Two Views

Two Views: There’s a silver lining in Trump’s Charlottesville comments

Two Views: There’s a silver lining in Trump’s Charlottesville comments

President Donald Trump’s slowness to condemn the Charlottesville violence, and then subsequent comments where he stated there was “blame on both sides,” produced outrage — and rightly so. But it wasn’t until after Trump’s news conference did we witness people speaking out against his comments specifically. Republican leaders such as Sens. Jeff Flake, Todd Young...
Two Views: Why the U.S. will never transcend white supremacy

Two Views: Why the U.S. will never transcend white supremacy

Now that the violence in Charlottesville, Va., has forced “white supremacy” into our political vocabulary, let’s ask an uncomfortable question: When will the United States transcend white supremacy? My question isn’t: “What should we do about the overt white supremacists who, emboldened by Trumpism’s success, have pushed their way back into mainstream politics?&rdquo...
Two Views: Smith dodges criticism behind cold comfort of a telephone

Two Views: Smith dodges criticism behind cold comfort of a telephone

A representative is elected to represent us. But how can U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith do this when he will not meet with us or listen to us? Where is Lamar Smith? He does not hold town meetings. He does not let us know when he is in Austin. We are his constituents. Yet he routinely votes against our expressed interests. Is he not interested in knowing what is important to us? Most recently he joined in the...
Two Views: Constituents OK with tele-town meetings, says Lamar Smith

Two Views: Constituents OK with tele-town meetings, says Lamar Smith

I am interested in the thoughts and ideas of all residents of Texas’ 21st Congressional District. I regularly meet with constituents who share or oppose my views. Fortunately, it’s more often the former! The 21st District covers 10 counties, including Travis. I make regular visits to Austin. Last year, the number of days I spent in Travis County was second only to Bexar County (San Antonio)...
Two Views: Texas tree ordinances are eminent domain in all but name

Two Views: Texas tree ordinances are eminent domain in all but name

During the current special session, the Texas Legislature will address the seemingly simple question: Who owns the tree in your backyard? Nearly 50 municipalities in Texas have ordinances preventing landowners from removing trees from their private property without receiving the city’s permission — and they often require property owners to pay a fee to mitigate the loss of trees. Gov....
Two Views: Let’s count the ways Texas loses without tree ordinances

Two Views: Let’s count the ways Texas loses without tree ordinances

Ever since it became evident that the Texas Legislature’s special session would include a targeted attack on tree protection, TreeFolks has been inundated with calls and emails from across Texas. Clearly, the public — including many legislators — have questions about the impact of proposed bills reversing tree ordinances. In short, the proposals — House Bill 70, and Senate...
Two Views: Session provides a golden opportunity for Texas House

Two Views: Session provides a golden opportunity for Texas House

Compared to a 140-day regular session, which begins slowly and ramps up over time, a 30-day special session, which begins Tuesday, requires focus and deliberate speed. The Senate wants to hit the gas. The House wants to hit the brake. Gov. Greg Abbott has been hitting the gas for weeks, lining up House and Senate bill sponsors for all 20 of his special session agenda items, seeking co-sponsors, meeting...
Two Views: Special session will known as ‘the summer the music died’

Two Views: Special session will known as ‘the summer the music died’

“I tell you friends there’s a song in every town,” Pat Green warbled in his hit “Songs About Texas.” It’s hard to argue with that, given the evidence. Dallas, wrote Jimmie Dale Gilmore, “gives a beautiful light,” at least when seen from a DC 9 at night. Glen Campbell could hear Galveston’s “sea winds blowing” from the jungles of Vietnam...
Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session

Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer, the American poet and hero killed in World War I, we might begin a look at the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature by rudely rewriting a bit of Kilmer’s most famous poem: Laws are made by fools like thee But only God can make a tree. Only the governor can set agenda items for a special session — and Gov. Greg Abbott has used that power to demand...
Two Views: Special session offers opportunity for conservative reforms

