06.29.15

TPA Blog Round Up (June 29, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:28 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still celebrating love’s victory as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the next steps for equality advocates.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos shares personal stories about the heartbreaking impact of overt racism. And though he has come to hate prejudice and racism with a white hot passion, Lightseeker said the time has finally arrived for sharing the truth, change and healing. Time for Truth, Change and Healing is NOW.

Lost in the earth-shaking Supreme Court developments last week was a report from a former Harris County deputy sheriff that Adrian Garcia did not tell the truth when he said he did not know about the mentally ill jail inmate in a littered, feces-filled cell over a year ago. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says it’s a headache for the Houston mayoral contender, but shouldn’t damage his prospects… unless things take a turn for the worse.

Socratic Gadfly notes that new polling from Yale shows that people concerned about global warming are NOT a minority, even in a red state like Texas, even to the point of supporting a carbon tax, and suggests there are political activism and outreach lessons to be learned.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. No surprise in SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare, ACA, aka, Obamacare Subsidies Upheld By SCOTUS.

Neil at All People Have Value said that the 14th Amendment–cited this week by the Supreme Court to allow gay marriage–is the product of blood and sacrifice. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock adds up the success rate for getting bills passed for legislators who opposed Speaker Joe Straus.

Texas Watch responds to Rick Perry’s claims about his record on health care.

BEYONDBones explains why we should eat bugs. No, really.

Juanita Jean updates us on the activities of one of Dan Patricks’s citizen advisors.

The Lunch Tray says we all have a Sid Miller problem now.

The Texas Election Law Blog highlights a respected federal judge’s change of heart on voter ID.

Better Texas Blog evaluates the legislative session.

Paradise in Hell bids an un-fond farewell to the ideals of the Confederacy.

Lone Star Ma addresses some of the crazy objections that have been made to the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision.

06.22.15

TPA Blog Round Up (June 22, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 3:28 pm by wcnews

The thoughts and prayers of the Texas Progressive Alliance are with the families and friends of the victims of the horrible shooting in Charleston as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the latest developments in the ongoing investigation against AG Ken Paxton.

Letters from Texas advises Capitol staffers how to respond to the Texas Monthly Best and Worst Legislators list.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos spanks the GOP for its craven use of dog whistles and thinly veiled racism. Come and Take the Truth About Playing the Race Card, GOP.

Will the outcome of Houston’s mayoral race be similar to San Antonio’s — abysmal turnout, two Democrats in a runoff, one going after Republican votes in order to win? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs would prefer almost any other scenario besides that one.

Moving towards offering an accessible and comprehensive way to view all of life, Neil at All People Have Value added a page of pictures he has taken out in everyday life to his website. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Socratic Gadfly says that, although the symbolism of the Confederate flag is offensive, the First Amendment protects offensiveness, and the Supreme Court got it wrong in ruling Texas can ban Sons of Confederate Veterans vanity plates.

With municipal elections looming large in the background, Texas Leftist tried to keep up with intense political theater that was this year’s Houston City Budget”… the last ever of the Annise Parker Mayoralty.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The TSTA Blog has plenty of reasons to fear a Scott Walker presidency.

Better Texas Blog measures the impact in Texas of an adverse SCOTUS decision in King v. Burwell.

Juanita Jean marvels at the story about Texas’ own Fort Knox.

Texas Vox calls on the CFPB to end forced arbitration.

The Lunch Tray bemoans Ag Commissioner Sid Miller’s decision to lift a decade-old ban on deep fat fryers in schools, ironically done as part of an initiative to fight childhood obesity.

And finally, the TPA congratulates Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast on his new gig as Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas.

06.15.15

TPA Blog Round Up (June 15, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:24 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is binged out on the Women’s World Cup as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff tries to predict how County Clerks and AG Ken Paxton will react to a SCOTUS ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos spanks the Texas Republican Party for its ideological and spiteful decisions that cheat Texas taxpayers, robbing them of paid for services. Wake up voters. TX GOP: Spite Cheats Texas Taxpayers.

A few people predicted Leticia Van de Putte’s close loss in the San Antonio mayor’s race, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found them.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know a labor bashing provision was in the Latino bashing border security bill. 50 hours a week is the new norm.

Socratic Gadfly thinks we need to drop a bomb on our entire current health care system, going beyond “single payer” to a full-blown British-type National Health System.

