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State Stories

Texas Lawyer - March 30, 2015

Bills: Promoting Green Fracking Through Tax Credits

As Texas continues to deal with stubborn drought conditions, one of the biggest concerns related to fracking is the large consumption of freshwater used in drilling oil and gas wells. "Two to five million gallons of water may be necessary to fracture one horizontal well in a shale formation," according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's research. Fortunately, a number of new fracking techniques have been developed that avoid the extensive fresh water consumption and pollution associated with traditional fracking. For example, Canadian company GasFrac employs a gel-based medium for well injection, which is created with propane and other common chemicals. And Halliburton and GE have pioneered new technologies to cleanse and distill, and then reuse treated wastewater for fracking.

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Clean Technica - March 27, 2015

What Dow Chemical’s Huge Wind Deal Says About Our Energy Landscape

Recently, The Dow Chemical Company signed an agreement to purchase 200 MW of wind output from a wind farm under development by a subsidiary of Bordas Wind Energy in South Texas. The wind power will power the company’s Freeport, Texas manufacturing site. Everything about this announcement is huge: Freeport is the largest integrated chemical manufacturing complex in the Western Hemisphere. The wind farm will encompass nearly 35,000 acres of land, and annually supply an amount of electricity that could power more than 55,000 Texas homes. Dow is the first chemical company in the US to power a manufacturing site with renewable energy at this scale.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - March 27, 2015

Texas bills seek outside investigations of police shootings

As national unrest swells over police officers not indicted in high-profile shootings, a Texas House panel on Thursday heard testimony on bills seeking to calm public concerns of bias. Officer-involved incidents are investigated by the law enforcement officer's local district attorney's office. But the very same prosecutors work closely and frequently with local police, leading some to draw the conclusion that the two are on the same team. To eliminate that perception, bills by Democratic Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. and Ron Reynolds would require the incidents to be investigated by someone else. Both were left pending in the newly-formed House Select Committee on Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement.

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San Antonio Express News - March 27, 2015

Lawmakers eye ban on powdered alcohol

Touted by its creator as the best way to guzzle a stiff drink on the go, a controversial powdered alcohol product could hit store shelves as early as this summer with flavors such as Cosmopolitan and Powderita. But Texas lawmakers, drawing comparisons to substances such as designer drugs and alcoholic energy drinks, already are working to ban powdered alcohol before it ever gets sold in the Lone Star State, fearing that it will spur a new wave of underage consumption. It is marketed under the brand name Palcohol, and a proposal by state Rep. Charlie Geren takes aim at the product by classifying powdered alcohol as an “illicit beverage,” making it illegal to sell, serve or possess in Texas.

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San Antonio Current - March 27, 2015

Texas Rep. Molly White Thinks She Can Undermine The Supreme Court

Talk about a waste of time. Texas Representative Molly White, of Belton, filed a bill in an attempt to preemptively undermine the highest court in the United States. Clearly, White has failed to understand one of the most basic lessons in Government 101. According to her landmark legislation, the Texas Constitution, which was amended to ban same-sex marriage, will "apply regardless of whether a federal court ruling or other federal law provides that a prohibition against the creation or recognition of a same-sex marriage or a civil union is not permitted under the United States Constitution." Really?

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San Antonio Express News - March 27, 2015

Casey: Jefferson would be perfect Obama nominee

I generally avoid offering assistance to U.S. presidents. Thousands of reporters, pundits and politicians in Washington perform that patriotic function. But there is one area in which President Barack Obama may need help. The issue concerns the possibility that an opening may occur on the U.S. Supreme Court before he leaves office. There is no guarantee, of course. Liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg turned 82 last week and has had cancer. But she remains vigorous and insists she has no intention of stepping down soon. Conservative Antonin Scalia turned 79 two weeks ago but also appears full of vim and vinegar. Frequent swing-voter Anthony Kennedy is 78.

