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Texas House Passes Tax Cut For Chewing Tobacco—I Am Not Making This Up

I am not making this up—As funds for education and vital state services in Texas are being slashed to the bone in the ongoing legislative session, the Republican-controlled  Texas House of Representatives has passed a tax cut for the purchase of chewing tobacco.

From the Austin American-Statesman

“Members of the Texas House on Wednesday approved a bill to lower a tax on Red Man and other brands of loose-leaf chewing tobacco. When Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland , laid out House Bill 2599, one freshman House member from Central Texas couldn’t believe his ears. “I just had to clarify. It’s cutting taxes to chewing tobacco?” a shocked Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, asked from the floor. Isaac was the only member to question the measure, which passed 83-53. “We just created an incentive for people to use cancer-causing products,” Isaac said after the bill was approved. “When we have the fiscal problems that we have, it’s wrong to be cutting taxes on products like chewing tobacco.”

(Above—Tobacco flower. Photo by William Rafti. Here are facts about the cultivation of tobacco.)   

Already, the Texas House is considering a tax break for the purchase of yachts.

Texas is first in the nation in percentage of people without health insurance. Texas is fighting the federal health care reform law which will expand coverage to millions of Americans.

Yet at the same time, Texas is considering making it more affordable for people to use chewing tobacco.

How any person of any ideological outlook can see this overall course of action as advisable.

Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about the use of chewing tobacco.

The Mayo Clinic does not think that using chewing tobacco is a very good idea.

My friend John Coby has written about this tobacco tax cut at his blog Bay Area Houston.

(Below–People have been chewing tobacco for a long time. They also have been getting sick from chewing tobacco for a long time. Here is a history of the use of tobacco.)  

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carol Kent To Be Reelected In Texas House District 102

(Blogger’s Note–Brilliant Harvard Kennedy School of Government graduate and Burnt Orange Report blogger Phillip Martin has teamed up with Annie’s List to report on some of the most competitive 2010 races for the Texas House of Representatives. Phillip has been nice enough to allow me share these profiles with Texas Liberal readers.  Today’s post covers House District 102.  This district is in the Dallas area. Above you see the Plaza Theater in Garland. This fine structure is part of District 102. The Plaza was built in the 1940’s and has recently undergone an art deco refurbishment. The Plaza can be rented for your upcoming event.)

Candidate PagesRep. Carol Kent website, on Facebook, on Twitter

Candidate Pages: Stefani Carter website, on Facebook, on Twitter

District Overview: The Numbers, The Issues, and the Candidates

Representative Carol Kent completed her first session in the Texas Legislature on the heels of her impressive win in 2008. In 2009, she was named ‘Freshman of the Year’ by the Women’s Health Caucus and is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Victims’ Rights and Violence Against Women. District 102 is situated squarely in North Dallas and part of the city of Garland. Traditionally a tough district for Democrats, Obama carried this Republican-leaning outpost with split 50.2% in 2008. Rep. Carol Kent ousted a 20 year Republican incumbent in 2008 with 53% of the vote and will face a tough challenge this year as well. Expect this race to focus on utility rates, homeowner’s insurance and Stefani Carter’s credibility — or severe lack thereof.

If there is a worse Republican candidate running in a “challenge race” for the Texas House, I don’t know who that would be. Consider the following:

If there is anything redeeming in Stefani Carter’s campaign, it’s that it will be over in eight weeks.

Why Rep. Carol Kent Returns Next Year

Rep. Carol Kent has the experience and the support to run a professional campaign. She’s hit the ground running and is aggressively working to communicate her impressive legislative records with voters in the district. Stefani Carter, on the other hand, is still lagging well-behind Kent with cash-on-hand and may not have the resources to compete at the level required. Carter’s mountain of scandal will hurt her, as well. Carter has also been making what the Dallas Morning News calls “bizarre” claims, noting that her staff has called 911 on numerous occasions claiming they feared for their safety because a suspicious car was parked outside their campaign office.

One campaign is desperate — Stefani Carter.

June 30 Campaign Finance Report:

HD 102: Kent vs. Carter Contributions
Expenditures
Cash on Hand
Rep. Carol Kent (D)
$193,494 $67,370 $253,007
Stefani Carter (R)
$149,013 $95,436 $87,261
Kent’s Advantage
$44,481 $165,746

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Trust The Private Sector With Your Retirement?—Henry Hudson Would Liven Up Any Saloon

Picture Of The Day–After driving by the place for many years, I recently stopped at Henry Hudson’s Pub near the intersection of Highway 6 and 290 here in Houston.

