I voted…..and for Prop 1 I Voted NO

Texas makes it fairly easy to vote early; the polls are even open on Sunday. So after church, I stopped by and cast my vote.
As usual, I voted for those I believe will support a small government. Or at least not growing it as fast as possible.

On the ballot is a state-wide Proposition

“The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.”

Let’s look at what the Proposition does and then I’ll explain why I voted against it.

The additional transportation money would come from directing a portion of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund. Currently, the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) receives 75 percent of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections that exceed the amount collected in fiscal year 1987, when it was created. If approved by voters, half of the money currently destined for the ESF would be dedicated to the State Highway Fund. The remaining half would continue to build the unspent balance of the ESF. According to estimates from the Texas Comptroller, if voters approved the Constitutional Amendment $1.7 billion would be transferred in to the State Highway Fund in the first year alone.

Okay….First reason is right there — it takes money that is supposed to be dedicated to the Economic Stabilization or “Rainy Day” Fund and directs it to transportation projects such as roads and bridges.

Second reason;

(c) Not later than the 90th day of each fiscal year, the comptroller of public accounts shall transfer from the general revenue fund to the economic stabilization fund and the state highway fund the sum of the amounts described [prescribed] by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section, to be allocated as provided by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section. However, if necessary and notwithstanding the allocations prescribed by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section, the comptroller shall reduce proportionately the amounts described by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section to be transferred and allocated to the economic stabilization fund to prevent the amount in that [the] fund from exceeding the limit in effect for that biennium under Subsection (g) of this section.Revenue transferred to the state highway fund under this subsection may be used only for constructing, maintaining, and acquiring rights-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads.

Breaking down the politician weasel wording; Each legislative session the politicians would vote for a ‘floor’ on how little money has to stay in the Rainy Day fund and then split any money (remaining  above and beyond that) and new money into the Rainy Day fund and the State Highway fund.

So letting the politicians decide how much we should keep in the rainy day fund is a bad thing (more on this later). Related to this is the tendency of politicians to vote against appropriating the necessary amount of money for the important projects and then use other money to prop it up.
Sorry folks, if the State Highway fund isn’t getting enough money; the answer is simple; either vote for more taxes or stop spending money wastefully.

 

Lastly,

The constitutional amendment would provide significant progress in addressing the state’s unmet transportation needs by providing $1.7 billion in the first year alone. However, this amendment alone does not “solve” Texas’ transportation funding challenge. Experts say Texas has at least $5 billion in unmet transportation needs each year. This measure is expected to provide $1.7 billion annually to address these transportation needs.

Yeah, won’t come anywhere close to solving the problem but it would siphon even more money off from the Rainy Day fund. Yes, this is the final problem — the Rainy Day fund is a political slush fund that politicians tap on a regular basis and it needs to stop. NOW.

I feel we need to vote against every transfer of money out of that account. I think we need to hold politicians accountable for its depletion. Our recent history in the last 5 to 10 years shows how rocky the economy can be. We need to be prepared, as individuals and as a polity, to weather uncertain or hard times.

So, that is why I voted against it.

What do you folks think; would you vote for or against?

 

I’m Realizing….

….how spoiled I have been in the past.   For example, gas prices:

AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average unleaded price at the pump this week is $2.89, a drop of 10 cents from a week ago. The national average now is $3.08.

AAA says of the metropolitan areas in Texas, drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth are paying the least at $2.80 while motorists in Corpus Christi pay the most at $2.92.

 

In many locations in the DFW area, gas is selling at $2.69 per gallon. Recently, in other locations I paid $3.25 per gallon.

And if I can take a moment to talk to Texas Drivers, I would appreciate it. Now, I’m not going to let you folks off the hook. Far from it, I have good reasons to keep reminding folks of the rules of the road. I found out, recently just how much worse it could be.

I have complained about distracted driver’s in the past; people with their noses stuck in electronic devices. I found a place where they don’t have ‘distracted drivers'; they have people so far out in LaLa Land that they only occasionally remember they are in a car.

I have complained about people being slow off the mark at stoplights; I found a place where people wait until the yellow light comes on to start across the intersection.

