Monday, August 13, 2012

Commentary on Speed Limit Increase

I read Thomas Brown's post, 85 MPH is plenty safe, on his blog Thomas Brown's Texas Government Blog. I had heard about this policy before and the people that mentioned it seemed to be in favor of it because they would travel on highway 130. From what they tell me, there are sections on the highway where it is very tempting to just fly by but many officers are just waiting issue the speeding ticket along the highway. This is my comment on his post:

"Texas is such a huge state and it takes a long time to travel. I usually travel from Austin down to the valley and it takes about 6 hours when following the speed limit. Even then the section of between Robstown and Kingsville on highway 77 is set up with speed traps. Once you reach Kingsville the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour in a couple miles. I think Texas should try to increase the speed limits in rural highways were there is not a lot of traffic. When I travel I usually see people traveling at higher speeds than the speed limit. I hope Texas improves its highways and considers increasing speed limits in rural highways."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Space Exploration in Texas

Texas is well know for having NASA's Johnson Space Center but California seems to be leading in the space industry. Texas does have many opportunities for aerospace engineers interested in the atmospheric flight side of the career. Hopefully Texas will soon jump into the space industry since many private companies are gaining interests in opening sites in Texas.

Texas is a nice big state with a lot of land to offer for space exploration. Currently there are a couple of space companies interested in investing their sites in Texas. XCOR Aerospace from California found a nice location near Midland to establish a facility. SpaceX, also from California, is trying to negotiate a launchpad near Brownsville. Blue Origin from Washington is also trying to establish a launchpad in West Texas.

These private businesses may bring a lot of job opportunities in Texas. Texas needs to take advantage of the interest of these businesses in order to build up a space industry. Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, is considering Texas for a launchpad but there's a competition between Florida and Puerto Rico for the launchpad. These businesses would like to be as close to the equator as possible in order to make spaceflight quicker and cheaper.

According to the article, Private Space Industry Eyes State's Open Spaces, Gov. Perry has not tried to lure these companies with any incentives. It's time that these companies come to Texas and establish a good industry. These companies have been considering establishing facilities in Texas for over 20 year, they now have the appropriate technology to collaborate with NASA and being in Texas would establish a strong network with mission control. SpaceX has built the the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets in order to utilize their Dragon capsules, which has one for crew and another for cargo. They have already collaborated with NASA by sending a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station. If these businesses would like to come to Texas, the governor needs to negotiate with them in order to bring more jobs to Texas.

Luthra, Shefali. "Private Space Industry Eyes State's Open Spaces." Article. The Texas Tribune. Published August 10, 2012. Accessed August 10, 2012.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Commentary on Plastic Bags

I read Shashank Desai's post, Say "No" to the ban of plastic bags, on his blog Texas Politics. I had no idea that Austin was considering a plastic bag ban. I decided to comment on his post because I went through the experience of a plastic bag ban back when I was living in Brownsville. Here is my comment on his post:
"I can see why the people of Austin are concerned about this plastic bag ban. I went through the same situation about a year ago in Brownsville, TX. The city was able to manage the transition fairly well. Although it took some time to adjust to the change.

Once the plastic bag ban began, Wal-Mart and Target continued to offer plastic bags but would charge for the plastic bags. This forced many of their clients to switch to reusable bags and some retailers began purchasing paper bags.

It has been over a year since the initiation of the plastic bag ban in Brownsville. Yes, many would forget their reusable bags. Yes, it was frustrating having to pay for plastic bags. Overall the experience was good and according to the article "Brownsville, Texas Celebrates One Year Anniversary Of Successful Plastic Bag Ban" from the city itself looks a lot cleaner.

Overall if Austin is able to handle the plastic bag ban like Brownsville did there will be minimal problems and it should be a smooth transition. Even though it seems like an inconvenience, the plastic bag ban helped the community in Brownsville and I believe it would help the community in Austin even better."

Unknown Author. "Brownsville, Texas Celebrates One Year Anniversary Of Successful Plastic Bag Ban." Article. PRWEB. Published January 16, 2012. Accessed August 2, 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Rise of the Democrats?

There have been recent articles discussing how a new political action committee (PAC), launched by two Democratic Mexican-American lawmakers, has been concentrating on the Hispanic community. I think this is a great effort to get the Hispanic community to go out and become more involved in politics by voting. Now are the Democrats just informing the Hispanics on the upcoming elections or is this a form of gathering votes for the Democratic party?

The PAC is called the One Texas PAC and will be concentrating on supporting Hispanic candidates for the Texas Legislature. Although the efforts are good, I would have liked that the PAC concentrate more on informing the Hispanic community on voting, not just gathering voters for their desired candidates, but that's what PAC's do isn't it? The plan for the PAC is to go and mobilize Hispanic voters to districts where they can make a difference in elections.

Yes, the Hispanic minority is growing and will eventually become the majority, but are political parties trying to take advantage of this? Most likely. The recent Voter ID issue had claims flying all over the media, "Republicans Aim to Keep Obama Voters From Ballot Box," "Does the Texas Voter ID Law Discriminate Against Blacks, Hispanics?" So it makes sense that the Democrats are trying to gain the Hispanic community in Texas to influence the upcoming elections.

