some voters. The Battleground model developed for Texas found that voters respond particularly to someone who will “fight for them” and oppose Abbott if they see him as “an insider” — both phrases that Davis repeatedly used in her speech to the convention

“We didn’t have this before in Texas — now we do,” Derrick said.

Jeremy Bird, a founder of Battleground Texas whose Chicago-based consulting firm also works for Ready for Hillary, said part of the task of building a sustainable voter base is dealing with barriers against voting, especially among Hispanics who don’t vote in numbers reflecting their population.

“When you look at voting history in Texas and you look at the cultural barriers of several cycles of low voter turnout, we have to break that down,” Bird said. “We have to give people a clear articulation of why their vote matters and the difference between the two parties.

Rojas, the Dallas delegate, said he’s impressed with Battleground Texas’ focus on building a structure to win elections.

“They’re not saying, ‘Well, we’re definitely going to win this time.’ We’re building for 2016,” he said. “Every team we build for Battleground right now is for November, but also for the future.”

Zac Petkanas, a spokesman for the Davis campaign, says there’s no conflict between those focused on winning this year and those engaged in building for the future.

“The way to build infrastructure in 2016 and 2018 is to win in 2014,” he said. “Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t have the credibility of someone running for dog catcher.”

I think that last point is particularly poignant. Slater tries to make the fact that because Texas Democrats now have many more people involved with registering, identifying and mobilizing voters, that’s somehow a bad thing. I’m not buying that at all, this is all good news.

And as this article today points out the GOP is having trouble keeping it’s voters together, Voices from the lost tribe of Texas GOP moderates.

There might be a moment’s angry pleasure in pledging your vote to “none of the above.” There’s not much joy, though, in feeling abandoned.

And nobody feels it more keenly right now than so-called moderate Republicans, who have been shoved clean out of the GOP tent by the pure-D looniness of the ascendant uber-right.

Well, it’s not a surprise. The internecine war within the Republican ranks has been predicted for a while now.

Some people, of course, might profess not to care about Republican politics. If they care about the society they live in, they should.

Anti-government extremists aren’t just bellowing on the radio anymore: They are being elected to govern. What their brand of government is going to look like, I cannot really say, but I have a kind of jittery feeling about it.

This sentiment is coming to you not only from hectoring media robots (me), but from Republicans who say they have been disenfranchised without much warning. These include business-oriented fiscal conservatives, social libertarians who favor personal responsibility and privacy, even some of the early tea party adherents who embraced the goals of smaller government and a lower tax burden.

I’ve been fielding comments and messages from these folks for a while now. A year or so ago, it was Republican women alarmed at restrictions on reproductive rights and privacy. Now, with the right-wing race to crazy in full stampede, I hear from respected veteran legislators ousted in primary upsets by opportunistic ideologues. Or people who understand religious liberty is not limited to one theological flavor. Or people who support gun rights, but who also grasp that unlimited firepower for everybody, everywhere, the more the better, is not a sane policy.

A couple of weeks back, I got a fresh flurry of laments from the Lost Tribe of Moderate Republicans, appalled by a Texas GOP platform that endorsed discredited, homophobic “reparation therapy” that’s supposed to turn gay people straight.

This wasn’t necessarily the line-in-the-sand issue for most of the people I heard from, but more evidence of an abrupt takeover of the party by extremists who seem opposed to everybody and everything.


“The party which I once believed stood for opportunity for all left me,” one man wrote.

A retired gentleman told me he is contemplating voting — with distaste — for Democrats for the first time in his life. Says another: “Am I going to have to go to the dark side this November in order to make my distaste for the party known?”

But, as much as blue-state operatives might welcome this prospect, other conservatives say they can’t make that leap. They are left, they say, with no candidate, no party, nobody to vote for — and nobody to represent their philosophy.

Whether these former Republicans vote for Democrats (much preferred), or don’t vote at all, that’s a win for Democrats. The more former reliable GOP voters change their voting habits the better things will get for Democrats.

What all of this shows is that things are already changing. Whether Wendy Davis will win in November is still up in the air, but she’s saying all the right things.

“We’re going to have the resources that we need, and we are going to be competitive not only on television, but I can assure you this — there’s no way he can match us on the ground. We’ve already got 18,000 people volunteering on the ground for us in this campaign, and it’s only June,” Davis said. “And as we get closer and closer to the election, I expect that that number will increase dramatically.”

While trailing in the polls, Davis repeated what her campaign has said – that traditional polls aren’t reaching the people who normally wouldn’t vote but whom she is working to motivate.

“We are reaching out to so many people who have stayed home in gubernatorial election years,” she said. “I see them fired up, I see them enthusiastic and most importantly, I see belief. And in these elections, belief is half the battle.”

Things are shaping up better then they have in some time for Texas Democrats in 2014.

Further Reading:
John Coby, A tale of two conventions, Texas Democrats vs Texas Tea Party.
PDiddie, #TDP14 wrap-up.
McBlogger, Gringos & Other Assholes: Recollections From The 2014 TDP Convention.
BOR, The 7 Most Important Take-Aways From The 2014 Texas Democratic Party State Convention | TDP #2014.
Texpatriate, Convention recap.



