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Posts under ‘The great state of Texas’

The dino turtle

Please don’t go extinct. The extremely rare, utterly impressive and scary looking alligator snapping turtle is actually even more rare than first thought, according to a study out of Florida this week. Researchers in in the sunshine state have found that the scaly creature, once common to Houston, is actually just one of three different […]

SA City Council to begin the plastic bag debate

I look forward to seeing what direction they go. City staffers Wednesday plan to recommend to the City Council’s Governance Committee that San Antonio move forward with a ban on single-use plastic and paper bags. The recommendation comes after vetting by the Solid Waste Management Department, which researched policies in other cities across the state […]

Another trip down Demography Lane

From the Sunday Chron op-ed pages: Texas is headed for the ditch, but few people are aware of the state’s perilous path. The demographers have seen the future, though, because it’s foretold in their numbers. And they’ve been sounding the alarm. There hasn’t been much of a public-policy response, so far. Texas could be the […]

Dallas adopts plastic bag fee

A fee, not a ban. Stores in Dallas will charge customers five cents for most kinds of plastic or paper carryout bags, under a measure approved Wednesday by the City Council. At the urging of council member Dwaine Caraway, the council voted 8-6 to assess an “environmental fee” for single-use carryout bags. The five-cent charge […]

New Braunfels can ban is now officially canned

Pending appeal, of course. A permanent injunction issued Friday bars the city from enforcing its controversial ban on disposable containers and cooler-size limits on the Guadalupe and Comal rivers inside the city limits. “You can start drinking from cans and bottles on the rivers, effective immediately,” said Jim Ewbank, attorney for plaintiffs who had sued […]

The Galveston oil spill

This is just awful. While the oil spill resulting from Saturday’s collision between a ship and barge was small by global standards – less than a third of what it would take to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool – the local impact is proving far more than a nuisance. The heavy marine fuel oil is […]

Oh, Buc-ee’s

Ugh. Convenience-store chain Buc-ee’s Ltd. has garnered lots of attention for its clean restrooms. But this week, it’s the owners’ endorsement of tea party favorite Dan Patrick, who faces incumbent David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor, that’s drawn the spotlight. Congressman Joaquin Castro has bashed Buc-ee’s owners over the endorsement and Monday […]

San Antonio plastic bag ban update

Here’s an update on the city of San Antonio’s effort to regulate plastic bag usage, which may include a ban. It’s written by San Antonio City Council member Cris Medina, who is the point person for the effort. Late last year, after multiple conversations with members of the Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee (members are appointed […]

The Texas Miracle that wasn’t

Washington Monthly’s Phillip Longman takes a closer look at the claims made by the likes of Rick Perry about Texas’ economic success, and finds them largely wanting. Here’s a taste: It’s hard to think of any two states more different than Texas and Vermont. For one, Texas has gushers of oil and gas, while Vermont […]

Vaccinating skunks

To prevent rabies, of course. Texas, which has long campaigned for family pets to be vaccinated against rabies, is now attacking from the sky one of the state’s foulest carriers of the disease: skunks. Skunks would obviously put up quite a stink if caught and hauled in to a veterinarian’s office for shots. So the […]

Reintroducing the jaguarundi

Cool. The federal government has established a recovery plan for the jaguarundi, almost four decades since the small wildcat was listed as an endangered species and almost three decades since one was confirmed in the U.S. But don’t expect to see the reddish brown or grey feline returning to what remains of the thick brush […]

Making the push to sign people up for health insurance

Harris County is at ground zero for this national effort. With less than two months remaining to enroll in the health care marketplace, the federal government is focusing outreach efforts on areas with the largest concentrations of uninsured, including Texas’ Harris and Dallas counties. According to a study conducted for The Associated Press, half of […]

Bexar County to offer “plus one” benefits

Good for them. Without referencing same-sex couples, Bexar County on Tuesday agreed to extend health insurance benefits to the unmarried companions of county employees. The “Plus One Qualifying Adult” policy adopted by Commissioners Court attempts to circumvent legal roadblocks that bar the county from offering benefits to workers’ domestic partners. Modeled after an approach used […]

EPA and TCEQ settle lawsuits over flex permits

One less court fight for us and the feds. The EPA and Texas on Wednesday said they have reached a deal over state permits for industrial air pollution, ending a four-year fight that to some had become a symbol of regulatory overreach by the federal government. The agreement comes after the federal agency initially rejected […]

New Braunfels can ban gets canned

Pack your coolers, y’all. The beer can flow again on the Comal River. Opponents of New Braunfels’ prohibition of large coolers and disposable containers — loosely described as a “can ban” on rivers that can host tens of thousands of tourists on any busy summer weekend — say a judge has confirmed their lawsuit claims […]

A brief history of gay marriage legislation in Texas

From TM Daily Post. Gay marriage supporters have made massive strides in a very short amount of time. Less than ten years ago, gay couples couldn’t get married anywhere in the United States. While the progress they did achieve shortly thereafter involved victories, they were handed down by judges—rather than their fellow voters—and the term […]