I have complained about people who wander into my lane on the road; I found a place where people don’t understand the meaning of those lines on the road. I could go on but right now, I’m going to relax, mellow out and remind myself how much I really like Texas.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Timing

This comment, one of many like it, regarding the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson Mo. really shows that the writers spend way too much watching television legal dramas and cop shows.

The fact that the Ferguson Police didn’t release a police report until weeks after the incident, which was full of redactions, and under pressure from the Department of Justice leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

 

 

I will be one of the first people to get onto police departments about releasing information; all too often they decide what the people ‘needs to know’ instead of freely releasing information. But in this case I really don’t think the criticism is warranted.
Turn it around — let’s say it was Michael Brown under suspicion of murder; how many people would want information released the next day, eh?

Part of the blame for this is the unfair consideration given to the timing of an officer making a statement. Many jurisdictions allow an officer 2 or 3 days to make an official statement. Somehow I just don’t see those same officers giving you or I that much time before we wandered in to make an official statement. Nor do we get to review the official videos, transcripts, etc before making our statements.

That said –  is it fair to take 7 days to release a police report on the shooting? Absolutely. Make sure you get the facts straight, make sure the information hasn’t been misunderstood (Can anyone say NBC and “effing coon”?) — this goes for both sides of the equation. I don’t want the police casting blame on someone who doesn’t deserve it and I don’t want the police being tried in the press — by the government statements at least. We can’t stop the race-baiters and media outlets from doing that but we can control what the government does.

We have enough reasons for criticizing the government; let’s not make up more especially when it just stirs people up with imagined slights.

Please join the discussion.

 

 

 

 

Still Less Than A CHL

Mike Norman, opinion writer at the Star-Telegram, is whining about the Voter ID law. If anyone has been following the law in the media, you know it has been a confusing tale. One court strikes it down, another re-instates it. It’s been going back and forth at the legal equivalent of a ping pong match.

In fact, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi found the requirements “draconian” and ruled last week that the voter ID law passed by the Legislature in 2011 discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters.

And, according to the evidence in a nine-day trial, that’s what the Legislature wanted.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals brushed those findings aside — didn’t even address them — on Tuesday in ruling that because voting is just days away, the state should be allowed to enforce its voter ID rules as planned.

And to be frank, I am very conflicted on whether or not I want the courts to strike this down.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I think having to show ID is a good idea. This is a right that only exists because a person is a member of the polity; so showing proof of that is not violating a fundamental right.

Where I get my confusion is how we, gun owners and pro-rights supporters, could use the case.

 

It’s not hard to get the proper ID, proponents say. But evidence showed that for hundreds of thousands of Texans — disproportionately, African-Americans and Hispanics who are poor — it is difficult.

For them, the travel time to the nearest Department of Public Safety office to get a free ID card is 90 minutes or more. When they get there, they must have the proper documentation, which typically includes a certified copy of their birth certificate.

If they were born in Texas and can make an in-person visit to the proper records office and know how to ask for it, they can get a birth certificate for the cut rate of $2 or $3.

If they need to get it by mail, need to correct errors in their certificate, were not registered at birth or need a certificate from another state, the cost is at least $22 or as much as $47.

Those costs led the judge to declare the new voter ID law an unconstitutional poll tax, although that was not the primary focus of the trial.

Emphasis mine in the above paragraph. I looked up Taxi cab rates in the Dallas Fort Worth area and assumed about 60 miles travel in 90 minutes round trip. At $2.25 for initial charge and $1.80 per mile; that works out to about $110. Add in the $3 charge in person cost to get a Birth Certificate and round up to about $115 dollars.

Still less than the basic costs of a Concealed Handgun License at $140. Plus the $10 for the fingerprints, something the Voter ID does not require. Plus the $10 or so for Photos. Plus the $35 to $150 dollars for the class, Plus the $5 Proficiency Test fee. Even if we double the costs for the taxi instead of bus fare or getting a friend to take the person to get their birth certificate — it still is less burdensome than getting a Concealed Handgun License. And let’s not forget that each and every applicant for a CHL has to have a valid form of photo identification already !!!!!!