I had a beer.

I might not have noticed the place but for the fact it has the name of the great explorer Henry Hudson.

If I had my way, all bars and taverns would be named after figures from history.

The Daniel Webster Inn. Oliver Cromwell’s Saloon. Plato’s Pub. Elizabeth Cady Stanton Bar & Grill.

Driving past Henry Hudson’s Pub over the years, I had wondered many times if they had a picture of Henry Hudson in the place. I did not see such a picture.

If my name were Chester Arthur and I opened a bar, I’d hang up a picture of Chester Arthur.

Here are some facts about Henry Hudson from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Below is a drawing of Henry Hudson. I think he would liven up any watering hole.

Link Of The Day—Nobel Prize winning economist  and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that Social Security is in good shape and that Republican efforts to cut Social Security are about hatred of government instead of strong public policy.

Does anybody really think the private sector will look after them in retirement? How could anybody think such a thing?

Texas Link Of The Day—The Austin American Statesman says that Democrats have at least a decent shot of winning control of the Texas House of Representatives in 2010.

Blogger’s Note—Because I have some other projects I want to take on, I’ll be offering up shorter and more formulaic posts for the remainder of August. These posts will still be quite good and will merit your visiting the blog each day. Yet at the same time, shorter posts will allow me the time to accomplish other objectives. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

August 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Republican Majority Should Elect Speaker Of Texas House

Tom Craddick, an autocratic far-right extremist, has been deposed as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. He does not have the votes within the House to win election for another term as Speaker.

The Texas House has 76 Republicans and 74 Democrats 

Two candidates, both Republicans, appear to remain as the options for election by the House as Speaker. One candidate is Joe Straus of San Antonio. The other is John Smithee of Amarillo.

( Update—Mr. Smithee has pulled out and the race appears to be over. While it’s a crazy process we have here in Texas, let’s hope that Mr. Straus is really change for the better.)

Mr. Straus appears the more moderate of the two choices. The overwhelming majority of the 74 House Democrats have pledged to support his bid. He also has the support of as many 16 Republicans. Mr. Smithee has the support of the clear majority of Republican members, but few, if any, Democrats. As it stands now, the numbers favor Mr. Straus.  

It’s quite possible the elevation of Mr. Straus would move the House away from the right and towards the center. Mr. Smithee appears to be a Craddick-lite option. 

Yet on Election Day last November, Texans elected a majority of Republicans to the House. That is what was decided at the ballot box. It is the majoroty Republican party that should decide who serves as Speaker.

I believe in political parties. They provide a shorthand for voters to sift through the great number of often complex issues any modern governing body faces. It’s nearly impossible for a person who has to work for a living, or who has a family to raise, to have a clear sense of all the issues up for debate at any given point.

On Election Day, ideally, we look at what party a candidate represents, as well as his or her stands on the issues most important to us and our fellow citizens. 

We know that a Democrat from a rural area may have different views on some questions than a Democrat from an urban area. We know that a Republican from Maine may have conflicting views in contrast to a Republican from Alabama. But we also know that in many cases there is a set of core values that informs members of the same political party regardless of other differences. 

We also know, or trust, that when it comes to organizing a legislative chamber, members of the same party will come together to elect a Speaker and other officers. 

Where party structure breaks down, what’s left is behind-the-scenes deal cutting that is often far less transparent than party ID.  When things go wrong, voters are left to guess where to place the blame as legislators hide under whatever label or excuse suits them at the moment.

It’s bad enough that our Texas legislature meets only once every two years. Or that members are not paid a living wage so only a well-connected few can serve. Or that a one-third minority can hold up action in the State Senate. The least we can ask is that the parties we vote for, and the men and women who represent these parties and the ideas behind the parties, act in a coherent and accountable way once seated in Austin.

Once a legislative session begins, members can easily work across the aisle on various bills and proposals. There’s nothing wrong with that. But a basic coherence must exist in the structure of a legislative chamber for voters to be able to make sense of the records of both political parties and individaul members.

Here’s hoping that between now  and the opening of the legislative session on January 13,  the majority party as elected by the people of Texas gets its’ act together.

This is the position I will hold on that better day, not so far in the future,when Democrats control the Texas House.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment