You know you’re in Texas when…

The Governor tweets this:

Hunting season starts tomorrow! Just a friendly reminder to get those hunting licenses..Be safe and good hunting!!

Texas Legislature

I love the state legislature. What a bunch of talking heads. What a cushy job. A bunch of junk flew through on the last day of regular session (June 1, 2009) and they all feel good about themselves for doing what’s right. They closed sine die and now everyone gets to sit back and watch Texas go up in smoke; perfect metaphor of the heat this summer.

Get While the Getting Is Good

Even if you quit a university president’s position, it’s all good because there’s always the golden parachute.
From theeagle.com: Severance details released

Murano’s severance package included being paid her salary of $425,000 while she is on leave through June 2010. She’ll also be paid $295,000 by the end of the week in exchange for agreeing to not file a lawsuit against the system or its officers.

And the other shoe drops…
From the same article:

The special regents meeting kicked off with a presentation that painted a dire economic forecast for Texas A&M University and higher education in general, including continued tuition increases, funding shortfalls in the next legislative session and possible reductions in other revenue sources such as investment earnings.
The presentation — made by B.J. Crain, associate vice chancellor for budgets and accounting — said that Texas A&M University’s total operating budget increased 66 percent from 2000 to 2008, from $553 million to $918 million. The spike was significantly higher than the cost of inflation, she said.

The administration (the BOR, Presidents Murano and Gates) over spent and now it’s time to tighten the belt. Of course combining functions with their flagship university allows the System to save money, but it’s a crutch. They may lower cost slightly and keep income steady, but next year, everyone will be worse off when the Texas Legislature cuts the budget. Long live the president and the office of the president.

…Presidents and Chancellors come and go….

As seen on http://texan4texas.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/video-perry-on-murano-decision/

Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival 2009

It’s that time of year again. Now that kids are out of school and people are looking for things to do with the family it’s time to drink wine and eat steak.

This year it is the third annual Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival. The main events happen June 20.

Last year’s events were good by Bryan standards. It was hot, humid and not much more to do than sample wine and eat meat.

A Texas Budget Rider Would Bid ‘Hasta la vista’ to Windows Vista

AUSTIN – It could be “Hasta la vista, baby” to state agency purchases of Microsoft’s Windows Vista information technology under a proposed state budget provision.

The “rider” in the proposed two-year, $182.2 billion state budget – expected to be taken up Wednesday by the Texas Senate – would require state agencies to get written approval from the Legislative Budget Board before buying Vista technology related to an operating system, equipment or licenses.

Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, added the provision in committee and said it’s meant to block purchases of the technology, which has been targeted by criticism: “Don’t buy it, because it’s not worth it.” Source: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news

I would add while we’re at it, let’s require IE7 for their XP machines. I can’t tell you the number of work-arounds we’ve incorporated into websites to let older versions of IE work.

UPDATE March 11, 2010: At work we skipped Vista (per se) and went from XP to Windows 7 this year. I say per se because we bought computers with Vista pre-installed and installed XP images on them.

Stop funding children’s health care with my tobacco

Congress is at it again. They want to increase the FET on tobacco. Go to Stop the FET increase.com and send a letter to your representatives:

I recently learned that Congress is again considering increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes by as much as 156%.

At a time when Congress is talking about passing a multi-billion dollar stimulus package, it doesn‘t make sense to raise any type of taxes. Moreover, I understand that as cigarette sales continue to decline it becomes an increasingly unreliable source of revenue for the government and that a cigarette excise tax impacts lower income households more than higher income households. That’s not fair!

I urge you to vote against any legislation to raise the federal excise tax on tobacco products.

This is an issue of great importance to me and I will remember how you vote on it.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME and ADDRESS

Just say NO! to taxes on smokers to fund children’s health care.

Here is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (form) reply:

Dear Mr. Siems:

Thank you for contacting me regarding tobacco taxes. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

The federal tax rate on cigarettes remained unchanged at eight cents per pack from 1951 to 1982. Since 1982, the rate has been increased several times, and the current federal tax on cigarettes is 39 cents per pack.

