Thou shall not be a usurer




payday loan

The new Payday Lending bill out of the legislature is garbage, if you couldn’t tell. From the Texas Tribune, it looks like what they have agreed upon won’t do much good. Don Baylor, a representative of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, stated that the regulation was so weak that “It’s kind of akin to putting a 75 mile-per-hour speed limit on a residential road.” Additionally, it looks that stronger regulations in cities like Austin and Dallas may be undercut by this state regulation.

Revamping of Graduation Requirements

A few weeks ago, I talked about how there were a few bills that would revamp graduation requirements, including eliminating the need for students to take Algebra II in order to graduate. Well, this is a few days old, but the Texas House recently passed (nearly unanimously) that proposal.

The bill passed, HB5, would reduce end-of-year standardized testing, which is good. It would also reduce the number of science and math classes taken in order to graduate. However, like I mentioned earlier, it would create a remedial path to graduation that many students would be placed into. This would include making Geometry the top math level required for graduation (what I completed in the 9th grade). There would also create a “distinguished diploma,” which would essentially be the same diploma everyone gets right now. It would be college preparatory track, and only be undergoing this track would one be considered for the “top 10% (top 8%) rule.”

Mark Strama, an Austin Representative, attempted to amend the bill by making the distinguished option the default one, and force any individual wishing to graduate in the vocational track to opt-out of the collegiate path. This proposal was defeated, mostly along partisan lines.

The Dallas Morning News has more.

In re Marriage

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which it will decide the constitutionality of Prop 8, and, possibly, whether gay marriage should be expanded nationwide. A few days ago, I found a paper I wrote in High School about gay marriage. Now, most of the 20 pages or so that I wrote were about research on the topic, or religious themes, but I had some really insightful paragraphs about my own opinions at the end that I would like to share below. Bear with me, I was like 15:

In conclusion, this author supports the concept of same sex marriage about as strongly as one could support anything. When I was in grade school, I remember reading about the Civil Rights Act and wondering how anyone could be possibly opposed to such things. I also wished that there was a similar movement today that I could be a part of, as I held such respect for the people that were a part of it. 

The quintessences of my religious views on the topic are embodied in the verse of Exodus 32:32. God is so angry after learning of the Golden Calf that he wants to destroy all of Israel. Moses calmly responds, “Now, if you will forgive their sin well and good; but if not, erase me from the record for which you have written.” I believe that the purest thing that I may do as a Jew is to live a Just and Righteous life, and fight for Justice and Righteousness within my nation. I believe in a God who feels the same way. However, if God opposes such Justice and such Righteousness, than erase me from this book, erase me from the record for which God has written. 

I often will be the most libertarian member of a group when matters turn to religion. I have a reputation as a “Godless Heathen” after I single handedly removed a Non-Denominational Prayer from the start of Houston Mayor’s Youth Council Meetings, claiming it was unconstitutional. Immediately, people began asking me, are you an Atheist? No. Agnostic? No. Non-Religious? No. I explained that my personal views on religion were to love my neighbors as I love myself, and I knew of several Atheists on the Council whom I knew were offended by the prayer, just as I would have been slightly offended by a prayer ending with “in Christ’s name”. When I become older I hope to become married to a woman, and if and when that day comes and same sex marriage is still not universally accepted in America, I will feel a tremendous guilt, because my wife and I will be married without any legal roadblocks, while other people will be still fighting for their basic rights guaranteed by God and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.

3/25 tidbits

From the Ron Reynolds, the Democratic Fort Bend State Rep., has been indicted on barratry (ambulance chasing) charges. This is a separate incident from what happened last year, this time the charges are out of Montgomery County. No word on what this means for Reynold’s political future. To quote an anonymous elected official from the convention last year: “Reynolds is tainted goods.”

Dos Centavos has a good piece about how Mayor Parker is discussing eliminating–or, at least, decriminalizing–the really mean law against rummaging through the trash. Parker isn’t exactly well known for her empathy on issues of homelessness, and it might even be a wedge issue for the Kuboshes and Halls of the world. I agree with Stace, it is a good step in the right direction to be getting rid of silly laws like this.

Finally, The Dallas Morning News has an awesome story about how Dr Pepper had comparative gains towards the competitors.