Nonsequiteuse is frustrated by journalists who can’t or won’t shut down wingnuts when they go into the Gish Gallop.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Good news out of Williamson County regarding renewable energy, Georgetown Will Be Powered 100 Percent By Renewable Energy Within The Next Couple Years.

Neil at All People Have Value took a picture of the mailbox he used to send a $50 donation to the Bernie Sanders campaign. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist wants you to know about the 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth, and where you can go across Texas to celebrate.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock looks back at how the Senate operated in a non-two-thirds-rule world.

Juanita is keeping an eye on Tom DeLay as the SCOTUS same sex marriage ruling draws near.

Greg Wythe reviews the list of departing (or possibly departing) legislators so far.

Scott Metzger offers his thoughts on a recent kerfuffle between some high-end restaurants and the Silver Eagle beer distributor that has many Texas microbreweries caught in the middle.

Carmen Cruz and Annetta Ramsey argue that marriage equality matters to both gay and straight people.

BEYONDBones celebrates World Ocean Day while spreading the word about the problem of plastic pollution.

The Texas Election Law Blog critiques Rick Hasen’s criticism of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s push for voting rights reform.

Jay Crossley calls for an end to road-only bonds.

06.08.15

TPA Blog Round Up (June 8, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:34 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is happy there’s no hint of any special sessions to come as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes that while Travis County is ready for the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage, there’s likely to be no small amount of chaos in the state once they do.

Letters from Texas explains how a recent ruling in a North Carolina redistricting case may bode well for Texas’ plaintiffs.

LightSeeker at Texas Kaos calls “ethics reform” in Texas for what it is. Government is for, by and of the highest bidder. Texas leads the pack. Texas Ethical Reform – DOA.

SocraticGadfly, reading about a new study that claims classical psychological conditioning during sleep can reduce racist tendencies, has two thoughts: it’s either too good to be true, or, if it has real and lasting change, it’s probably got an element of Clockwork Orange.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is glad McAllen ISD and others are taking care to feed children during the summer.

Do you think Greg Abbott’s first legislative session as governor was a success or a failure? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wants to know.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson, the threat was enough for the clandestine video scheme that may have changed the game on the budget and taxes in 84th Texas Legislature, Timing Is Everything.

Neil at All People Have Value offered a framework about how to live our lives. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Nonsequiteuse missed the Houston Mayoral Candidates Arts and Culture Forum, but it got her thinking about getting arts organizations out of their silos and engaged as advocates for progressive change.

On her long road seeking the Presidency, one of Hillary Clinton’s greatest challenges will be to re-create the infamous Coalition of 2008. This week at Houston’s Texas Southern University, she worked hard to mend some fences, and shared some important views on Voting Rights.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Watch celebrated its victories from the legislative session.

Grits can’t wait to see if the state’s new junk science writ will be interpreted broadly or not.

The Texas Election Law Blog asks if our government is supposed to represent everyone, or just everyone who is allowed to vote.

The Texas Living Waters Project warns of a new environmental danger to the Brazos River.

Molly Cox bemoans low voter turnout in San Antonio.

Keep Austin Wonky explains how percentage-based homestead exemptions help fuel inequality.

Paradise in Hell is not impressed by Rick Perry 2016.

Texans for Public Justice and Public Citizen call Greg Abbott “just plain wrong” on the matter of dark money and disclosure.

Texas Vox managed to find a few small rays of hope from the legislative session.

Equality Texas produced its report card for the 84th Legislature.

06.04.15

Wrapping Up The 84th Legislature

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary at 9:13 am by wcnews

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Here’s the take from a business columnist on the 84th Legislature, Thanks to Legislature, business needs go begging.

On Transportation:
Will these efforts generate the $3.3 billion a year needed for Texas roads? No. Shipping and commuting costs will keep rising for every Texan because of poor roads, but hey, at least lawmakers can claim they didn’t raise taxes.

On Education:
Lawmakers also stiffed public schools. Per-student state spending, adjusted for inflation, peaked in 2008. In 2011, legislators cut spending for the first time since World War II. Lawmakers said the financial crisis made the cut necessary, but this year when the coffers were full, the Legislature still refused to adjust per-student spending for inflation and are allowing it to slip again.

Rather than spend the additional $5 billion needed to restore per-student spending to 2008 levels, lawmakers cut property and business taxes by $4.4 billion.

On Health Care:
The smartest way for lawmakers to reduce property taxes would have been to expand Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled.

