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Two Views

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...
Two Views: Schools could thrive with free market, less bureaucracy

Two Views: Schools could thrive with free market, less bureaucracy

Recently, due to tremendous momentum, the issue of school choice has become front and center in education policy debates around the country. With the largest and most successful National School Choice Week ever, and President Donald Trump issuing a proclamation supporting school choice, the issue has been generating a lot of attention. Many people are still learning about school choice — and...
Commentary: Trump order mucks up the regulatory process

Commentary: Trump order mucks up the regulatory process

President Trump’s recently issued executive order requiring agencies to trash two regulations for every one that they adopt is another ham-handed attempt to deliver on a campaign promise that will — like the recent immigration order — eventually prove unworkable. In the meantime it will prevent federal agencies from writing and enforcing regulations needed to protect us from serious...

Commentary: New Cabinet, Trump’s regulatory policy can revive economy

The world is watching as President Donald Trump lurches into motion. For many, the early signs suggest a blend of hubris and incompetence as he creates chaos in the nation’s highest executive office. For those inclined to panic, I would ask to what halcyon days are you yearning to return? The resuscitation of our nation’s economy may, in fact, require the knockabout approaches of our bumptious...
Smith: Serving up lies to 'Intimidation and Customs Enforcement' raids

Smith: Serving up lies to 'Intimidation and Customs Enforcement' raids

Remember when Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican state officials hated the federal government? Why, a few years ago former Gov. Rick Perry even tossed the word “secession” into his poisonous mix of anti-President Obama rhetoric. He was, we were told, just kidding. Think back to 2015, when Abbott and others feared that run-of-the-mill U.S. military maneuvers known as Jade Helm were suspected...

Mackowiak: Abbott, Patrick seek to protect public with SB4

In near record time, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 4, legislation authored by state Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), which seeks to end so-called sanctuary city policies in our state. To date, only Travis County has put such policies in place, while Dallas County has reserved the right to do so on a case-by-case basis. The other 252 county sheriffs in Texas have not done so. A sanctuary city...
Commentary: Even Merkel admits wide-open immigration was a mistake

Commentary: Even Merkel admits wide-open immigration was a mistake

President Trump’s first few weeks in office have been exhilarating. Among the many positive outcomes is a renewed interest concerning the importance of border security. While nearly all of us would agree that some level of border protection is required, there is much disagreement about how far such protections should be taken. The Trump administration, though, has made it clear that it believes...
Commentary: A wall would not hurt Mexico as much as NAFTA has

Commentary: A wall would not hurt Mexico as much as NAFTA has

President Trump is unlikely to fulfill his dream of forcing Mexico to pay for his proposed wall along the United States’ Southern border. If it is built, though, U.S. taxpayers will almost certainly foot the bill, which some have estimated could be as high as $50 billion. With that said, it’s worth taking a step back to look at the economics of U.S.-Mexican relations to see how immigration...
Floyd: Gorsuch seems to be qualified, unlike other Trump choices

Floyd: Gorsuch seems to be qualified, unlike other Trump choices

Confession: I felt relief last week at the president’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. This isn’t because I agree with Gorsuch on many — perhaps any — hot-button issues: reproductive rights, environmental regulation, health care and other topics of ideological warfare in our bifurcated society. A widely circulated Supreme Court graphic that places Gorsuch&rsquo...
Commentary: Cabinet is small potatoes; Gorsuch is the real battle

Commentary: Cabinet is small potatoes; Gorsuch is the real battle

Donald Trump often describes things he perceives to be beneath him or to be inconsequential as “small potatoes.” Some of these include his participation in the USFL, his billion-dollar investment in an Irish golf course and even the George Washington Bridge. Trump has yet to describe the ongoing Cabinet nomination battles as “small potatoes,” but they are compared with the...
Glenn Smith: Abbott and Co. are disenfranchising metropolitan voters

Glenn Smith: Abbott and Co. are disenfranchising metropolitan voters

On a variety of fronts, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature are moving to strip local voters of control over their communities. It’s a dangerous, anti-democratic gambit that ought to have conservative, moderate and liberal voters up in arms. Of course, Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other legislators don’t put it this way. According to their statements, they are only protecting...
Matt Mackowiak: Local control ends where common sense begins

Matt Mackowiak: Local control ends where common sense begins

With enough time and effort, a person can find inconsistency in any ideological viewpoint. One of the arguments that liberals and journalists often make to stop conservative efforts in the Texas Legislature in our deeply red state is to stop athwart history and yell “local control!” It is true that conservatives believe in two important principles: limited government and that the government...
Matt Mackowiak: Legislative session begins in tight budget climate

Matt Mackowiak: Legislative session begins in tight budget climate

The 85th Legislature, which began Jan. 10 and famously lasts just 140 days, is occurring at a time when the low price of oil has hit the Texas economy hard. How hard? Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who is rightly receiving rave reviews for his thoroughness, seriousness and responsiveness in his job, announced on Jan. 9 that Texas Legislators will have $9 billion less to spend than they did just two...
Glenn M. Smith: Will Legislature be all engine noise and no action?

Glenn M. Smith: Will Legislature be all engine noise and no action?