Pure Spite

Posted in Around The Nation, Good Stuff, Health Care at 8:05 pm by wcnews

The news regarding the ACA, aka Obamacare, has been really good lately.  But as Paul Krugman points out it could be better, if it wasn’t for a few bad “red state” apples, Health Care Nightmares.

At the state level, however, Republican governors and legislators are still in a position to block the act’s expansion of Medicaid, denying health care to millions of vulnerable Americans. And they have seized that opportunity with gusto: Most Republican-controlled states, totaling half the nation, have rejected Medicaid expansion. And it shows. The number of uninsured Americans is dropping much faster in states accepting Medicaid expansion than in states rejecting it.

What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars. The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy — recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.” Indeed.

And while supposed Obamacare horror stories keep on turning out to be false, it’s already quite easy to find examples of people who died because their states refused to expand Medicaid. According to one recent study, the death toll from Medicaid rejection is likely to run between 7,000 and 17,000 Americans each year.

But nobody expects to see a lot of prominent Republicans declaring that rejecting Medicaid expansion is wrong, that caring for Americans in need is more important than scoring political points against the Obama administration. As I said, there’s an extraordinary ugliness of spirit abroad in today’s America, which health reform has brought out into the open.

And that revelation, not reform itself — which is going pretty well — is the real Obamacare nightmare.

Things are going so well in Arkansas, where they expanded Medicaid, that an Arkansas Free Clinic [Is] Closing, Citing More Insured Through Obamacare.

A medical clinic in Mena, Ark. announced that it would be closing, citing a large drop in need for the clinic as people have signed up for health insurance under Obamacare.

“Because people are qualifying for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, our free medical clinic will not be needed anymore,” Stacey Bowser, the director of the 9th Street Ministries Clinic, told the Mena Star.

What could have been in Texas, is all I can think.


Looks like Wendy Davis is….

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014, Good Stuff at 3:55 pm by wcnews

With the email that went out this morning it’s almost a forgone conclusion that on October 3rd Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis will announce that she’s running for Governor of Texas.

There’s one question I’ve gotten quite often in the past few months. I’ve heard it online, while I’m traveling around the state, from the media, and in my Fort Worth neighborhood: What’s next?

On October 3rd, I’ll be answering that question. And as part of my dedicated network of grassroots supporters, you will be among the very first to find out.

But today, I have a question for you — do you have any friends or family who would like to be among the first to know?

Share this on Facebook and tweet it to your followers to let your friends know how they can sign up to receive the news early.

I truly appreciate all the work that you — my grassroots team — have done for me thus far. And I’m excited about what we can do together in the future.

Thank you for all of your support — and thanks for spreading the word!

Your friend, and proudly your state Senator,


Find out more and get involved at www.wendydavisforsenate.com.  BOR has more, Wendy Davis Will Announce Intentions For Texas Governor October 3rd.


Van de Putte seriously considering run for Lt. Gov., A Davis run will influence other Democrats

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014, Good Stuff at 1:24 pm by wcnews

BOR and Kuff have already covered the news from Jonathan Tilove that state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is seriously thinking about running for Lt. Governor of Texas in 2014, Van de Putte contemplates joining a Davis ticket.

When I asked her about running for lieutenant governor she replied, “I’m just so very honored and flattered that so many people from the grassroots, Democratic Party leaders and Texas business leaders have urged me, about the possibility. First and foremost my thoughts are waiting to see what my sister colleague, Wendy Davis, is going to do, and then visiting with my family. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities, but I have not made any decision.”

Van de Putte said “history will show that we have had 20 years of solid Republican rule and in those 20 years, I’ve seen our infrastructure needs (she cited water, transportation and education) ignored, until this very recent session, and what we’re trying to do, as the speaker put it, with our highway funding is a band aid. It becomes really easy for those in office to say `no’ and be so afraid of the next primary that they are very hesitant to say `yes’ to even an increase in fees or a gasoline tax, which we haven’t had in 22 years.”

“All I can say is I’m still in the thinking mode and my family has really been through so much this past year,” she said. “The biggest decision will be that of the heart of my family.”

The more quality candidates Democrats have on the statewide ballot the better. Van de Putte, unlike Davis, can run and still hold onto her state Senate seat. Hopefully some more Democrats will get in. I’d like to see former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh run for a statewide office.  I agree with Kuff:

I’m so on board with this. The two Senators would make an excellent and energizing top of the ticket, and should have no trouble attracting ballotmates, volunteer energy, and fundraising support. Sure, they would face an uphill battle, but they will be as well placed to start out as any Democratic statewide candidate has been in a long time. We’re ready when you are, ladies.

If Davis runs the ballot on the Democratic side will look completely different then if she decides against running.