S. Con. Res. 21, the fiscal year 2008 Senate Budget Resolution, authorized an increase in the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1, a 61 cent increase, to raise money for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The increased tax would have raised an estimated $7.6 billion per year for this important program. However, I voted against the Senate Budget Resolution, and the Conference Report, because it increased spending to nearly $15 trillion over five years and included a historic $732 billion tax increase. The Budget Resolution failed to extend vital tax cuts that are driving our growing economy and instead creates the steepest tax hike in history.

An increase in the tobacco tax was considered as part of H.R. 976, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. SCHIP provides health insurance benefits to children in low income families that cannot afford health insurance, but are ineligible for Medicaid. While I am a strong supporter of the SCHIP program, I also supported three different amendments which would have provided relief from the proposed taxes on tobacco products. Senate Amendment 2554, introduced by Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), sought to amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to provide for a 60-vote point of order against legislation that includes a Federal excise tax rate increase which disproportionately affects taxpayers with earned income of less than 200 percent of the Federal poverty level (such as any tobacco tax). The amendment failed by a vote of 32-64. Senate Amendment 2558, introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), sought to sunset the increase in the tax on tobacco products on September 30, 2012. A budget point of order was raised against the amendment, and a motion to waive the point of order failed by a vote of 39-60. Senate Amendment 2619 was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to reduce the cap on the tax on large cigars from $10.00 to $3.00. This amendment passed with my support. The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 passed the Senate on August 2, 2007 by a 68-31 vote. Additionally, when the Senate considered the Conference Report for this legislation, I joined 66 of my colleagues in support of this important program. On October 3, 2007, President Bush vetoed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. It is now my hope that the President will sit down with Congress so that together we can continue the SCHIP program within the scope of its original mission.

Other legislation proposing tax increases on tobacco products include S. 1799, which was introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) on July 17, 2007. The bill seeks to apply rate parity to the excise tax on small cigars and small cigarettes by raising the tax from $1.828 cents per thousand to $19.50 per thousand units. Currently, there is a maximum federal tax of 4 cents per small cigar and 5 cents per large cigar (or 20.719% of the sales price, not to exceed $48.75 per 1,000 units). This legislation has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, on which I do not serve. Should this legislation come before the full Senate, you may be certain I will keep your views in mind.

I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to keep in touch on any issue of concern to you.

Sincerely,
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-5922 (tel)
202-224-0776 (fax)
http://hutchison.senate.gov

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY to this message as it is not a valid e-mail address. Due to the tremendous volume of mail Senator Hutchison receives, she requests that all email messages be sent through the contact form found on her website at http://hutchison.senate.gov/contact.cfm .

If you would like more information about issues pending before the Senate, please visit the Senator’s website at http://hutchison.senate.gov . You will find articles, floor statements, and press releases, along with her weekly column and monthly television show on current events. You can also sign up to receive Senator Hutchison’s weekly e-newsletter.

Thank you.

Steak and Grape

Only in Texas (well maybe elsewhere too) do they celebrate the Steak and the Grape – at one setting. What more could a Texan ask for – fine cut of beef and a fine wine to wash it down.

This is the second annual Texas Red’s Steak and Grape Festival and it promises to be fine time of wine and cooked cow.

Chili Joke – Texas Style

It’s that time of year again and folks in Texas are brewing the hot stuff. Someone sent me this and I had to pass it on. You’ve probably seen this joke floating around the internet. I re-print it here (without premission) because I had the same reaction everyone seems to have. If you can read this whole story without laughing then there’s no hope for you. I was crying by the end. Actually, I had to stop mid-way and run to the beer tent and the little boys room.

This was orignially a column by author W. Bruce Cameron a native of Michigan. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. I think the kicked-up, Texas version below is just as funny if not more so. Texans really do take their chili seriously.

“Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in.

I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted.”

[Personal Note: Everyone knew he wasn’t Texan. Texans don’t drink Coors Light. They drink Miller Lite or maybe Bud Light when Lite runs out.]

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

CHILI # 1 – MIKE’S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI…
Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick
Judge # 2 — Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 — Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

CHILI # 2 – AUSTIN ‘S AFTERBURNER CHILI..
Judge # 1 — Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge #2 — Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

CHILI # 3 – FRED’S BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI…
Judge # 1 — Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 — A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 — Call the EPA. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting drunk from all of the beer.