Two Views: Special session offers opportunity for conservative reforms

There’s a scene in the 1984 film, “Romancing the Stone,” when Kathleen Turner’s character, whose sister has been kidnapped and held for ransom until she delivers a treasure map, says to her hero, “That map is my sister’s life.” Jack T. Colton, played by Michael Douglas, replies, “Like hell it is. Whatever’s at the end of that map (“El Corazon&rdquo...
Commentary: How politics keep standing in the way of energy solutions

Commentary: How politics keep standing in the way of energy solutions

In energy policy, political polarization often gets in the way of common-sense solutions to problems. General Electric recently announced a technological advance that would allow pipeline companies to use drone-mounted cameras to inspect their lines for corrosion and leaks. This is the kind of development that could — with the right regulatory support — make huge strides toward preventing...
Two Views: The truth about education spending in Texas, by Dan Patrick

Two Views: The truth about education spending in Texas, by Dan Patrick

The 2017 legislative session recently ended and, as if on cue, education bureaucrats began pushing out misinformation, insisting that the state cut funding for public schools. You may have seen it in the media or maybe even heard it directly from your local school officials. Here are the facts: Texas spends $60 billion on schools in our two-year budget including both federal and state funds &mdash...
Two Views: Amid bickering, Abbott achieved every key goal

Two Views: Amid bickering, Abbott achieved every key goal

The 85th legislative session is now in the rearview mirror. Though a range of policy issues were addressed, the greatest focus will be on two things: so-called sanctuary cities and the special session. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott does not like special sessions, which he has consistently communicated. He believes 140 days is sufficient time for lawmakers to complete their work every other year. But this...
Two Views: How Texas GOP leaders showed they were ready to be hurtful

Two Views: How Texas GOP leaders showed they were ready to be hurtful

Let’s look on the bright side: Texas Republicans didn’t slash funding for public education so deeply that 20 percent of the annual school days had to be scrapped, which is what Oklahoma Republicans have done to many schools in their state. “Oklahoma is OK,” goes the state slogan. Not so much. And, after the end of the 2017 regular session of the Texas Legislature, Texas isn&rsquo...
Commentary: Why we sued to stop SB4, the “show me your papers” law

Commentary: Why we sued to stop SB4, the “show me your papers” law

Our great state is home to millions of immigrants from across the world. Every one of them deserves to live free of harassment and discrimination — and with human dignity. However, our vision of a multicultural, thriving Texas is under threat with perhaps the most discriminatory piece of anti-immigrant legislation in the United States: the “show me your papers” law, Senate Bill 4...
Commentary: How SB 4, not fearmongering, will make Texas safer

Commentary: How SB 4, not fearmongering, will make Texas safer

As law enforcement officers and elected officials, it is our sworn duty to protect and serve our communities and uphold and enforce the laws of our country and great state. We take that responsibility seriously. It is a high calling. We feel compelled to speak out about Senate Bill 4, which bans “sanctuary cities” and was signed into law by the governor to decrease fear and uncertainty...
Two Views: What investigators should be asking after Comey’s firing

Two Views: What investigators should be asking after Comey’s firing

The controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is expanding. His decision set in motion a series of events that present the most serious threat to his presidency yet. For a moment, imagine where we would be had Trump not fired Comey? It doesn’t really matter now. The simple fact is that the White House has lost the ability to control where this...
Two Views: What Comey’s dismissal says about democracy in America

Two Views: What Comey’s dismissal says about democracy in America

Recent American history seems like a series of more-or-less, pro-democracy interludes between authoritarian crack-ups. Affaire de Trump is just the latest — and most dangerous — of the wrecks. There was the Joe McCarthy 1950s (sorry, President Eisenhower, the era doesn’t belong to you). Then there were the Civil Rights, environmental, equal rights and health care victories of the...
Two Views: Why cuts to school funding would undo classroom innovation

Two Views: Why cuts to school funding would undo classroom innovation

At IDEA Public Schools, we believe that every student has the potential to matriculate to and through college. We also understand the value that academic enrichment and character-development programming provide to ensure students are spending adequate time studying after school and are preparing for the rigors of college. Programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, funded by the...
Two Views: How Texas’ pre-K programs keep students on path to college