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Houston Chronicle - March 27, 2015

Cervantes: Abbott's cautious path after FBI probe of state agency

It’s often said that the legacy of former Gov. Rick Perry will be with Texas for years to come, mostly because his long tenure allowed him appoint and re-appoint various state agency heads who were very willing to do this policy bidding. But as Perry now barnstorms early primary states for his likely 2016 run, Gov. Greg Abbott is left to handle a mammoth scandal at the Health and Human Services Commission that poses some risky choices for the new governor. We now know that federal investigators have directly interviewed officials at the commission, though the agency’s executive commissioner, Kyle Janek, has not been contacted, as of Friday. The FBI had been looking into the HHSC’s no-bid 21CT deal since the beginning of the year, but a Janek aide officially confirmed the probe to The Houston Chronicle on Friday.

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KVUE - March 28, 2015

Texas Capitol unveils Vietnam Veterans Monument

A monument unveiled on the Texas Capitol grounds represents an appreciation for the sacrifices of Vietnam War veterans, Gov. Rick Perry told a large gathering Saturday. Perry spoke near the Vietnam Veterans Monument for an event coinciding with the 41st anniversary of the last U.S. troops leaving South Vietnam. About a half-million Texans served in the war, with more than 3,400 losing their lives and 105 still missing in action. The monument on the northeast side of the Capitol grounds joins others honoring Texans who have fought in other wars, dating back to the Texas Revolution.

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Law 360 - March 27, 2015

Patent Reform — Texas Style

On the heels of initiatives by other states, Texas may soon have its own statute addressing demand letters that allege patent infringement. Senate Bill No. 1187 was filed on March 10, 2015, by Sen. Van Taylor, and referred to the State Affairs Committee.[1] The bill amends the Texas Business & Commerce Code by adding Chapter 2005, titled "Claims of Patent Infringement." In its current iteration, the bill is crafted to protect a “Texas resident,” defined as a person who resides in or is doing business in Texas.[2] Other salient provisions are summarized below.

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San Angelo Standard Times - March 28, 2015

Bill would invest more state savings

Lately the legislative session has been all about the money. Texas lawmakers want massive tax cuts, in the billions, so that individual homeowners see property tax savings of a couple of hundred dollars a year and so that at least small businesses see several thousand in savings. There is so much money that the stalwartly conservative Senate, not exactly a chamber of spendthrifts, wants to not count tax cuts and debt payments as spending so that their spending doesn’t go over the limit. The Senate recently approved around $4.6 billion in tax cuts, but the money flow doesn’t stop there. The House is reportedly going to present $4.8 billion in tax cuts, and the chairman of the public education committee wants to set up public education so that it gets $3 billion extra altogether.

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Valley Morning Star - March 30, 2015

International rail bridge set to open

Lights were being tested Saturday night, cameras were being installed, grounds were being cleared of debris and the floors were to be waxed, all leading to Tuesday’s expected completion of the first international rail bridge to be constructed between the United States and Mexico in 106 years, Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda Jr. said. Although a series of complex twists and turns stalled and delayed the construction of the West Rail International Bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros, the project never derailed.

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The Atlantic - March 30, 2015

Epps: Are There Limits to Government Speech?

We the people love beef. Don’t believe me? Listen to the late Robert Mitchum, or whiskey-voiced cowboy star Sam Elliott: “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” Did you see Uncle Sam’s lips moving? The “what’s for dinner” campaign was the creation of an obscure federal panel called the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which uses a $1-per-head tax on beef cattle to encourage Americans to eat lots of cow products. The spirit of the Beef Board hovered over the Supreme Court last week as the justices considered the Texas license-plate case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

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Texas Tribune - March 29, 2015

Judson: School choice will help rural Texas, too

2015 may finally be the year for school choice in Texas. With the strong support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas could join 24 other states and the District of Columbia in passing school choice legislation that would allow parents to use state education dollars to send their children to private schools that better suit their needs. Some of the contenders this year include state Sen. Donna Campbell’s Senate Bill 276, state Sen. Larry Taylor’s SB 4 and state Rep. Gilbert Peña’s House Bill 4106. Though such proposals enjoy the support of many GOP lawmakers and voters, opposition among rural Republicans is stirring tension and impatience at the grassroots and party leadership level. And if Texas lawmakers don’t take action soon, we may reach a political breaking point.