CHILI # 4 – BUBBA’S BLACK MAGIC…
Judge # 1 — Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods – not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 — I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beermaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lbs. woman is starting to look HOT – just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

CHILI # 5 LISA’S LEGAL LIP REMOVER…
Judge # 1 — Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 — Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

CHILI # 6 – VERA’S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY…
Judge # 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 — My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I pooped on myself when I farted, and I’m worried it will eat through the chair! No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.

CHILI # 7 – SUSAN’S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI…
Judge # 1 — A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress, as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing – it’s too painful. I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

CHILI # 8 – BIG TOM’S TOENAIL CURLING CHILI…
Judge # 1 — The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over, and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 — … (no report)

Texas Defined

Everything you wanted to know about Texas but were afraid to ask.

ADVICE FOR ANYONE MOVING TO TEXAS

1. Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later
how to use it.

2. Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we
can. Just stay home the two days of the year it snows.

3. If you do run your car into a ditch, don’t panic. Four men in
the cab of a four wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain
will be along shortly. Don’t try to help them. Just stay out of their
way.
This is what they live for.

4. Don’t be surprised to find movie rentals & bait in the same store.

5. Remember: “Y’all” is singular. “All y’all” is plural. “All
y’all’s” is plural possessive.

6. Get used to hearing, “You ain’t from around here, are you?”

7. If you are yelling at the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph
zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember, many folks
learned to drive on a model of vehicle known as John Deere, and this is
the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

8. If you hear a redneck exclaim, “Hey, y’all, watch this!” Stay
out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.

9. Get used to the phrase “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”.
And the collateral phrase “You call this hot? Wait’ll August.”

10. There are no delis. Don’t ask.

11. In conversation, never put your hand on a man’s shoulder when
making a point, especially in a bar.

12. Chili does NOT have beans in it.

13. Brisket is not ‘cooked’ in an oven

14. Don’t tell us how you did it up there. Nobody cares.

15. If you think it’s too hot, don’t worry. It’ll cool down-in December.

16. We do TOO have 4 Seasons: December, January, February, and Summer!

17. A Mercedes-Benz is not a status symbol. A Ford F-150 is.

18. If someone tells you “Don’t worry, those peppers aren’t hot”
you can be certain they are.

19. If you fail to heed my warning in #18 above, be sure to have a
bowl of guacamole handy. Water won’t do it.

20. Rocky Mountain oysters are NOT oysters. Don’t ask.

21. If someone says they’re “fixin” to do something, that doesn’t
mean anything’s broken.

22. Don’t even think of ordering a strawberry daiquiri. What you
really mean to say is ‘Margarita.’

23. If you don’t understand our passion for college and high school
football just keep your mouth shut.

24. The value of a parking space is not determined by the distance
to the door, but the availability of shade.

25. If you see a slower moving vehicle on a two lane road pull onto
the shoulder that is called “courtesy”.

26. BBQ is a food group. It does NOT mean grilling burgers and hot
dogs outdoors.

27. No matter what you’ve seen on TV, line dancing is not a popular
weekend pastime.

28. “Tea” = Iced Tea. There is no other kind.

29. Everything goes better with Ranch dressing.

Smoke out – Opinion

Now that the regular session is done here’s a juicy, hot-button topic that could make or break a congressman’s campaign.

Senate Bill 368 proposed by Senator Rodney Ellis, D-Houston) and House Bill 9 (HB 9) proposed by Representative Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas. SB 368 and HB 9, identical pieces of legislation, would have banned smoking in all public places and all work places. I say would have, because these bills had the good graces to die in committee and die without final vote at the close of the session, respectively.

It looks like this legislation” was a poorly written to start with. If you ask me, someone just wanted to make a name for themselves – “yeah I introduced the following legislation SB368, SB3…”

Here is a short list of who represents. Try to give’m a call (collect).

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison 202-224-5922
U.S. Senator John Cornyn 202-224-2934
U.S. Congressional District 17 Chet Edwards 202-225-6105
Texas Senate District 5 Steve Ogden 51-463-0105
Texas House District 17 Robert Cook 512-463-0682
Texas State Board of Education District 9 Don Mcleroy 979-255-2538

There is a district map problem in Texas, so the state representative usually changes every session.

Source: The Battalion