Two Views: How Texas’ pre-K programs keep students on path to college

In 1985, the Texas Legislature began funding prekindergarten for eligible children. Over the years, our state has seen a significant return on that investment. Students who participated in public pre-K in 1999 persist in college today at a rate 6.8 percent higher than their peers who were eligible but did not attend public pre-K, according to a 2017 report from the Texas Education Agency. As commissioner...
Two Views: GOP plan would continue decades of expensive health care

Two Views: GOP plan would continue decades of expensive health care

We’ll be poorer. We’ll be sicker. We’ll die sooner. That’s what Texans can expect if President Donald Trump and the Republican U.S. Congress adopt anything like the House-passed American Health Care Act. For this price, the wealthiest Texans — the top .1 percent, like their counterparts around the country — will receive tax cuts over $200,000. If ever there was...
Two Views: How GOP health bill could stave off collapse of Obamacare

Two Views: How GOP health bill could stave off collapse of Obamacare

Health care is an emotional issue for millions of Americans — and that is understandable. But let us get a few objective facts on the table about the American Health Care Act. First, the health care bill that House Republicans passed to replace Obamacare, which is collapsing, will not become law. The Senate is just now beginning its own process from a clean sheet of paper. If they can advance...
Commentary: Conservative budget should be Texas Legislature’s priority

Commentary: Conservative budget should be Texas Legislature’s priority

The debate between the Texas Senate and House over the state’s budget and tax relief points to a potential emerging consensus about the growth of government in Texas. A quick look at both versions of the state’s upcoming 2018-19 budget make it appear that they are only $400 million apart at around $218 billion in spending. Moreover, both versions are assembled using accounting adjustments...
Smith: Texas lawmakers are locked in the bathroom

Smith: Texas lawmakers are locked in the bathroom

The Texas Legislature seems to have locked itself in the bathroom — and it won’t come out. Outside, millions of Texans — like confused family members wondering what could be wrong — pound on the bathroom door, pleading for lawmakers to come out. We refer, of course, to legislation that would force transgender folks to use public restrooms designated for their birth gender....
Mackowiak: Compromise bathroom bill threads the needle

Mackowiak: Compromise bathroom bill threads the needle

Perhaps it is a sign of how much our culture has changed that a simple notion — that boys and girls should not shower together in schools — is considered controversial. The so-called “bathroom bill,” which seeks to prevent the mixing of boys and girls in our schools, passed the Texas Senate under the able leadership of state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). That bill was effectively...
Two Views: Trump administration remains an enigma after 100 days

Two Views: Trump administration remains an enigma after 100 days

Never before in modern American history have we known less about a presidency after its first 100 days than now. The Trump administration remains an enigma. Its ideological convictions, competency, priorities and most influential voices are all uncertain, perhaps even more so now than on Inauguration Day. In the crucial realm of national security, the signs are particularly mixed. For us conservatives...
Two Views: Glitz can’t disguise these 100 days of ineptitude

Two Views: Glitz can’t disguise these 100 days of ineptitude

Back in 1982, Donald Trump was trying to seduce Holiday Inn into a partnership in a casino that he wanted to build in Atlantic City. In truth, the project was more dream than reality. Trump had acquired a parcel on the boardwalk, but nothing much had been done with it. So when the board of directors of Holiday Inn wanted to visit the site, Trump needed to put on a show — and do so in a hurry...
Two Views: Families caring for abused kids deserve community’s support

Two Views: Families caring for abused kids deserve community’s support

How did we fail Colton Turner? This is the question Texas was asking itself in the wake of the two-year-old’s death in 2014. Now, the entire state is yet again asking a similar question while attempting to address the statewide broken system that is Child Protective Services. Senate Bill 11 and similar proposals are the legislative body’s most recent attempt to reform the overburdened...
Two Views: Gay, lesbian couples are solution to foster care backlog