According to the article, the voter turnout for Hispanics in Texas is half the rate of the turnout in California. So why are the Democrats investing in a PAC for Hispanics in Texas? This could be the start of the Democratic part's return in dominance. With this PAC's plan to support Hispanic candidates, directly engage with the voters, and mobilize the voters to districts where they can influence elections the Democrats may begin a small set up to increase their dominance in Texas Legislature.

Although I'm quite excited to see that the Democrats are trying to get the Hispanic community involved in politics, I'm not happy with the way they are trying to influence them for more votes.

The Associated Press. "Democrats start group to mobilize Hispanic voters." Article. The Daily Texan. Published July 26, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2012.

Reber, Pat. "Republicans Aim to Keep Obama Voters From Ballot Box." Article. Hispanic Business. Published July 25, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2012.

Ramirez, Rosa. "Does the Texas Voter ID Law Discriminate Against Blacks, Hispanics?." Article. National Journal. Published July 16, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2012.

"Protecting the Health of Women"

Mean Rachel wrote a post, The Texas Shame Act, on her blog about the controversy sparked by a Doonesburry comic strip regarding the Texas law that requires women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion.

Obviously her followers are the main intended audience, but I believe she is also aiming at the general public who has come across this issue. I believe she wants to inform them of the flaws in the controversy by pointing out the methods of other comic strips regarding women. She tells her audience this, "If that's all this law is about, truly a plight to keep women safe, then why can't I read about it while I gulp down OJ and Cheerios? Comic strips like Zits prod at women's health and no one seems to get up in arms about that."

I believe Mean Rachel has been running her blog for quite some time and she has written a lot of posts about Texas politics. She has a lot of credentials like the following taken from her about me section: "covered the 2008 Democratic National Convention with The Texas Observer team, writes for The Huffington Post and has served as the National Communications Director for the Young Democrats of America Women's Caucus." She also states that she was asked by Mark Wiggens from KVUE to comment on the issue. Therefore I believe Mean Rachel provides a lot of credentials for her credibility.

She addresses the issue and her argument is how the Texas sonogram issue brings shame to women and how the comic proves that point. She points out the flaw in the logic that is being used to pull the comic from the papers by saying, "If all this law is about is simply "protecting the health of women," then what's the harm of it being brought up in the comic section where "families and children may see it"?"  She also points says that the law isn't out to protect women by saying, "It's not about giving a woman "the privacy that she deserves," as if the very basic right to privacy is something women still have to be deserving of, like a day at the spa or a pay raise. But this law isn't even about that. It's invasive, state-mandated shaming. So call it what it is: the Texas Shame Act."
Rachel. "The Texas Shame Act." Blog. Mean Rachel. Posted March 15, 2012. Accessed July 23, 3012.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Austin Energy Fairness

I read the editorial Don't turn to state for energy fairness from the Austin American Statesman where the author states that the Texas Legislature is pending on a decision to increase the utility rates for customers who live outside of Austin.

I believe the author is targeting local Austin Energy customers to inform themselves about the upcoming situation and to respond to the necessary people in order to produce a solution. The author says, "The Legislature should leave it to the Austin City Council, Austin Energy's suburban customers, our local state delegation and utility officials to find the best way to protect ratepayers who live outside the city." After saying that, the author suggests that the management of the utility should change from the City Council to an independent board of trustees, which would include suburban representatives.

The author stated many important details relating to the Texas Legislature and Austin Energy funds. The author mentions an Austin Energy project, which is claimed to return and "haunt Austin ratepayers." Apart from being very knowledgeable about the situation, the author is writing for the Austin American Statesman, which is a big source of news for central Texas. Therefore, I believe the author presents facts well enough to claim credibility.

The author argues that the current method of dealing with energy utilities is flawed. The author argues that the Legislature should step away from making decisions and leave it to a local board or delegation. The author shows how CPS Energy from San Antonio could be a model for Austin since "CPS is governed by a five-member board consisting of four citizens from different parts of the city and the mayor."

This editorial is an interesting read because the author shows some detailed information when comparing Austin Energy to CPS Energy.

Editorial Board. "Don't turn to state for energy fairness." Austin American Statesman. Editorial. Published July 13, 2012. Accessed July 20, 2012.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"No to Obamacare." Is it that simple?

I was reading this article* from Austin American Statesman, which discusses the results of saying "no" to the federal health care law upheld by the Supreme Court. Gov. Rick Perry stated that about one fourth of the Texas population was uninsured, which makes up about 12% of the uninsured population in the United States.

According to the author, states that reject the law's Medicaid expansion risk opening up another "hole" for the uninsured people of their state. Not only do the states risk this problem, they may also be funding the states that do accept the Medicaid expansion. Here is a quote from the article about this issue: "You are still paying for that coverage expansion but not getting the benefit of it," said Herb Kuhn, president of the Missouri Hospital Association. "So you as a state are exporting your dollars to another state. If you have some adjoining state that accepts (the Medicaid expansion) then you are basically sending your dollars to your neighbor."

Since the Supreme Court allowed the state officials to make the decisions regarding the federal health care law, many are waiting to see the results of this Presidential election to determine their final decision. With Gov. Perry saying "no" to the Medicaid expansion, about 1.3 million Texans will not have the chance to obtain health insurance for which they may be eligible.

I recommend this interesting article because it shows some of the details in regards to saying "no" to the federal health care law.

*Zaldivar, Ricardo A. "States saying no to 'Obamacare' could see downside." Austin American Statesman. Article. Published July 17, 2012. Accessed July 17, 2012.