Monday, May 9, 2011

Expansion of Gambling... You Gotta Know When To "Hold 'Em"

The Texas legislature is only in session for 6 months every two years - this session ends on May 30. In that short amount of time we have MUCH to do and watch over as citizens of this wonderful state!

For now, we must keep fighting! And the fight for today is regarding gambling in TX. You can read the whole sordid story here about how Joe Straus has a personal financial interest in TX gambling and how he is hiding the bill from public view. And after you're done reading, make sure to take action!

Who to call: your State Rep
Contact info: click here to find your representatives
NOW! They are sneaking this in right now!
What to say: We do not want an expansion of gambling in Texas of any kind whatsoever - no race track derbies, no VLT’s, no racinos, no casinos!

Thank you for making your voice heard!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking Toll Taxes TOO Far...

Yes, In TEXAS everything (including the highway system) is BIGGER, BETTER... but do we really want to add MORE EXPENSIVE to that list? Take time to read this segment below and contact your representatives on the state level to share your thoughts.

Tomorrow, in Austin, TX the House bill HB 1112 by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips (R - Sherman) is on the General State Calendar in the House for Wednesday, April 20. TURF (Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom) is urging lawmakers to VOTE NO on HB 1112, which amount to toll taxes in perpetuity.

"This bill makes 'system financing' permissible for Regional Mobility Authorities (or RMAs), which is stealing toll taxes from one corridor and giving it to another corridor (that those same users may not use) as well as to increase the toll on one segment to gain "surplus revenue" to pledge to another and so on, making it virtually impossible to take the tolls off the road."

Under HB 1112, there would no longer be a requirement that toll rates be based on the cost of building the road and retiring the debt nor strictly dedicated to paying the cost of construction and retiring the debt. Also, based on testimony during an exchange between RMA lobbyist Brian Cassidy and Senator Juan Hinojosa in the Senate Transportation Committee March 9, "system financing" indeed means tolls in perpetuity. The Texas Constitution prohibits perpetuities in Art I, Sec. 26. So under "system financing," tolls become a hidden, permanent tax, not a "user fee."

The bill also allows RMAs to borrow money using borrowed money, which are the same multi-leveraging schemes that caused the subprime mortgage crisis and global financial meltdown.

It's like building roads with credit cards," says Hall. "It's dangerous and very risky business, putting the taxpayers on the hook for any bailouts if the traffic doesn't show up. With gas nearing $4 a gallon, toll roads are bleeding traffic. So future bailouts of this multi-leveraged debt is more likely by the day."

HB 1112 also broadens the authority of RMAs to have all the powers of TxDOT, including eminent domain, and Comprehensive Development Agreements (selling off Texas roads to private toll operators) if that authority is granted to the Department. The bill also broadens its authority for toll collection, which has been problematic in every area of the state. HB 1112 allows RMAs to build parking structures and collect "fees" or tolls on parking and parking meters. Phillips argues it's for the Grayson Airport, but the bill doesn't limit it to airport parking.

It would allow the RMAs to raid property tax appraisal increases for its projects, and use toll revenues for "economic development" (which is eminent domain for private gain) and for just about anything it likes. It would also repeal Section 370.317(d), Transportation Code which requires the Department to approve any agreements between a local government and private entity.

It would also let RMAs participate in the State Travel Program. Why would a LOCAL entity to need travel? Perhaps for junkets to "conventions" in Austria as the NTTA did at a cost to taxpayers of $7,000 a ticket? All of this would be done by UN-elected bureaucrats, not elected officials.

"This bill is far from being fiscally responsible much less fiscally conservative," concludes Hall.

Two other organizations besides TURF testified against this bill, Texas Public Interest Research Group and Texans for Accountable Government. Only the RMA lobbyist testified in favor.

Texas TURF is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer group defending Texans’ concerns with toll road policy, Trans Texas Corridor-style projects like public private partnerships, and eminent domain abuses. TURF promotes non-toll transportation solutions.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our National Anthem

I have always loved the simple beauty of The National Anthem of the United States of America. I had the chance to sing it before the Houston Astros played the Boston Red Sox (so appropos) at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas this past week. Here is a short video recorded by my wonderful husband!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I recently finished one of the many new opportunities that our church has provided us to share our testimony and faith with the world via the internet. Click here to see my profile! Then, add yours - or if you are not familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - click around and explore!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Call to Action...

There is a movement that begun years ago with various academics stating that we should hold another Constitional Convention to change the inherent flaws in our U.S. Constitution. I have recently read that some of our current Senators are beginning to return to this conversation and I want to raise my voice in opposition to this idea. I urge you to educate yourselves, form and opinion and raise your one voice in the collective voice of "We, the people".

I have penned this letter to the Lt. Governor of Texas and I will send another copy to my state Senator and Representative. I invite you to read it and then write your own (or just copy and paste mine) to your state representatives. Please take the time to make sure your voice is heard.

Lt. Governor Dewhurst,

Recently I have read that you have called for a Constitutional Convention to add an amendment to our standing Constitution for balancing the national budget. I applaud and am grateful for your fervor to balance our national budget and forever limit the spending of government. I respectfully question your reasoning behind opening up a full Constitutional Convention in order to amend our U.S. Constitution.

My concerns with opening a full Constitutional Convention are primarily based in two issues. Foremost, a Constitutional Convention will allow the constitution itself to be reviewed and changed. I understand that there are no implicit guidelines that would govern such a convention and that each and every portion of the U.S. Constitution would be at the mercy of those voting delegates at the convention. I am opposed to the current document being opened up to broad, sweeping changes. The founders of this nation provided us with a manner in which to amend our Constitution and I suggest highly that we adhere to that wisdom and guidance that has preserved our democracy through the ages. Thus, I suggest using the recommended and historically successful pattern for amending our Constitution – it is a pattern that has been tried and has remained true to the vision of the United States of America and I do not see any reason to depart from it.

The remaining concern is that the general populous of Americans will like the sound of and the idea of returning through history and opening up a Constitutional Convention without understanding that by doing so the entire document that governs our nation would be at risk. I respectfully question if that is not the reason for suggesting this course of action – solely for a group of politicians to seem to be adhering to the traditions of our country when indeed they would be placing the country at great risk. I believe that the majority of Americans are grateful for our freedoms, we want our country to succeed and we desire the ability to pursue happiness in whatever way we deem correct for ourselves. I believe that those rights are protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. I believe you were chosen to protect the rights and protect the Constitution.

I am in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to provide a requirement to balance the national budget and to reduce current and future spending. I am in favor of following the high standards and guidelines our Founders set to amend the Constitution. I am strongly opposed to creating a setting that would open the Constitution up for broad changes and thus creating for the first time in our history a setting in which the representatives of the people would allow our Constitution to become vulnerable to the whim of man.

If my understanding of this process is incorrect I would appreciate receiving a better understanding of what is being suggested to amend our Constitution.

In a letter to G.L.Turberville in 1788 James Madison (Father of the U.S. Constitution) wrote this:

"If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partisans on both sides; it would probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric.

"Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America, and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned."

I don't believe his words hold less truth in our day than they did in his time.