On Taxes:
The big lie is what supporters call a property tax cut. The state did not cut the tax, it merely increased the homestead exemption. Homeowners will not see lower tax bills. Instead, property appreciation and rate increases mean property tax bills will still go up, they just won’t go up as quickly.

Final Analysis:
This is not an issue of Republicans versus Democrats. Texas politicians are divided between those who push an agenda of selfishness and those who promote the common good. Voters disappointed with the Legislature’s performance need to remember what happened this session in November 2016, because lawmakers are betting your frustration will fade.

He’s making the case that what is good for the people of Texas is good for Texas business.  Certainly there’s more common ground to be found with Democrats in Texas on these issues then there is with the tea party.  Not sure what it’s going to take for the business community in Texas to figure that out?

There wasn’t much of anything worthwhile done for the working and middle class Texans.  Wages will stay at their current level.  The high cost of college tuition will stay high.  There will be no improvement of public education.  Those in need of health care, and the hospitals struggling to treat them, are still without help.

Ethics laws were made worse, not better, The brutal death of ethics reform in Texas.

This session was supposed to be a big one for ethics. Abbott even declared it an emergency. What happened? Unlike in 1991, lawmakers didn’t rise to the challenge. Instead, they used the guise of the “ethics session” to protect themselves from public scrutiny and accountability.

We can’t expect the politicians that are elected because of the current system, to reform that system.

But the biggest and cruelest issue, by far, is the GOP’s inability to expand Medicaid, Don’t mess with Medicaid expansion? A lesson from Texas.

Texas is a huge state. It’s also leaving a huge amount of federal money on the table—and not insuring more than 1 million people—because of its opposition to Obamacare.

The decision by Texas to reject expansion of Medicaid, the government health-coverage program for the poor, will prevent the state from receiving an estimated $100 billion in federal cash over a decade, at the same time its hospitals are eating $5.5 billion in annual costs for treating uninsured people, a new National Public Radio report details.

Those uncompensated costs in turn are being covered by taxes and insurance premiums paid by the state’s businesses and residents, who are also footing the bill for expanding Medicaid in 29 states and the District of Columbia that agreed to accept federal funds to offer coverage to nearly all poor adults. The Medicaid expansion states, as a rule, have seen a marked decline in their uninsured rates and the amount of costs their hospitals incur in caring for people without insurance.

This is the government we get when 25% of the voting age population shows up to vote.  Unresponsive to the needs of the vast majority of Texans, and more than willing to take care of the needs of their campaign contributors.

Further Reading:
Lawmakers leaving Austin with little progress to show.
This Lege dramatically disappoints.
Texas Is All for Free Enterprise – Until the Lawmakers Show Up.

06.01.15

TPA Blog Round Up (June 1, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 7:51 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone is dry and safe as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff reviewed how several bad bills met their end in the waning days of the legislative session.

Letters from Texas worries about the possible effect of the Supreme Court taking up the latest Texas redistricting case.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos shines a bright light on the woeful lack of responsible, adult leadership among some in the Texas Legislature. Texas Legislators Who Put the Child in Childish.

Socratic Gadfly, with a hat tip to a fellow TPA blogger and his favorite name for a certain Southern senator, killed the birds of both Rick Santorum and another possible GOP candidate.

Hillary Clinton visits Houston on Thursday to collect an award and raise funds, notes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at the level of racism and xenophobia exhibited by Texas Republicans who deny birth certificates to Texans born to not properly documented mothers.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. There are many Texans that need a government that works for them and not just for business, corporations and wealthy campaign donors. A Windfall For Business, Scraps For The Rest Of Us.

Neil at All People Have Value said that floods in Houston forced people to yield some habitat to Houston wildlife if only for a brief time. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Queso documents flood effects in Wimberley and rounds up a bunch of flood-related resources for those who need them.

Eric Berger tries to explain where all that rain came from.

Texas Vox celebrates an expansion of homeowners’ solar rights.

Ashton Garcia advocates for gender-neutral bathrooms.

The Current introduces us to “Mansplainer: The Statue”.

RG Ratcliffe reminds us that the Lege is hoarding $18 billion of our money.

05.26.15

A Windfall For Business, Scraps For The Rest Of Us

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Had Enough Yet? at 10:41 am by wcnews

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A windfall for business and scraps for the rest of us will be considered a successful session by our elected leaders.

The tax cuts being passed by The Lege can best be described as underwhelming, House Unanimously Backs Property Tax Break.

