Horns Down

Horns Up: Texas' uninsured rate dips slightly 

The percentage of uninsured adults aged 18 to 64 in Texas dropped slightly from 24.8 percent in September 2013 to 23.5 percent in March 2014, according to a report released by the Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation. Though the change resulted from an increase in employer-sponsored health care and not from new sign-ups in the federal marketplace, we see the uptick as positive news. More than 5 million adults in our state lack insurance, according to the Baker Institute. Even a 1 percentage-point decrease in that amount deserves attention. The report also projected that 746,000 Texans had signed up for insurance on the exchange, which is certainly a good start considering Texas has consistently had the highest percent of uninsured residents among the 50 states for several years, and the insurance exchanges in Texas have only recently been rolled out.

Horns Down: Officer uses Taser on high school student

An officer who had been called to break up a fight between students at Stony Point High School in Round Rock on Monday used a Taser on a 16-year-old boy during lunchtime. Though the boy was not badly injured, he was taken to the hospital to have the Taser probes removed. If the use of a Taser on a minor wasn’t upsetting enough, the child who was tased actually did not take part in the fight — rather, he was trying to restrain one of the students who was taking part. This is the second instance of a high school student being tased this year, and although this instance didn’t result in a death like the previous one, there is no excuse for the use of a Taser in either situation. As we said in an editorial earlier this year, there is simply no logical reason why school resource officers should carry and use weapons as forceful as Tasers on children in Texas schools. The sooner our police realize this, the better it will be for all Texans.

Horns Down: Lieutenant governor candidates all for creationism in schools

At a televised debate in Dallas on Monday night, the four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor — state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples; and incumbent David Dewhurst — squared off on campaign issues ranging from abortion to gun rights, immigration policy and marijuana decriminalization. With only 10 minutes remaining in the hour-long event, moderator Shelley Kofler asked the candidates if creationism belongs in public schools, and their responses were downright disturbing. Despite the fact that the First Amendment patently forbids it, all four candidates came out strongly in support of teaching creationism  — or, as its defenders like to call it, “intelligent design” — in public schools. The candidates did concede that students should also learn about evolution, but their insistence that pure religious dogma belongs on the same level as a veritable scientific theory is offensive, especially when cloaked in the all-too-typical defense of letting students and parents make their own decisions. Horns down, because religion doesn’t belong in science classrooms, or anywhere in the public schools, for that matter.

 

Horns Up: Perry appeals for federal disaster relief

On Monday, Gov. Rick Perry sent an appeal letter to the White House urging the president to allocate Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to the areas of Central Texas that were damaged by flooding in October and November of last year. Perry estimates the damage adds up to more than $48 million. Though Perry is probably the last person you’d expect to reach out to the federal government for aid, horns up to Perry for putting aside his frustration with the feds and doing what he can to help the Central Texas victims of last year’s flood, even months later.

 

Horns Down: Congressman swears he wasn't missing

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, was found after a month of unknown whereabouts. Or, as his office is trying to spin it, he merely resurfaced and was never actually missing in the first place. Stockman now claims that he simply left the country to participate in an official visit to the Middle East with the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Though the delegation’s leader, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, confirmed Stockman was traveling with committee, Stockman was absent for longer than his other colleagues on the trip, according to the Dallas Morning News. The unaccounted-for vacation days, however, aren’t the only weird thing about Stockman lately. Though the representative is challenging U.S. Sen. and minority whip John Cornyn in the Texas GOP primary in March, his campaign has only $32,000 in cash on hand, along with $163,000 in debt. He has also been slacking off on his day job, having missed 17 straight votes in the House since Jan. 9, according to the Austin American-Statesman. And his campaign has been dodging questions left, right and center — including those about alleged campaign finance violations. While we’re glad the congressman has safely “resurfaced,” we can’t help but long for the day when Texas politicians will make the news for strong governance and not just for strange behavior.