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Posts under ‘The great state of Texas’

Health insurance exchange open enrollment, Year 3

The challenge, in a nutshell. In rural Borden County, 12 people signed up for Obamacare this year. Livid over the government telling them they must buy something and loath to take anything that looks like a “handout,” the uninsured here are likely to stay that way. As Obamacare’s third open enrollment season began Sunday, this […]

Droughts will always be with us

Remember how wet and rainy it was earlier this year? It ain’t like that now, though we do have some rain coming later this week. After an uncharacteristically wet early-summer across Texas, the Lone Star state’s weather has turned dry since early August. An estimated 14 million Texans are now living in drought-affected areas, with […]

We’re still #1!

In uninsured people. For the first time in more than a decade, Texas’ uninsured rate dipped below 20 percent, analysts said [recently] following the release of U.S. Census data. Slightly more than 5 million Texans were uninsured in 2014 — a 700,000 decrease from the year before. That represented a 3-point dip in the percentage […]

The dark side of SpaceX

Be careful what you wish for. People who live in Boca Chica Village, all 26 of them, knew Elon Musk’s SpaceX company would put the South Texas town on the map after it was selected last year as the world’s first commercial rocket-launch site. Now, many want SpaceX gone and their obscurity back. The residents […]

Carrizo cane and French wasps

I love stories like this. They’ve burned it, bulldozed it, hacked it and poisoned it. Now they want to try wasps – imported from France, no less. The target is carrizo cane, a bamboo-like reed that’s a fearsome enemy of officers patrolling the Texas-Mexico border. Dense stands have camouflaged stash houses, half-ton steers and a […]

Hempstead landfill would indeed hurt the environment

Raise your hand if this surprises you. Pintail Landfill developers backpedaled from arguments that their proposed dump site outside Hempstead would not harm the environment, agreeing for the first time this summer that their review of groundwater under the property was flawed. Environmental testing by opponents in preparation for a November hearing found that groundwater […]

The demography of the uninsured in Texas

Another look at those who have been helped by Obamacare in Texas, and those who would be helped if the state wasn’t actively resisting. The states’s uninsured continue to be most likely Hispanic, middle-aged, with low incomes and without a college degree, according to a continuing study tracking the implementation of the health care law […]

It’s a little easier to run for a statewide judicial office now

From the Quorum Report: In a change that flew under the radar for most and was signed by Gov. Abbott, candidates for statewide judicial offices will no longer be required to gather petition signatures from around the state before they can file. One of the changes quietly made by the Texas Legislature this year will […]

Please don’t feed the gators

Should be obvious, but apparently not to everyone. In the time it took for something to hit the water and the unseen creature lying in wait to snap at it, the legend of the “killer gator” was born. It didn’t take much longer for the story to spread around the world, from the small Texas […]

Revisiting birth certificates

This is one of those next steps that needs to be taken. After the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, some gay and lesbian couples in Texas have raised questions about another legal document – birth certificates. They want Texas birth certificates to list two parents’ names, even if a child has two moms or […]

Whither the monarch butterfly

We should try to keep them from going extinct. That would be bad. The state’s chief financial officer has approved a $300,000 grant to investigate why the number of monarch butterflies is declining in Texas, and what can be done about it. The bottom line for Comptroller Glenn Hegar, however, is less about butterflies than […]

Rusk County Clerk sets an example

I respect this. The Rusk County Commissioners Court on Monday formally accepted the resignation of County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle, apparently the first Texas elected official to quit office rather than abide by the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. “Before taking office, I was required to take an oath to uphold the laws of […]

Hempstead landfill update

From the inbox: After several postponements, the Contested Case Hearing on the proposed Pintail Landfill permit has been set for November 2, 2015, in Austin. Assuming no further delays, the case will be heard by two Administrative Law Judges with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The trial is expected to take about two […]

Legislators ask for a task force to review Capitol monuments to the Confederacy

Fine by me. On the same day that the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol grounds, five Democratic lawmakers asked Gov. Greg Abbott to consider the appropriateness of the Confederate monuments at their own Capitol. In a letter sent Monday to Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker […]

Encroaching on Sam Houston National Forest

The march of development continues apace. All over the Texas Piney Woods, along farm-to-market roads and state highways, multicolored signs hawk real estate – small plots of paradise among the tall trees. The billboards offer “gated acreage” and “room to breathe,” promoting rural charm not far from urban amenities. But in the process of subdividing […]

Georgetown goes all in on renewable energy

From ThinkProgress. 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 […]

We still face water shortages

Yes, we’ve had a lot of rain lately. No, that hasn’t solved all our water problems. The recent rainfall that drenched much of Houston and the state was thought to put the drought and the state’s water supply concerns at ease as summer approaches. Texas, known for multiyear droughts, now has many lakes and reservoirs […]