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McAllen Monitor - March 30, 2015

Rodriguez, Bell: Give full authority for Texas RNs

With about one in four people uninsured, Texas ranks last in the number of residents with health insurance. This dubious distinction, coupled with poor use of limited resources, compounds the delivery of health care to a rapidly growing population. Additionally, despite low reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers, Texas’ Medicaid budget continues to grow. One way to address the access and budgetary healthcare crisis is to restructure the manner of medical delivery to more efficiently use resources in our provider system. Granting what is called full practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) would go a long way toward alleviating the crisis.

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Houston Chronicle - March 30, 2015

Abbott review: HHSC needs change in leadership or structure

The sprawling state agency that oversees all health and human services in Texas is in a state of turmoil that can only be fixed with "significant changes either in management structure or in executive leadership," according to an independent review ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott. The review, which the governor requested earlier this year after a $110 million no-bid contract collapsed in scandal, said there were issues with the contract, but described them as only a "symptom" of larger problems that long have simmered and recently have surged. Among other recommendations, the review suggested that the state slow down on plans to further consolidate the massive agency, which has an annual budget of about $30 billion.

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PennEnergy - March 30, 2015

NRG seeks Texas approval to buy power plant being moved from Mississippi

NRG Texas Power LLC applied March 27 at the Public Utility Commission of Texas for approval of the proposed purchase of all of the issued and outstanding membership interests in PHR Holdings LLC from BTEC New Albany LLC, which currently owns I00% of the membership interests in PHR. PHR owns a peaking facility, comprised of six General Electric (NYSE: GE) natural gas-fired combustion turbine generating units with a combined total summer net capacity of 388 MW. That facility is being transported from Mississippi and reassembled by BTEC at the site of a former generation station located in Texas City, Texas, and owned by NRG Texas.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - March 30, 2015

Drilling bill revised to address concern from cities

A rewritten bill designed to calm fears from cities across the state about possibly losing control over urban drilling while still granting ultimate regulatory power to the state easily won approval Monday in an influential Texas House committee. The House Natural Resources Committee voted 10-1, with one member present but not voting, to approve a modified House Bill 40, which was wildly debated last week, that spells out that a city can adopt ordinances regulating surface operations such as fire and emergency response, traffic, lights and noise. A city also can impose “reasonable” setback requirements.

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Dallas Morning News - March 30, 2015

Jones: Texas business wants to avoid noisy debate over religious freedom, like Indiana’s

Now it’s clearer why Texas business leaders got to Rep. Jason Villalba and asked him to deep-six his religious freedom amendment. Look at Indiana, and how Gov. Mike Pence sweated under questioning by George Stephanopoulos yesterday. Despite efforts to go on the offensive against overheated rhetoric, Pence was in the position of denying repeatedly that his state would become ground zero for anti-gay discrimination. The governor faulted media coverage for distorting the impact of Indiana’s new law and focusing on noisy complainants who found a national platform. All that noise, of course, could be bad for business.

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Dallas Morning News - March 30, 2015

‘It’ll be a bloody day on the House floor’ in Texas budget debate

The House is bracing for a marathon debate on Tuesday over a $209.8 billion, two-year state budget that parks more than $19 billion on the sidelines. House GOP leaders are hoarding at least $4 billion of the extra money to underwrite tax breaks for consumers and businesses, through a possible sales tax reduction and an across-the-board rate cut for businesses on their franchise or “margins tax” bills. But Democrats and many education groups want to see more funding for struggling public schools, while lobbyists for big business have urged bolder moves to ease road congestion and repair crumbling infrastructure.

