Less than a year away and the dance has begun for Texas governor

This isn’t the Texas two-step, more like musical chairs. Continuing what I wrote about having a web site to be a candidate, those web sites will come and go and they may switch focus before we vote in November 2010.

Just as soon as Tom Schieffer announced that he will not run for governor, Houston Mayor, Bill White, had a press conference to announce that he will decide by (Dec 4) if he will run for governor or stick with his original plan and run for a US Senate seat – the one presumably vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison – but White wants to hear from the people of Texas as to what he should do. You can tell him what to do at his web site.

Seeing as how KBH said she will not vacate the Senate while health care is up in the air. I don’t see White filling that seat. The others on the Republican dance card are Larry Kilgore and Debra Medina.

The Dem-dance so far includes Farouk ShamiFelix Alvarado, Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert.

Looking at their web sites, I want to scream, “Neeeext?!”

You aren’t in a political race until you have a web site

It seems like a truism these days: “You aren’t in a political race until you have a web site.” Looks like another gubernatorial candidate joined the World Wide Web. In addition to Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, these guys hope to make their mark as governor of Texas.

Farouk Shami fires up his campaign Web page

Hair care millionaire Farouk Shami fired up his Farouk for Governor Web page today in anticipation of his official launch Thursday into the campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Others in the race include Felix Alvarado, Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert and Tom Schieffer.
Source Farouk Shami fires up his campaign Web page | Texas Politics | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

If Bonfire Returns

On this, the 8th anniversary of the “9/11” terror attack and collapse of the Twin Towers, are Aggies seriously considering bringing back Bonfire to the Texas A&M campus in College Station?

Paul Burka, Governor Rick Perry, even former university president Ray Bowen, and others have made mention – at least in passing – that Bonfire can/should return to campus and burn again.

Why does Burka keep harping on Bonfire? The words that are said and the way they are said makes it seem like Ags are hell-bent on melting the polar ice caps and raising the average global temperature a few degrees.

Not only is Bonfire dangerous – no matter who builds it – but it’s evironmentally insane. It needlessly forces tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. I thought it was crazy when I first heard about it in 1995, and I still think that it’s crazy to “build” something as massive as Bonfire and then BURN it!

I’m all for traditions. Traditions build unity and keep the past fresh. Aggie Muster is an example of a Tradition. First Yell is an example of a good Tradition. Bonfire is a good example of putting people at risk during “cut” and “build” and contributing to the harm of future generations during “burn”. I think it’s time to put Bonfire to rest and maybe say a prayer (or have a moment of silence) on November 18.

Source: Burkablog: Texas Monthly.

From an e-mail from Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Interim President
September 15, 2009
There is a lot of discussion about bringing Bonfire back to campus as we prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Bonfire brings out strong emotions in all of us. As an Aggie, interim president – and father – I believe that the parents who entrust us with their sons’ and daughters’ education expect us to first and foremost do what we can to help ensure their children’s physical safety and well-being. Please keep the families of the Aggies affected by the tragic collapse of Bonfire in your thoughts and prayers as we look ahead to November’s 10th anniversary.

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.

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.



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.

Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-5922 (tel)
202-224-0776 (fax)

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.