Gene Green and the Democratic Party

I’m surrounded by a lot of Republicans in this state, and that includes the Democrats. Gene Green is one of those such Democrats. While Congressman Green (Gene, that is, not Al) has historically been somewhat liberal on most issues, including healthcare and social policy, he is dragging up the rear of society on the issue of gun control. Michael Bloomberg has recently come up in the news for pushing a Super PAC that would seek to “primary,” i.e., defeat in primary election, moderate Democrats who are pro-guns and pro-NRA. If Mr Green does not change his regressive views about gun control, perhaps the “Bloomberg solution” would be best.

Gene Green has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association, the same rating as Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Further, he recently stated some pretty disturbing rhetoric in an interview about gun control, stating his unequivocal opposition to the assault weapons ban, saying “Instead of saying we need to outlaw certain types weapons, we need to find better ways to enforce current law, the kneejerk approach of those who want to control firearms may not be the solution.’’ Excuse me?

The Democratic Party has seen their ambitious social and economic policies killed, or severely maimed, because of their own party’s dysfunction. To quote a very wise man from the Texas Democratic Convention last year, we have too many “soft Republicans” who are running around masquerading as Democrats. For example, I support strong bans/regulations on most deadly weapons, gay marriage and the abolition of the death penalty. Are these the radical policies of some socialist? Try Stephen Harper and David Cameron.

Gene Green opposes most gun control measure with any hint of a spine in them. Similarly, he STILL opposes gay marriage, and believes the state has a right to execute someone. Accordingly, I offer Mr Green an ultimatum. Either drag your political beliefs into the 21st century, or answer to the voters.

The 29th District is heavily Democratic. Even in the horrible 2010 election cycle, Green was re-elected with 65% of the vote against Roy Morales, a candidate who had just run for Mayor (had a great name-recognition). A more liberal Democratic nominee would not put the district in jeopardy of a Republican being elected. Additionally, at 66% Hispanic, it is getting a little bit ridiculous that a white guy who isn’t even very liberal is the Congressman. I have no idea who would possibly challenge him next year in the primary, but I would hope that the individual would have the heavy backing of Bloomberg’s SuperPAC.

Pauken to run for Governor

Tom Pauken, the former Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, and the former Chairman of the Texas Republican Party, will be running for Governor next year, presumably against Rick Perry. I don’t think his political view really differ that much, one way or another, from the Governor. He has an old website here, which may get a makeover in the upcoming weeks, and may just be discarded in favor of something like ‘paukenfortexas” or what not.

Anyways, Rene Oliveira was injured in a car crash a few days ago, as well. She is expected to make a full recovery. In other State news, Senator Patrick’s big voucher bill had its big hearing recently, where Patrick got quite emotional. Senator Davis also voted against the recent bipartisan budget, citing how little it does for education.

The Trib and Kuff have more. I have a plane to catch–Houston, here I come!

On holiday until 3/22

Texpatriate will be on holiday until the afternoon of March 22nd. I have sixteen pages to write by then on American Foreign Policy, so there’s that. On Friday (3/22), I fly back to Houston for 9 days and Austin for 3. Expect to see a lot of activity then.

Executive term-limits pass the Senate

Senator Eltife’s proposal to apply Executive Officers to a limit of two term was passed in the State Senate today. By a vote of 27 (15 Republicans, 12 Democrats) to 4 (all Republicans), the State Senate moved the proposed Constitutional Amendment to the House. If it passes by at least 2/3 majority in the House. The Chron article mentions that the proposed amendment exempts current officeholders,  meaning Rick Perry could stay in office until 2023.

You can see my thoughts on term limits here. Essentially, I support this proposal, because it only applies to Executive Officeholders. I support term limits on the Governor for the same reason I support them on the President: it prevents too much power being concentrated in one person for too long. I find it pretty interesting that comments on the Chronicle are so supportive of this measure (albeit, opposed to the fact that the term limits exempt the legislature), I had always figured the internet commentators there to be more libertarian than that.

Rick Perry is like a parasite

He won’t go away, and people keep encouraging him. The Trib is reporting that Governor Perry will “officially” make his decision about 2014 in June, and will make a decision about…wait for it…2016 at the end of this year. This is, from what I have heard, to be the first official nod the Governor has made towards the idea of running for President again in four three years. This may be a classic case of overcompensation or, better yet, overcorrection for the Governor. He entered the 2012 race too late (5 months before the Iowa Caucuses), so he’s going to enter the 2016 race way too early (2 years before the Iowa Caucuses).