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Dallas Morning News - March 30, 2015

Texas health commission needs ‘significant changes’ in leadership, report says

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission needs “significant changes” in its leadership or management structure, according to a committee appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott. The panel’s much-anticipated report, released Monday, is the latest blow for a troubled agency and its executive commissioner, Kyle Janek. The health commission has come under fire of late for, among other things, questionable decisions made in the issuance of multimillion-dollar contracts. The scathing report described an enterprise in “quiet turmoil,” one that “lacks a clear vision for its future and a strategic direction,” and one where “too often … decisions are reactive.”

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Dallas Morning News - March 31, 2015

Bill would tighten ethics rules governing Texas officials

A Senate committee heard testimony Monday on a bill to tighten the ethics rules governing Texas officials. The bill, filed by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, would prohibit officials from lobbying, prohibit legislators from becoming paid lobbyists immediately upon leaving office, deny retirement benefits to politicians found to have been corrupt, and expand disclosure requirements. “We would like to make sure that elected officials are beyond question, beyond reproach,” Taylor said.

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San Antonio Express News - March 30, 2015

Senate approves system to grade schools from A to F

Individual public schools would receive letter grades from A to F to measure their performance, much like their students, under a bill tentatively approved by the Texas Senate on Monday. The measure is a key element of school accountability reform championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other conservative Republicans who control the Senate, but was hotly contested by Democrats and various education groups who insist it will target minority and poor-neighborhood schools. If approved by the Senate in a final vote on Tuesday, as expected, it will go to the House for consideration, where opposition appears to be much stronger.

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San Antonio Express News - March 30, 2015

Watchdog group says Collin County DA is stonewalling on Paxton case

The head of a public watchdog group said he again will urge law enforcement to launch a probe into Attorney General Ken Paxton’s admitted violation of state securities laws after learning that the Collin County district attorney’s office, headed by a Paxton friend and business partner, has taken no action in the case. “The Collin County District Attorney is just stonewalling,” said Texans for Public Justice Executive Director Craig McDonald, who added that no one from District Attorney Greg Willis’ office had informed his group the case had stalled or told him how to proceed. “Within the week, I will do something in Collin County, once I find out what I have to do.”

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Houston Chronicle - March 30, 2015

Abbott report blasts health agency leadership

The sprawling state agency that oversees all health and human services in Texas is in a state of turmoil that can only be fixed with significant changes in its management structure or its executive leadership, according to an independent review ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott. Despite the report's specific criticism of his leadership, embattled Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, a former Republican state senator from Houston, still may get to keep his job. Janek has weathered months of criticism, including calls for his resignation, since a $110 million no-bid Medicaid fraud detection contract collapsed in scandal late last year.

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Houston Chronicle - March 30, 2015

Group to re-file complaint against Paxton in home county

The head of a public watchdog group said he again will urge law enforcement to launch a probe into Attorney General Ken Paxton's admitted violation of state security laws after learning that the Collin County District Attorney's Office, headed by a Paxton friend and business partner, has taken no action in the case. "The Collin County district attorney is just stonewalling," said Texans for Public Justice Executive Director Craig McDonald, who added that no one from District Attorney Greg Willis' office had informed his group the case had stalled or told him how to proceed. "Within the week, I will do something in Collin County, once I find out what I have to do." Willis' office last week said it was not investigating the allegations against Paxton, despite the case being referred to it by the Travis County District Attorney's Office in late January.

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Houston Chronicle - March 30, 2015

Pharmacists' group discourages providing execution drugs

A leading association for U.S. pharmacists adopted a policy Monday that discourages its members from providing drugs for use in lethal injections — a move that could make carrying out such executions even harder for states with the death penalty. The declaration approved by American Pharmacists Association delegates at their annual meeting held in San Diego this year says the practice of providing lethal-injection drugs is contrary to the role of pharmacists as health care providers. The association lacks legal authority to bar its members from selling execution drugs, but its policies set pharmacists' ethical standards.