 

In fact, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi found the requirements “draconian” and ruled last week that the voter ID law passed by the Legislature in 2011 discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters.

Hence my dilemma. If it is based on cost and burden; it should be clear that having to get a license to carry in public would have a greater impact on African-American and Hispanic voters. But of course that assume the judge trying the case would apply the law in a logical, rational and consistent basis. Most of the time I haven’t seen that happen when we are talking about restrictions on 2nd Amendment issues.

 

I think that the legislation will get around, eventually, to making Open Carry legal with a license. Then it is a short stride from there (huge hurdle but small step) to Constitutional Carry. So I’m not putting too much hope on the courts forcing the Legislation to act.

So how do the 3 or 4 people still reading this feel? Should we require a photo id for voting? Do you support the courts striking down or keeping the Voter ID law?

But Remember “Gun Death” Is THE METRIC

for the anti-rights cultists like Moms Demanding Attention or Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors Against Guns.

The over-prescribing of painkillers is fuelling nearly 17,000 annual deaths from overdoses in the United States as well as a rise in heroin use, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

The CDC reviewed 2010-2012 mortality data from 28 states to measure rising fatal heroin overdose rates and determine how the increases were tied to prescription painkillers.

The study found that the death rate from heroin overdoses doubled during that two-year span to from 1 to 2.1 deaths per 100,000 people, while deaths from prescription opioid drugs overdoses declined from 6 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000.

17,000 annual deaths is about the same as firearm related suicides and about double the number of firearm related homicides– but as friend Weer’d Beard says ‘Hey, but only “gun Deaths” count!

The Homicide rate is 4.7 per 100,000 people. If the antis were really interested in saving lives; I would suggest they start focusing on this. Of course we know that isn’t their goal.

 

Importance of Communicating

Wow…..this video is a little tough to watch because it a.) shows the shooting, b.) shows a cop who shots very quickly and c.) illustrates the dangers we face, especially those of us who carry.

 

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First, I’m not saying the victim, the driver, did anything wrong. Definitely could have, should have done one very important thing much better — communicate to the officer. Letting the officer know “My license is in my wallet which is on the seat/in the console/etc” might have prevented this. NOT saying he is at fault though.

 

I understand how much stress is involved in being a cop; I want to make the process as stress free as possible so I don’t make any sudden moves. I try not to do anything that could be misinterpreted and IF I think there is a chance, I’m going to inform the officer before hand. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. I have something of a lead foot; been stopped several times for speed violations. Deserved them so I’m not complaining. I just recognize especially as someone with a Concealed Handgun License the factors involved in a traffic stop. I think people can get conflicted by the “don’t say anything to the cops” mentality and the desire not to give too much information to the police. I don’t advocate saying anything to the police other than what you are doing or better – what you are going to do before you do it.
Don’t explain anything you don’t have to, don’t volunteer information unrelated to the exact action you are doing or need to explain regarding the interaction.

I really believe this video is a great anecdote that shows how too many officers view the people they are sworn to protect — as enemies out to kill them. Not every person they encounter is out to kill them. This guy was just following the command as fast as he could. Instead of interpreting that behavior as it was; the officer saw it completely differently. I’ve talked about this often enough here, I don’t think I need to dwell on it too much more.

It happens and will continue to happen until we make departments and officers change.

 

Please join the discussion.

 

Why Carry At Kroger?

Because crime can happen even there.

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A 25-year-old man said he was attacked by the group as he walked to his car. Two Kroger employees, 17 and 18, ran to help the man. Both were repeatedly hit in the head and face.

The teens told police pumpkins “in excess of 20 pounds” were thrown on their heads while they were on the ground.

Police say both teens lost consciousness.

Eventually, a security guard stopped the attack.

So Shannon Watts until human nature evolves to such a point where attacks like this don’t happen; please stop trying to restrict our right to protect ourselves, eh.

Contrast that attack with this one from Wisconsin where a violent gang of teens encountered someone carrying a concealed firearm.

 

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Never forget that Moms Demanding Action want every single one of us to be unarmed when faced with similar situations.

 

Please join the discussion.