Great Labor news for Texas as Labor Day approaches

Posted in Around The State, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Labor at 10:21 am by wcnews

On Labor Day were supposed to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, not just mark the end of Summer. But since the pendulum has swung from labor to corporations, bidness owners, and the one percent, we don’t talk much about workers on Labor Day anymore.

Which is why this is welcomed news, Ahead of Labor Day, AFL-CIO president says it’ll target Texas like never before in next elections.

Just ahead of Labor Day, the president of the AFL-CIO, a coalition of 57 labor unions, said Thursday that it will target Texas “like never before” in the coming elections. It also will seek to boost union ranks in the famously pro-employer Lone Star State.

Richard Trumka told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that immigration and worker safety are key issues that make Texas an important battleground for progressive groups like his.

He stopped short of saying the group, which represents some 12 million union workers, would specifically support state Sen.Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose national profile has risen since leading filibuster in the Texas Senate earlier this summer.

Trumka suggested boasts by Texas leaders about the fast-growing economy there ring hollow when examined more closely. The state’s insistence on keeping at bay regulators of all stripes has hurt the state, despite a job boom often touted by Gov,. Rick Perry and others.

“If you look at the quality of those jobs, if you look at the quality of the education, and look at a number of things, that hasn’t been true,” he said. “Also, if you leave employers to their own devices I know work sites can get pretty nasty. So the lack of regulation works to the detriment of a lot of people.”

“We are also very, very dismayed that there is only one state in the nation that doesn’t have a fire code, and that there is only one state in the country that prohibits its counties to have a fire codes. That would be state of Texas.

“One of my first roles in organized labor,” he said, “was to serve on the health and safety committee. The fact that there are no fire codes jeopardized worker safety.” (The Dallas Morning News has reported that state law prevents 70 percent of its counties from having a fire code.)

This is certainly great news.  Getting labor unions seriously engaged in Texas, along with Battleground Texas can only help as we head into 2014.   And no state’s workers need more help getting organized then those in Texas.  There are several other areas where they can focus, raising the minimum wage and wage theft just to name a couple. But the lack or regulation and worker protections is also a major issue, as the explosion in West showed. What is more troubling is that our current crop of legislators appear to be unable and unwilling to fix the problem, Texas lawmakers hesitant to add new regulations in wake of West explosion.

Texas lawmakers following up on the deadly April explosion in West hesitated Monday to support new regulations for storing, moving and insuring ammonium nitrate in the state.

The reluctance came amid testimony about concrete examples of how companies are allowed to rebuff state agencies, keeping officials and residents in the dark about potential threats.

Ammonium nitrate is a common ingredient in agricultural fertilizer. It fueled the April 17 explosion in West that killed 15 people, injured more than 300 and did an estimated $135 million worth of damage to private and public property. Officials said Monday that more than 140 facilities in the state have the chemical on hand.

Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee members were told that five companies that have the hazardous fertilizer ingredient wouldn’t let the state fire marshal inspect their facilities.

They were also told that one railroad declined to share data about the dangerous chemicals it moves through Texas. The railroad told the state emergency department it already shares the information with the state Department of Transportation. Another railroad hasn’t responded to state requests for information.

Officials said Union Pacific, which runs the line by the West Fertilizer Co. plant, provided information.

West Fertilizer’s $1 million in insurance coverage won’t begin to cover the property, medical and emotional damage caused by the explosion.

Since the blast, the Texas Department of Insurance has asked 95 fertilizer companies and 32 insurers about the level of coverage for other facilities with the dangerous chemical. Ten fertilizer companies and four insurers responded.

Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber testified that some facilities with ammonium nitrate are uninsured because their policies were canceled after the West explosion. Texas law doesn’t mandate the terms for an insurance company to offer policies to plants like the one in West.

But state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said lawmakers should not add new layers of regulation and oversight as a knee-jerk reaction to the deadly West blast.

“If we’re not careful, we could get like the federal government putting diapers on cows,” he said.

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, a committee member, said burdening companies with more operating costs could affect Texans’ finances.

“It’s a very serious implication,” he said.

The Legislature’s next regular session isn’t until January 2015, so the committee can’t recommend any bills. Gov. Rick Perry did not allow lawmakers to debate chemical safety or oversight in any of the three special sessions he called since the West explosion.

Flynn and Sheets understand that there’s no reason to burden business, aka their campaign contributors, with the price of protecting workers and communities, when they know if something bad happens the taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Until those of us who earn a paycheck for a living start to organize, vote, and make our government hold corporations, bidness owners, and the one percent accountable, none of this will change.  The Cheap Labor Conservatives must go.  And that is what all of us workers must remember this year on Labor Day.

Further Reading:

Census: Texas has highest rate of uninsured in nation.

Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents who lack health insurance, with more than 1 in 4 people younger than 65 without coverage of any kind, according to new census data released Thursday.

More than 5.7 million people, 26 percent of Texans younger than 65, were uninsured in 2011. The uninsured rate was higher — 31 percent — for working-age adults ages 18 to 64, the data show.

#829Strike: Texans Protest Low Fast Food Wages As Part of Nationwide Strike.

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