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Austin American Statesman - March 30, 2015

After scathing report, will Kyle Janek keep his job?

As the Health and Human Services Commission continues to face fierce criticism for contracting problems, one pressing question remains unanswered: Will Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek keep his job? A few legislators have called for his ouster, but most state leaders haven’t publicly discussed Janek’s future. But if history is any indication, Janek might weather the storm. Albert Hawkins, who held the commission’s top job for six years, withstood a flurry of high-profile controversies before retiring in 2009.

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Austin American Statesman - March 30, 2015

Texas House to consider hundreds of budget amendments

A plan to fix Texas’ public school finance system and distribute voter-approved road funding. More money for prekindergarten and bans on both private school vouchers and benefits for same-sex partners of teachers and other school district employees. Before voting on its budget proposal Tuesday, the Texas House could consider more than 350 amendments to the two-year spending plan that have been filed. Many of the proposed changes would add to the $210 billion budget the House Appropriations Committee kicked to the lower chamber last week with a unanimous vote; Others would bar funding to certain entities unless they abide by certain rules.

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Austin American Statesman - March 30, 2015

No-bid 21CT deal a ‘policy fiasco,’ Greg Abbott’s strike force concludes

A team handpicked by Gov. Greg Abbott to investigate the 21CT contract scandal has concluded the firm’s no-bid deal to detect Medicaid fraud was a “policy fiasco” that “skirted the limits” of the law. The so-called strike force conducted 50 interviews and determined the deal with Austin tech company 21CT had been inappropriately awarded by the Health and Human Services Commission, whose leaders “exercised judgment so poor” that they placed the agency’s credibility at risk.

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Austin American Statesman - March 30, 2015

Public Integrity Unit bill stalls in Senate

A Republican bill to transfer the Public Integrity Unit out of Travis County has snagged in the Senate, where the legislation does not have enough support to force a floor vote — at least for now. The author of Senate Bill 10, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, acknowledged Monday that she is still trying to line up support from Republican senators but added that she remains confident of success. “I’m close,” Huffman said, raising the possibility of a vote this week. “We’re almost there.”

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Longview News Journal - March 27, 2015

Local officials react to bills aimed at synthetic drugs

Longview and Gregg County officials were pleased Wednesday by the news that the Texas Senate unanimously passed three bills designed to stop the sale of synthetic drugs in the state. The bills — two authored by Republican state Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock and one by Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman of Houston — would broaden the range of synthetic drugs that could not be sold, manufactured or possessed in Texas. "This is a positive step for us just to have a uniform bill that all cities can use to rid our streets of this poison," Longview Mayor Jay Dean said.

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Bloomberg - March 30, 2015

We Just Got Some Ugly Numbers out of Texas

There's been a lot of debate about how well the Texas economy will hold up in light of collapsing oil prices. While it's just one datapoint, the latest Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index shows some trouble in the Lone Star State. The general business activity index declined from -11.2 to -17.4 in March, vs expectations for a rise to -9.0. The February report also missed expectations, coming in at -11.2 from the previous reading of -4.4. The report included several comments from local business executives referencing the drop in oil.

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Dallas Morning News - March 30, 2015

Jean: Texas CEOs in Dallas Fed survey give insight into impact of low oil prices and their outlook

Comments from Texas CEOs and other top executives in a survey released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas give some insight into how their companies are being affected by the persistent low oil prices and their outlook. The price of U.S. crude oil has fallen about 60 percent in the last six months. The price was trading at $47.40 at 10:30 a.m. today. I blogged earlier today that the overall pace of manufacturing activity in Texas fell in March (with declines in the indexes for production, new orders, shipments, capacity utilization, employment and the hours worked.