After an hour of debate that showed a marked lack of enthusiasm for the measure, the Texas House voted unanimously Sunday evening on a property tax break worth about $125 to the average homeowner.

In a 136-0 vote, the House favored Senate Bill 1, which would raise the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 if voters approve an amendment to the state constitution in November. The House also passed Senate Joint Resolution 1, a related measure, on a 138-0 vote.

The measure is one part of a $3.8 billion tax relief package agreed to by the House, Senate and Gov. Greg Abbott last week after months of debate between the chambers over whether to focus efforts on property taxes or the sales tax.

[…]

“We are lessening the pain to a small extent,” [Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton] said. At another point, he noted that the measure was “shifting the tax burden” rather than actually cutting taxes.

Near the end of the debate, Bonnen told lawmakers that the bill was worth supporting as long as proponents didn’t oversell its impact.

“Don’t make the mistake that I have made three times before,” Bonnen said. “Three times we’ve cut property taxes and I’ve gone home and said, ‘I’ve cut your taxes.’” He urged House members to tell constituents that lawmakers did what they could to address the issue but that local entities are where concerns about property taxes should really be focused.

Let’s look at this. The Lege – Democrats included – passed this tax cut just….because. This will have no effect for the majority of Texans. Certainly there are much better uses for $3.8 billion in this state. Education and transportation are two that come to mind immediately.

That’s how far the issues of most Texans have fallen to our bought legislature. Issues like Medicaid expansion, college tuition relief, raising the minimum wage.  They would rather pass a meaningless tax cut, than pass meaningful legislation.

There are many Texans that need a government that works for them and not just for business, corporations and wealthy campaign donors.

05.25.15

TPA Blog Round Up (May 25, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:25 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes the unofficial beginning of summer as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a look behind the scenes at the deal struck between Houston’s Metro and US Rep. John Culberson.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos injects a little Colbert humor into his piece about craven Texas politicians that run away from crucial issues that will impact our future whether we like it or not. Knowing how the Titanic Passengers felt…

Socratic Gadfly discusses how Pew Research’s latest religious survey is another reason Democrats shouldn’t make demographic assumptions about voters, in this case, Hispanic/Latino ones.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how republicans can ignore real needs, promote xenophobia and violate labor standards for the DPS with one act.

Neil at All People Have Value took a walk in Houston Freedman’s Town and in Galveston. He took good pictures. Everyday life is fun and interesting if you make some effort and look around. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Damn near everyone knows that our political systems are rigged. Those on the left those on the right and everyone in between. That frustration is being shown in many different ways all over the political spectrum. Where Left And Right Come Together – Our Political System Is Rigged.

‘Mr. Tesla’, according to Rep. Senfronia Thompson, was one of the biggest losers so far in the Texas Lege’s 84th session. But so has been Rep. Senfronia Thompson, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

From Drake’s star-studded Houston Appreciation Weekend to the historic opening of two new light rail lines, Texas Leftist can say in earnest that it was a great week to be in the Bayou City.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Austin Bakes is fundraising for Nepal.

Juanita wonders what it would take to stem the open carry tide.

Paradise in Hell points out that the “Texas Miracle” has a lot in common with the “North Dakota Miracle”.

RG Ratcliffe interviews conservative video hucksters Hannah Giles and Joseph Basel.

Texas Clean Air Matters wants to know why our state’s leadership is more concerned about the success other states than they are about Texas.

Mark Bennett examines the criminal defense situation in Waco following the Twin Peaks shootings.

The Texas Election Law Blog highlights an actual case of alleged vote fraud in Weslaco, which like every other case of vote fraud we’ve seen would not have been prevented by voter ID.

Mike Collier notes that taxes are going up while schools and roads are going down.

05.19.15

Two Weeks To Go

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary at 10:58 am by wcnews

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While the GOP Lege continues to work on tax cuts for business and scraps for the rest of us, let’s see what else they’re working on in the last two weeks of the session.  This is a short list and there is likely to be some surprises.

The budget is the only thing that must be passed, if not a special session will be required.  If the GOP needs a special session to get their more controversial, social issues passed, don’t be surprised if they use stalled budget negotiations to get that done.

So much for local control, especially as it pertains to oil and gas corporations, Texas Governor signs HB40 into law, guts community rights.

Today Texas Governor Abbott signed HB 40 into law. Written by former ExxonMobil lawyer Shannon Ratliff, the statute forces every Texas municipality wanting common sense limits on oil and gas development to demonstrate its rules are “commercially reasonable”. It effectively overturns a Denton ballot initiative banning fracking that passed last November.