Good news for Texas lakes

All that rain has had a positive effect. Statewide, estimates from the National Weather Service indicate the first four months of this year have been the fifth wettest since 1895 and the wettest since 1997. So far this year, estimates show the state has gotten 11.5 inches of precipitation, or about 160 percent of the […]

House passes stricter judicial bypass bill

Unfortunate but expected. After about four hours of debate and a barrage of failed amendments by Democrats, the House passed House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria on a 98-47 vote. The measure would enact several restrictions on “judicial bypass,” the legal process that allows some minors to obtain abortions without […]

Texans oppose LGBT discrimination

From Texas Wins: Nearly two-thirds of likely voters in Texas support protecting gay and transgender Texans from discrimination, according to a new poll released today. The statewide survey also found that a strong majority of voters believe that discrimination against gay and transgender Texans is a problem. View the findings of the poll here: […]

Texas’ uninsured rate drops dramatically

Amazing what can happen when a government actually tries to solve a problem, isn’t it? The rate of Texans without health insurance has fallen 8 percentage points since enrollment in the federal Affordable Care Act began, according to a new study. Texas’ sky-high rate of adults without health coverage — previously about 25 percent, the […]

Texans like having health insurance

Who knew? A first-of-its-kind survey asking Texans if health insurance is necessary found an overwhelming majority believe having coverage is critical for them and their families, with 50 percent calling it “absolutely essential.” The Texas Medical Center commissioned Nielsen to survey attitudes surrounding health insurance ranging from its importance, what you would give up to […]

AirBnB in Texas

The Rivard Report offers a useful overview of this growing service. With success comes regulation and Airbnb, the wildly popular “sharing economy” website that allows users to rent out portions of their home to adventuresome travelers, has had more than its share of success. Recently valued at $13 billion, the company has more than 340 […]

Just a reminder, we still need to use less water

In particular, we need to water our lawns less. Even Texans with the greenest of lawns water them too much, many landscape experts say. And if everyone would turn on the sprinklers only twice a week — still probably more than necessary — the water savings would be significant, according to a report from the […]

Rural hospitals

If this story was meant to evoke my sympathy, I’m afraid it failed. Since the hospital closed in Paducah, a town 30 miles to the north, patients in Guthrie have 60 long miles to travel to Childress for care. It’s a feeling of isolation that has crept up on other rural corners of the state […]

We’re not #1 any more!

Looks like we’re going to need some new applause lines for our elected officials. When it comes to job growth, some Rust Belt states are gaining an edge on Texas amid the fallout from plunging oil prices. In January, Texas lost its spot as the nation’s top job creator. The state ranked No. 4 with […]

Lots of newly insured folks in Texas

Thanks, Obamacare! More than half of 1.2 million Texans who enrolled in private health insurance plans through the federally operated marketplace this year were new customers, according to a government report released Tuesday. The analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 57 percent of Texans who enrolled in 2015 – about […]

Economic segregation in cities

From Wonkblog: Concentrated poverty is one of the biggest problems facing cities today, as more of the urban poor become isolated in neighborhoods where the people around them are poor, too. Growing economic segregation across cities, though, is also shaped by a parallel, even stronger force: concentrated wealth. A new analysis from Richard Florida and […]

Waller County approves landfill lawsuit settlement

Missed this when it first came out. After two fraught years of legal battle, the lawsuit over a proposed Waller County landfill came to a quiet close Friday with a deal that ensures the civil case against the county will not be appealed but that does not prevent the landfill from being built. The county […]

Plano ERO repeal petitions ruled invalid

Wow. The City of Plano has determined that a recently circulated Equal Rights petition is invalid and will not move forward. Plano’s City Secretary was unable to certify the petition because it failed to meet State and local requirements for validation. On Dec. 8, 2014, the Plano City Council approved an Equal Rights Ordinance, expanding […]

Plastic bag bans work

Someone tell Greg Abbott. Shortly before being sworn in as governor, Greg Abbott called for doing away with local bans on plastic bags, fracking and tree-cutting that he says amount to a “patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.” Austin has bans on plastic bags and one of […]

One point two million Obamacare signups in Texas

Not too shabby. McCarter was one of nearly 1.2 million Texans who signed up or were re-enrolled in health coverage before open enrollment ended Sunday. The newly released numbers show Texas ranking behind only Florida in the number of people it signed up or re-enrolled in coverage among the 37 states that rely on the […]

Approaching a million Obamacare signups in Texas

We are well ahead of last year’s pace. More than 256,000 Houston-area residents have selected plans or been re-enrolled in coverage through the health insurance marketplace mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and federal and local health officials and experts believe a last-minute surge could significantly increase the numbers before the 2015 open-enrollment period ends […]

918K and counting

Obamacare enrollment numbers in Texas keep going up. More than 7 million people, including 918,890 Texans, have selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled in coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, according to government data released Wednesday. […] But the figures released Wednesday aren’t separated between new enrollments and […]