Analyzing the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature is a little like predicting the havoc of one of those old automobile destruction derbies. What will happen when the ghosts of the reactionary past try to run over those who are hopeful for a fair shot at a prosperous future? It won’t be pretty. It’ll be so loud our ears will hurt and we’ll choke on the exhaust fumes. Drivers of...
Harrington: This year’s MLK celebration should be different from others

Harrington: This year’s MLK celebration should be different from others

In years past, the Martin Luther King holiday has been a happy celebration with lively marches, exalted oratory and the like. However, this year, as everyone knows, is different. In the past, we have honored the holiday as representing a milestone in American history — a day signifying progress in ending the historical scourge of slavery and its Jim Crow progeny, segregation. This year, there...
Opinion: What Martin Luther King Jr. may have thought about U.S. today

Opinion: What Martin Luther King Jr. may have thought about U.S. today

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I wonder what MLK would think about the country for which he dedicated his life to fighting racial oppression and advancing civil rights. Would he be pleased with the state of affairs of our country? What does the presidential election say about who we are as a nation? It is symbolic that about a week after we celebrate MLK Day will mark the...
Commentary: School choice means accountability to parents

Commentary: School choice means accountability to parents

We all want an education system that delivers a high-quality education to all children. Ensuring quality requires holding schools accountable for results, but that raises a crucial question: accountable to whom? A few years ago, as the Arizona Legislature was considering expanding its pioneering education savings account (ESA) program, the mother of a child with special needs who benefited from an...
Commentary: School vouchers would run public education like a business

Commentary: School vouchers would run public education like a business

It’s no surprise that some of our current leaders like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or President-elect Donald Trump are pushing school voucher programs. They’ve been telling us that was their intention for years. Abandoning our neighborhood public schools, however, isn’t something the vast majority of Texans want. While political salesmen like Patrick and Trump and the organizations that...

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, which insiders know should be more accurately called the Department of Nuclear Weaponry. The nomination has drawn jeers from some national pundits who pointed out that the Energy Department was the very agency Perry forgot he wanted to abolish in his memorable “oops” debate moment...
Mackowiak: Perry’s public service record will benefit Energy Department

Mackowiak: Perry’s public service record will benefit Energy Department

Let’s consider what former Texas Gov. Rick Perry brings to the table as a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet and as the president’s designee as Secretary of Energy: • He was the longest-serving governor in the history of the nation’s second-largest state • He has 24 years of executive experience, having served as agriculture commissioner, lieutenant...
Commentary: Trump policies protect us and allies from Chinese bullying

Commentary: Trump policies protect us and allies from Chinese bullying

President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Taiwan early this month shattered the tired political wisdom of the Washington establishment regarding China and the island the mainland considers a breakaway province. It sent a powerful message to Beijing that major change is coming in America’s foreign policy. Trump’s conversation with the Taiwanese president was...
Commentary: Even before taking office, Trump has made a mess

Commentary: Even before taking office, Trump has made a mess

President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call last month with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan sent shock waves throughout China and much of the world. For nearly four decades, it has been Washington’s official policy to diplomatically recognize only China and not Taiwan, an island the mainland considers a breakaway province. Trump has indicated that by abandoning this policy and, in effect...
Mackowiak: Holiday season offers us a chance to help our community

Mackowiak: Holiday season offers us a chance to help our community

When you’re a kid, you think the holiday season is about receiving gifts. When you grow up a little bit, you realize the holiday season is about giving gifts. Since I was about 12 years old, I’ve always enjoyed giving extravagant or especially thoughtful Christmas gifts. Nothing makes me happier. In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to have the means and the opportunity to...
Smith: ‘Tis the season to re-engage with the world

Smith: ‘Tis the season to re-engage with the world

Maybe radio is what Santa Claus hears on his sleigh’s stereo as he travels around the world. The earth below spins by and Santa hears pop songs in Russian, prayers in Italian and news in Chinese. Maybe, like me, he heard Tom Jones sing “Delilah” on a Tehran, Iran station. Unlike Santa, I was just home for the holidays listening to human voices from around the world on a web site...
Commentary: DeVos will be breath of fresh air for parents, students

Commentary: DeVos will be breath of fresh air for parents, students

Teachers unions and the education establishment reacted with predictable scorn when President-elect Donald Trump last month named Betsy DeVos as his nominee for secretary of education. But parents have one simple reason to be optimistic: DeVos has been a champion for educational choice across the country. Her support for school choice goes beyond mere lip service. She has worked to advance viable...
Commentary: DeVos’ hostility to public schools should be a disqualifier

Commentary: DeVos’ hostility to public schools should be a disqualifier

In the United States, 90 percent of children attend public schools. These young people and their families rely on this system, which is funded by tax dollars and is answerable to democratically elected school boards. In many communities, the public school system is the glue that holds a diverse population together. We therefore expect the men and women who set federal education policy to support public...
Smith: School privatization is a pyramid scheme

Smith: School privatization is a pyramid scheme

Want to know why today’s Trumpian Republicans — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick among them — think public education is a waste of money? Just listen to President-elect Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes. She cuts to the heart of it. There’s no such thing as facts, Hughes said. In the Trump era, a Pinocchio nose is the new Washington Monument. It’s growing out of the...
Mackowiak: School choice returns power to parents

Mackowiak: School choice returns power to parents

Conservatives support school choice. However, rural elected officials, many of whom are also conservative, generally do not. There’s an inherent conflict in this that partly explains why the broad issue of education reform has made some progress in Texas in recent years but the narrower issue of school choice has not. School choice offers a fundamental question: Should there be competition in...
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