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Texas Tribune - March 30, 2015

House Committee Passes Compromise on Drilling Rules

A House committee on Monday approved legislation that would limit local control over oil and gas activities — a committee substitute for a bill that initially stirred anger in city halls across Texas. In a 10-1 vote, the House Committee on Energy Resources approved an updated version of House Bill 40, among the most prominent of nearly a dozen bills filed in the aftermath of Denton's vote in November to ban hydraulic fracturing within the North Texas city's limits.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - March 30, 2015

Dallas County DA Susan Hawk dodges questions about turmoil, says she’s ‘moving forward’

Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk said Monday that she is “moving forward” after acknowledging last week she had sought treatment to stop taking prescription pain pills. But that’s about all Hawk said, leaving lingering questions — some as simple as her upcoming work schedule — unanswered during a brief public appearance at Jack Evans Police Headquarters. As Hawk sought to shift attention beyond the personal and professional issues, some political experts have said she needs to be more forthcoming or risk losing the public’s trust.

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Bloomberg - March 27, 2015

It's Almost Impossible to Buy a House in Dallas

The metropolitan area of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington added 131,000 people in the year ended July 1, 2014, according to Census estimates released this week—the second-largest influx in the country. Homebuilders have been unable to keep up. There were 8,850 for-sale listings in Dallas last month, down 17 percent from February 2014, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That’s only enough inventory to cover demand for the next 1.8 months. The short supply isn't a new situation. When Bloomberg checked on the local market in late 2013, it found prospective buyers offering cash payments to take over purchase contracts, and homebuilders struggling to meet demand. What's remarkable is that supply is still lagging a year-and-a-half later.

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National Stories

The Hill - March 30, 2015

Growth in oil production hits new record

Domestic oil production grew last year by the highest margin since the federal government started keeping records in 1900. Crude oil output averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, an increase of 1.2 million barrels per day, which is the largest increase since record-keeping began, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Monday. Domestic oil production grew last year by the highest margin since the federal government started keeping records in 1900. The EIA attributed the record increase to tight oil from shale formations.

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The Hill - March 30, 2015

A Texas take on Ted Cruz's presidential bid

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his U.S. Senate bid, he was the preferred choice of a mere 3 percent of Texas Republican primary voters in a field of a half-dozen credible candidates. Chief among his rivals was a powerful three-term lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, who possessed a net worth of $200 million, enjoyed the near-unanimous support of the Texas GOP establishment and began the 2012 election cycle with a commanding lead in the polls. A year-and-a-half later, Cruz soundly defeated Dewhurst in a primary runoff with 57 percent of the vote and was on his way to the U.S. Senate. One thing 2012 taught us in Texas is that one should never underestimate Ted Cruz. But, that said, there are several noteworthy differences between the dynamics of Cruz's 2012 Senate and 2016 presidential campaigns.

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Columbus Republic - March 30, 2015

Federal funding in short supply for massive rural water projects in drought-stricken states

A pipeline project intended to bring billions of gallons of water a year to a drought-stricken section of eastern New Mexico represents a lifeline to parched communities that are quickly running out of water. The lifeline, however, might not reach the region for more than a decade, even though officials say some areas don't have that long before wells dry up. The slow pace of construction in what would be the state's most expensive infrastructure project to date underscores the challenges faced by a number of states eyeing such projects.

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CIV Source - March 30, 2015

Fort Collins, CO moves in favor of carbon neutrality

Despite political opposition and rampant science denial, Fort Collins, Colorado has decided to become a carbon neutral city by 2050. The city has approved new targets that will cut emissions significantly by 2030, in order to be fully carbon neutral by 2050. City officials say that Mayor Weitkunat played a key role in moving this issue through the city council. The Mayor has previously served on the President’s Climate Preparedness and Resilience Task Force, which provides recommendations on how the federal government can support local communities when it comes to dealing with climate change. Fort Collins is the second US city to make news this month by taking an aggressive stance on climate change. Earlier this month, Georgetown, Texas announced its plans to rely solely on wind and solar energy.