We need to take better care of our water

We lose way too much of it because our infrastructure is old and in need of replacement. At a time when the Lone Star State is facing a grave water shortage and its population is expected to double by 2060, billions of gallons are hemorrhaging from Texas’ leaky old pipes. The exact loss is unknown […]

Lone Star Santas

I love this story by Lisa Gray. When Jim Fletcher asked his fiancee whether she’d mind if he grew a beard, Madge Boyer didn’t realize what she was getting into. That was in early 2007, not long after he’d played Santa for his civic club Christmas party. In the red suit, he wasn’t just a […]

Merry Christmas from Pancho Claus

If it’s Christmas time, it must be time for a Pancho Claus story. He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it’s a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. […]

Less drought

Good news. After near-normal rainfall during the spring and summer, this fall a number of drought-ending storm systems began to sweep across Texas, particularly the eastern half of the state. “Drought conditions have ended in most of East and Southeast Texas,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist and a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas […]

How about those gators?

They’re doing well, with a little help. The largest reptile in America was nearly extinct by the 1970s. But, efforts to protect the American alligator resulted in a conservation success story that led to its removal from the endangered species list in 1987. The Texas State Aquarium uses that story of conservation and action resulting […]

San Antonio begins plastic bag ban consideration

I very much look forward to seeing how this goes. San Antonio spends about $1.3 million annually cleaning up plastic bags, while an estimated $25 million is spent across the state, [District 7 Councilman Cris] Medina’s Council Consideration Request says. Council members Ray Lopez, Ivy Taylor, Rey Saldaña and Shirley Gonzales have signed Medina’s request, […]

It’s about much more than abortion

Yet another reminder that even if the Legislature had taken no action on abortion since 2011, it still grievously damaged women’s access to healthcare. The closure of nine of 32 family planning clinics in the Rio Grande Valley — a result of the state Legislature’s decision to cut family planning financing in 2011 — has […]

The cities versus the payday lenders

The Observer writes about representatives from Texas cities getting together to talk about how to fight the scourge of payday lenders. The conference panel on Thursday was an opportunity for city officials from around the state to share advice and encouragement. The panel included Austin City Councilman Bill Spelman and legal advisors from Austin, Denton […]

Another way the Affordable Care Act will benefit Texans

Thousands of people in the high-risk pool will get better coverage at lower prices, thanks to Obamacare. At year’s end, Texas will shut down its high-risk insurance pool for some of the state’s sickest residents, pushing participants to find private coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act. And […]

No repeal petition for San Antonio non-discrimination ordinance

Good. Opponents of San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance spread the word at churches and parks about their petition drive to place the policy on a citywide ballot. A few hours before Tuesday’s deadline, they informed city officials that effort had fallen short. Pastor Gerald Ripley, a petition leader, estimated the group collected about 20,000 signatures, well […]

Bag ban update

Having survived legislative meddling, bag bans are back on the agenda in Texas cities. Six months after Austin’s ban on most disposable plastic and paper bags took effect at checkout counters across the city, political fights are raging in Laredo and Dallas to follow suit. In Dallas, the debate over a single-use bag ban (for both paper […]

Enroll SA

San Antonio leads the way. San Antonio city officials and the area’s largest nonprofit health plan have launched separate websites to help residents understand the federally run health insurance marketplace opening Tuesday. The Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance coverage in 2014. The city’s web page can be found at sanantonio.gov/metro-health/AffordableCareAct.aspx. […]

Another poster child for tort “reform”

The Observer asks how well you know your doctor. In late 2010, Dr. Christopher Duntsch came to Dallas to start a neurosurgery practice. By the time the Texas Medical Board revoked his license in June 2013, Duntsch had left two patients dead and four paralyzed in a series of botched surgeries. Physicians who complained about […]

That pollution isn’t our fault!

You have to admire the creativity. Harris County’s problem with tiny, lung-damaging particles in the air can be blamed partly on African dust and crop-clearing fires in Mexico, the state’s environmental agency has told federal regulators. If the Environmental Protection Agency agrees with the state’s finding, then the county would avoid stringent pollution controls and […]

The aftermath of the NDO in San Antonio

The Council vote is over, but don’t expect the fight to be. In four separate public forums since mid-August, more than 1,500 people approached the dais at City Hall and addressed the council, speaking passionately in support of and against the ordinance that drew national attention. Final public comments were heard about three hours before […]

San Antonio council passes non-discrimination ordinance

Well done. The City Council voted 8-3 Thursday to approve adding sexual orientation andgender identity to the list of classes protected from discrimination in San Antonio. Council chambers erupted with emotion — red-clad supporters of the updated nondiscrimination ordinance applauded and offered a standing ovation, while blue-shirted opponents sat silently. People from both factions quickly […]

Pertussis

Not good. State health officials warn that Texas is on track to see the highest number of whooping cough cases it has registered in 50 years if occurrences of the disease continue at the current rate. As of this week, Texas has reported 1,670 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, to the Centers […]

Texas cities embracing bicycles

It’s a good thing. In Fort Worth, the mayor hosts occasional bicycle rides called “Rolling Town Halls.” The Dallas City Council could may soon require new businesses to set aside space for bicycle parking. Over in El Paso, officials are developing plans for a bike-share system, which is expected to be the fifth such program […]