Two Views: Gay, lesbian couples are solution to foster care backlog

The backlog of children in the Texas foster care system awaiting placement with a foster family has been front and center in recent debates about how to best reform the state’s child welfare system. News reports of children sleeping in the offices of Child Protective Services caseworkers has led many people to question why there is such a critical shortage of foster families across the state...
Two Views: GOP seeks to run city hall, school board, county government

Two Views: GOP seeks to run city hall, school board, county government

A troubling marker of this overheated political era is our confusion over the relative power of various levels government. Collectively, we sound a little like the old comedy duo Abbott and Costello arguing about “Who’s on first?” Do we favor the level closest to the people: city and county governments, school boards, hospital and utility districts? Or are we best guided by leaders...
Two Views: Legislature right to nix city control of ride-hailing

Two Views: Legislature right to nix city control of ride-hailing

Here’s a question: Should the city that you live in set rules for how you can get a ride? How can a city prevent two private individuals — one a willing passenger, the other a willing driver — from entering into a contract for that ride? This very issue likely will be settled by the Texas Legislature before the session ends in about six weeks. Uber and Lyft operate around the world...
Two Views: Austin ISD plan looks to future while securing its present

Two Views: Austin ISD plan looks to future while securing its present

The dedicated employees of the Austin Independent School District work diligently to prepare more than 80,000 students they serve for college and career readiness and success throughout their lives. As Austin continues to be a magnet for employers and millennials to create companies, grow jobs and increase opportunities, the number of people who move here — currently a net 110 every day &mdash...
Two Views: School board vote shows disconnect to East Austin students

Two Views: School board vote shows disconnect to East Austin students

The recent vote by the Austin Independent School District school board to approve its facilities master plan is a troubling sign of continued educational inequality. Most concerning is the board’s decision to leave on the table the possibility of closing five elementary schools with predominantly Latino and African-American student populations, as well as its approval to move the Liberal Arts...
Two Views: Pipelines right step in restoring sagging infrastructure

Two Views: Pipelines right step in restoring sagging infrastructure

The State Department’s recent granting of a long-awaited permit for the Keystone XL pipeline affirmed what common sense and an exhaustive review process made clear long ago: Expanding energy infrastructure serves both U.S. economic and security interests. Repeatedly deemed environmentally safe during a yearslong review process starting in 2008, Keystone XL is set to transport 830,000 barrels...
Two Views: Trump’s energy policies will put beaches under water

Two Views: Trump’s energy policies will put beaches under water

Like it or not, the United States has a presidential administration that resembles one from a sci-fi novel or movie set in a dystopian future. In this very real plot, an ultra-wealthy elite continues to plunder the world’s finite fossil fuel resources at the expense of the global climate and environment. Joining President Donald Trump in his administration are an anti-climate change administrator...
Two Views: Trump’s border wall is bad for Texas

Two Views: Trump’s border wall is bad for Texas

Back in 2014, then-Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said he was “deeply concerned” that the federal government believes it has the authority “to swoop in and take land that has been owned and cultivated by Texas landowners for generations.” Then-Gov. Rick Perry said, “If this country’s to stay the land of freedom and liberty, private-property...
Two Views: Border wall in urban Texas areas makes sense

Two Views: Border wall in urban Texas areas makes sense

It is staggering to see how the Democratic Party has flip-flopped on border security over the years. As Annie Liskey of The Boston Globe reported on January 27: “As a senator, Barack Obama once offered measured praise for the border control legislation that would become the basis for one of Donald Trump’s first acts as president. ‘The bill before us will certainly do some good,&rsquo...
Commentary: Tree ordinances are best left to city governments

Commentary: Tree ordinances are best left to city governments

Once again, the Legislature is taking aim at cities — and tree protection ordinances sit squarely in their crosshairs. The value of trees and urban forests is unquestionable. There are very real economic, environmental and psychological benefits that trees provide for our communities and their residents. Studies have demonstrated that the presence of trees increases property values for homeowners...
Commentary: Austin tree ordinance violates private property rights

Commentary: Austin tree ordinance violates private property rights

Trees are timber — a natural resource that belongs to private property owners in the same way as a backyard garden. It would be absurd to require a government permit to harvest your peppers and potatoes — yet many Texas cities strictly regulate trees on your land. Overregulation of landowners and their ability to trim and remove tress is the focus of a major property rights fight at the...
Two Views: Which bills will survive distance between Senate, House?