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BuzzFeed - March 30, 2015

The Political Education Of Rafael Cruz

Long before his son would run for president, or he himself would become a popular political speaker, Rafael Cruz was something else for a brief period: a pro-Castro student activist. The story of Cruz’s departure from Cuba is an arduous story that the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, the newly-announced presidential candidate, tells often — a story his son referenced, at the beginning of his presidential announcement speech, as a tale of the “promise of America.” As Rafael Cruz tells it: He was a teenager from Matanzas, Cuba, picked up by the secret police of the American-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was jailed, then tortured for days.

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Yahoo! News - March 30, 2015

Supreme Court rejects free speech appeal over Cinco de Mayo school dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact an appeals court ruling that school officials in California did not violate the free speech rights of students by demanding they remove T-shirts bearing images of the U.S. flag at an event celebrating the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. The court declined to hear an appeal filed by three students at Live Oak High School in the town of Morgan Hill, south of San Francisco. School staff at the May 5, 2010, event told several students their clothing could cause an incident. Two chose to leave for home after refusing to turn their shirts inside out.

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Townhall - March 28, 2015

The Tip of the Climate Spending Iceberg

Lockheed Martin, a recent Washington Post article notes, is getting into renewable energy, nuclear fusion, “sustainability” and even fish farming projects, to augment its reduced defense profits. The company plans to forge new ties with Defense Department and other Obama initiatives, based on a shared belief in manmade climate change as a critical security and planetary threat. It is charging ahead where other defense contractors have failed, confident that its expertise, lobbying skills and “socially responsible” commitment to preventing climate chaos will land it plentiful contracts and subsidies. As with its polar counterparts, 90% of the titanic climate funding iceberg is invisible to most citizens, businessmen and politicians. The Lockheed action is the mere tip of the icy mountaintop.

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The Hill - March 27, 2015

Ted Cruz's Senate record by the numbers

Since becoming the first major potential Republican presidential candidate to officially announce his candidacy on Monday, freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been criticized as too inexperienced to seek the White House. The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board compared Cruz to President Obama, writing that each first-term senator was someone “who lacks executive experience.” Cruz has kicked back at that criticism, calling Obama a “backbencher.” The Texan argues that his legislative record is beefier than is being reported and says he’s been an influential leader in derailing Democratic initiatives.

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Los Angeles Times - March 28, 2015

McManus: Ted Cruz's ride on the Obamacare train wreck

“We'll be getting new health insurance, and we'll presumably do it through my job in the Senate, and so we'll be on the federal exchange like millions of others on the federal exchange,” he told Dana Bash of CNN. “I believe we should follow the law, even laws I disagree with,” he explained. Liberals charged Cruz with hypocrisy. But that's not quite right. To quote ethics scholar Rush Limbaugh: “There's no hypocrisy in Cruz using Obamacare, just like there's no hypocrisy in people opposing Social Security using it.”

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The Hill - March 30, 2015

With Schumer likely next Senate Dem leader, a trend is broken

The pattern is undeniable: No Senate floor leader since Republican Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania left the minority leadership in 1977 has been from one of the nine largest states, which cumulatively make up more than half of the U.S. population. Indeed, nearly all Senate leaders have been from the bottom half of the states when ranked by population, including some of the very smallest in the Union. To wit: Over the past three decades, the Republican leaders in the Senate have been Howard Baker of Tennessee (17th-largest state today), Bob Dole of Kansas (34th), Trent Lott of Mississippi (31st), Bill Frist of Tennessee (17th) and currently Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (26th). If anything, Democratic leaders have hailed from even smaller states, at least since Lyndon Johnson of Texas left the Senate to become vice president in 1961.

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CNN - March 27, 2015

Navarrette: Will Latinos back Ted Cruz?