“HB 40 was written by the oil and gas industry, for the oil and gas industry, to prevent voters from holding the oil and gas industry accountable for its impacts,” said Earthworks’ Texas organizer Sharon Wilson. Wilson, who played a key role in the Denton ballot initiative, continued, “It was the oil and gas industry’s contempt for impacted residents that pushed Denton voters to ban fracking in the first place. And now the oil and gas industry, through state lawmakers, has doubled down by showing every city in Texas that same contempt.”

By a 59-41% vote, including 70% of straight ticket Republican voters, the residents of Denton banned hydraulic fracturing within city limits. The ban was a last resort after more than five years of fruitlessly petitioning oil and gas companies, the city, and the state for help.

The wild, wild, west could be coming to a shopping center near you, After Waco Shootout, Lawmakers Continue Open Carry Push.

The day after a deadly confrontation between rival biker gangs in Waco, top Texas lawmakers defended a proposal to loosen the state’s handgun laws.

“This bill does not have anything to do with what went on yesterday,” said state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican who leads the Senate State Affairs Committee, during a previously scheduled hearing on gun legislation.

Some critics told the panel Monday that a proposal to allow concealed handgun license holders to openly carry the firearms would have made the Waco shooting worse. But the panel approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate, where it is likely to have enough votes to pass.

GOP Lege continues their assault on voting rights, Texas lawmakers are busy making it harder to vote.

Another legislative session, another unfortunate attempt by Texas politicians to make it harder to vote. While other states move their registration systems into the 21st century — by putting the onus on the government to add eligible voters to the rolls, or letting citizens sign up online, for example — Texas maintains its sad tradition of disenfranchisement.

One measure (HB 1096) that would make it more difficult for voters to confirm their residency recently cleared the House. Another bill approved by the Senate (SB 1934) would eliminate nonexpiring photo identification cards for the state’s senior citizens. Because unexpired photo IDs or IDs that have been expired no more than 60 days are required to vote, this change would make it even harder for Texas seniors to get their ballots counted. Do we really need to wonder why lawmakers are making these changes?

PDiddie discusses several more issues, Final two weeks of the Texas Lege.

[UPDATE]:  This from Christopher Hooks at the Texas Observer is damn good, The Legislature’s Never-Ending Primary.

And this from a former member of The Lege Ted Lyon, Pulling the covers back in Austin.

05.18.15

TPA Blog Round Up (May 18, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:06 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance doesn’t need hindsight to know that invading Iraq was a tragically stupid decision as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is pleasantly surprised to hear that the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority and US Rep. John Culberson have reached an accord in their longstanding feud over funding for light rail in Houston.

Letters from Texas provides a step-by-step guide to using your hypocrisy to justify your bigotry.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos calls it as she sees it when the U.S. Congress cut Amtrak’s budget within hours of the train wreck outside of Philadelphia last week. Republican Austerity Kills. Literally.

Nonsequiteuse asks you to consider the long game for progressives in Texas, and explains why she’s building progressive infrastructure and working the next generation of leaders through New Leaders Council.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The GOP’s end of session plan for tax cuts is getting near completion, Give It All To Business – The GOP Tax Compromise.

In a roundup of events, Socratic Gadfly says this week in Texas politics was probably even nuttier than normal ? a high bar to clear.

Julian Castro is Hllary Clinton’s pick for running mate, according to Henry Cisneros. That suggests a Latino will also be the vice-presidential nominee of the Republicans. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks that might be the most interesting thing that could liven up an otherwise completely predictable 2016 presidential season.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is surprised that a Republican was so honest about tax cuts being just for the business cronies. Who needs roads, schools, or safety inspections. The rich can buy their own. But, the shrinking middle class and the poor must pay for what’s left.

Neil at All People Have Value posted about 11 pictures he keeps in his phone that involve death. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Clean Air Matters examines what Tesla’s Powerwall home energy storage battery means for Texas.

Better Texas Blog names the least worst way to under-invest in schools, college access and health care systems.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs documents her efforts to get the Legislature to require insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids for children under 18.

The Lunch Tray calls self-regulation of kids’ food advertising a “doomed effort”.

Paradise in Hell warns us that the anti-gay crowd isn’t going anywhere.

BEYONDBones explains why you should care about endangered species.

The Texas Election Law Blog tracks what has happened to election law-related legislation so far this session.

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