Two Views: Which bills will survive distance between Senate, House?

In 1990, a Democratic member of the U.S. House named Al Swift was quoted in D.C.-area media reports as saying “Republicans are the opposition, but the Senate is the enemy.” That line remains a shrewd observation today. Though partisanship is a considerable factor in any legislative body, nothing unites a legislative body like the disdain it has for its counterpart. There are about 70 days...
Two Views: Distance between House, Senate leaves key bills in doubt

Two Views: Distance between House, Senate leaves key bills in doubt

It was an old ritual of the high school rebels: light up our cigarettes in the bathroom. That’ll show the teachers and the principals who’s really in charge! In our ritual conformity, we rebels were a rather sad spectacle, but we can put the behavior off to adolescent confusions. The same excuse can’t be made for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has turned the 2017 Legislature into an extended...
Commentary: Tackle drug monopolies to bring medication prices down

Commentary: Tackle drug monopolies to bring medication prices down

The news that President Donald Trump takes the anti-baldness drug Propecia has temporarily bumped his war against the pharma sector from the front pages. Before his doctor offered this juicy tidbit, the focus was on Trump’s comment that drug companies were “getting away with murder” and his threat to authorize Medicare to negotiate lower prices. Wall Street took Trump’s remarks...
Commentary: Legalizing drug importation harms Texas’ patients, economy

Commentary: Legalizing drug importation harms Texas’ patients, economy

President Donald Trump promises to help lower America’s prescription drug bills. How? By allowing patients to buy medicines from overseas pharmacies. Though intended to help everyday Americans, legalizing drug importation would actually harm them. It would force American pharmacies to compete on a deeply uneven playing field. Foreign companies, benefiting from the socialist price controls of...
Two Views: Bathroom bill is about women’s rights

Two Views: Bathroom bill is about women’s rights

In May, President Obama issued an edict that all schoolchildren could declare their own gender and use the restroom and shower of their choice. Thankfully, the newly appointed attorney general has rescinded that order, saying it was done “without due regard for the primary role of the states.” I agree, which is why I’ve been joined by over a dozen of my fellow state senators in authoring...
Two Views: Bathroom bill puts trans children in harm’s way

Two Views: Bathroom bill puts trans children in harm’s way

As a pediatrician, I have dedicated my life to the well-being and protection of children. A large part of my job is to care for and advocate for those who have no voice. My wife, also a pediatrician, underwent three years of extra training to specialize in caring for children who have been sexually or physical abused. Throughout our careers in pediatrics, we have seen far too many children who were...
Two Views: Prohibitions on dues deductions punishes professionals

Two Views: Prohibitions on dues deductions punishes professionals

It’s alarming to see how quickly some Republican leaders of an extremist bent can turn their followers on opponents. It’s like Donald Sutherland’s space-alien howl and pointed finger in the film, “The Body Snatchers.” The extremists point to a villain, and their followers, full of instant animosity, attack. It’s happened to lawyers. It’s happened to women&rsquo...
Two Views: Texas collects labor union dues used to harass employers

Two Views: Texas collects labor union dues used to harass employers

From 2005-15, Texas has actively collected over $49 million in dues on behalf of politically active labor unions, not including data from school districts, cities and counties. Here’s a simple question: Why don’t labor unions collect their own dues? Recently, the Senate State Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 13, authored by state Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), the State Affairs Chair...
Two Views: Why school vouchers won’t work — an economist’s perspective

Two Views: Why school vouchers won’t work — an economist’s perspective

The school-reform movement stands at a crossroads. One camp wants unfettered free markets, while charter school leaders and others want to offer families choice and preserve meaningful oversight and accountability. This debate is playing out in Texas on Senate Bill 3, which would create two forms of school vouchers. Though packaged as savings accounts and tax credits, Senate Bill 3 is essentially...
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