Latinos likely haven't made up their minds about Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's newly announced candidacy for President. So in a selfless gesture, a whole slew of non-Latinos have quickly stepped forward to spare us the trouble of thinking for ourselves about whether Cruz stands a chance of winning and whether he can get the votes of fellow Latinos. The answers were "No" and "No." Here's the conventional wisdom, courtesy of the liberal media and other critics of the junior senator from Texas: Cruz doesn't have the slimmest chance to win the Republican nomination, let alone to eventually become President.

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Bloomberg - March 29, 2015

Ted Cruz: 'I Was Not a Community Organizer'

Ted Cruz is trying to put the comparisons with President Obama to rest once and for all. "Unlike Barack Obama, I was not a community organizer before I was elected to the Senate," Cruz said during a Sunday appearance on CNN's State of the Union. The freshman Senator turned Republican presidential candidate has come in for criticism from some in the party who see that résumé as too similar to that of Obama's. ... "I spent five and a half years as the solicitor-general of Texas, the chief lawyer for the state of Texas in front of the U.S. Supreme Court," Cruz said. "I supervised and led every appeal for the state of Texas in a 4,000 person agency with over 700 lawyers and over the course of five and a half years, over and over again, Texas led the nation defending conservative principles and winning."

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Washington Post - March 27, 2015

Rubin: Pick again, social conservatives

The New York Times reported this week that a conclave of evangelical conservatives has gotten together in search of a not-Jeb Bush candidate. This happens like clockwork every four years but inevitably ends in disagreement about the not-the-moderate candidate. Hence the right-wing dilemma: More conservative candidates divide up the vote, letting a moderate slide through. According to the report, at a recent meeting former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee came in as the top pick, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tied for second. If that is the result, aided by a pollster, the religious conservatives need a new pollster. (Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, denies he has ruled out Bush.)

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Salon - March 27, 2015

American billionaires on welfare: The Koch brothers and other ranchers stealing your tax dollars

Americans love ranchers: Gritty ranchers, mom-and-pop ranchers, renegade ranchers — especially those who raise livestock on the vast open prairies of the West through a mixture of hard work and rugged independence. But there’s another side to the ever-popular rancher mythology— a side the media doesn’t cover and the public never sees. The Koch brothers, Ted Turner, the Hilton family and nine other powerful ranchers share an uncommon privilege: giant public subsidies, unknown to U.S. taxpayers. ... Their faces are absent from rancher stories. Some of that is media laziness. The other part is inconvenience. It takes a lot of digging to identify any public lands ranchers with precision. Why? Because the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service (which administer most federal grazing leases) have record-keeping systems that are the antithesis of transparent. There is no central database.

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Reuters - March 30, 2015

Republicans see Obama as more imminent threat than Putin: Reuters/Ipsos poll

A third of Republicans believe President Barack Obama poses an imminent threat to the United States, outranking concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A Reuters/Ipsos online poll this month asked 2,809 Americans to rate how much of a threat a list of countries, organizations and individuals posed to the United States on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being no threat and 5 being an imminent threat. The poll showed 34 percent of Republicans ranked Obama as an imminent threat, ahead of Putin (25 percent), who has been accused of aggression in the Ukraine, and Assad (23 percent). Western governments have alleged that Assad used chlorine gas and barrel bombs on his own citizens.

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The Atlantic - March 27, 2015

Rick Perry, American Caudillo

Right now, at least, Rick Perry seems to be getting nowhere. In fact, both of the ambitious Texan Republicans with designs on the White House—Perry, the former governor and Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand—are footnotes in the early jostling for the Republican nomination for president. But we are a full year from the early caucuses and primaries. In 2012, it did not matter that Rick Santorum won Iowa. In 2015, who even remembers? It would be a mistake to write Perry's political epitaph just yet, despite his withdrawal from the 2012 race. He’s been lampooned of late as the cowboy governor who gave up boots for designer glasses. But he didn't become the longest-serving governor in the history of the Lone Star State without a tremendous instinct for acquiring and wielding power.

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Copyright March 31, 2015, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved