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And that’s not all!

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Horace McQueen ColumnBy Horace McQueen

Those talented folks who never have problems with their computers are to be admired. Mine has been down—dead and cold—for nearly two weeks. Between Andy at AB computer in Palestine, our son Dale and very helpful neighbor Michael Streetman, hopefully we can use the apparatus again. At least till the next lightning storm fries the system in whole or parts again.

A major concern of mine is the treatment of animals entrusted to our care. No matter the size, breed or temperament of the animal—if they need food, water or just a chance to be free of human bondage—it’s a call for help. As we drive the highways and byways of East Texas. It seems there are still some citizens who should never have any animal in their care. Two of these “cattlemen” are close by. Their cattle are flat starving. The poor mama cows can barely keep themselves alive on the sparse rations—that means sorry hay and little else—provided by the owner. And pity those cows with a calf at side. They are like mama--thin, ribs showing and hoping to survive another day.

The third set of cattle is owned by a family that knows nothing about raising or feeding livestock. Any hay they feed is doled out in bits and pieces—and probably is the sorriest hay around. I would be surprised if the calves from these three “ranches” weigh 300 pounds at eight months of age. But what can be done? In reality very little—except to say that if a “rancher” does not intend to treat his or her cattle with the care they are entitled to, load them up and send ‘em to the sale barn! You can bet your boots that the new owner will provide a better home than they had.

And finally, just keep on keeping on—spending our tax money on projects of little value to our average working folks. Our so-called “economic development” experts never cease to promote the use of tax funds for subsidies and gifts to multi-billion dollar companies. Their story is that the only way to bring their production plants to a new location is to provide subsidies or it won’t happen. If a project is really worthwhile, let it stand on its’ own and not burden local taxpayers. Or is that too much to ask for?  A little humor can brighten the day! A died in the wool Texan had to relocate to a state up north—where she worked for three years; Moving back home, she was asked about her adventure out-of-state. She said she detested the weather, the food and the people! Other than that, she had no comment. That’s –30—This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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In for a penny, in for a pound

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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Like most teens in high school, I went through an awkward phase.

As a military dependent, and attending numerous schools in numerous states and countries, it was a bit difficult making friends, since we probably would move soon, and honestly, what would be the point?

So I developed a coping mechanism — the library.

Books were transportive for me, in that my imagination placed me in the story. My top genres of fiction were, no surprise, science fiction, but also mystery and a bit of comedy. If those could be mixed, that was even better (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” trio of five books come to mind).

I continued that throughout my adult life because I enjoyed reading so much more than television.

Had those books been taken from me, or redacted in some way, my teen years would have been a bit more miserable.

So I’m a bit ambivalent about banning books, which is the current bugaboo plaguing education in this country.

On the one hand, there should be no limits on knowledge. I hate censorship.


What I am squarely behind is keeping certain subjects for school children age-appropriate, and since education should be done with a parent’s input, and not dictated by social agenda, certain topics need to be made available only when a child is developed enough mentally to understand them.

There should never be books instructing elementary school children on the proper methods for sex, or drug use, or advocating choices on lifestyle, such as transgenderism. Those topics should never be part of a proper education; the fundamentals, or the three R’s, need to be the focus, as well as practical applications of such.

I’m also puzzled why school libraries seem to be the sole focus of this, since this isn’t the only medium children are exposed to. The internet, television, music, etc., all are available and all contain items that can be deemed inappropriate.

Also, these items come with warnings or at least the ability to limit access (again, something in the purview of parents).

Many of you remember the government’s foray into “protecting the children from themselves” through the Parents Music Resource Center or the Motion Picture Association of America. I say through, since it’s now required that music items come complete with warnings for explicit lyrics; all television programming is rated for the appropriate age level; and motion pictures have been required to be rated for age and content.

All of this seems to me to be oxymoronic, in that on the one hand, we must keep children safe and wholesome, and on the other, we’re told that we’re book-burning censorship Nazis for keeping kids away from books that give illustrated instructions about sex.

Televisions come with the ability to limit access to inappropriate material through parental controls; computers and cell phones have similar abilities, allowing parents to decide what children can see and when. Kids can be kept out of movies rated R or NC-17 through a simple ID check, or a denial from parents.

Ultimately, the parents should be the ones to make the call.

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State hospital pay increases

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My Five CentsOn January 25, 1839 the official flag of Texas was adopted by the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas. It specified the look of the iconic Lone Star Flag that we know and love today. The colors were chosen to signify certain attributes: red for courage, white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty. The Texas flag is the only flag of an American state that previously served as a flag for an independent country.

Here are five things happening around your state:

1. Starting pay at state

hospitals and state

supported living centers increases

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced it is increasing salaries and starting pay at state hospitals and state supported living centers to combat staffing shortages and bring hospital beds back online. HHSC said there are 700 state hospital beds offline due to a shortage of staffers.

The commission is hoping to recruit and attract workers, reduce vacancies, and bring more beds back online. There are approximately 1,805 openings in state hospitals and 2,137 openings in state supported living centers. Registered nurses with three years’ experience could have starting salaries as high has $90,000 per year. Psychiatric nursing assistants and direct support professionals would start between $17.50 and $21 an hour depending on experience. Current employees are also receiving salary increases.

2. Bill filed to make catalytic converter theft a state felony

Senator John Whitmire and Senator Carol Alvarado jointly filed Senate Bill 224 which seeks to increase the criminal penalty for catalytic converter theft. For the past several years, there has been a marked increase in thefts of catalytic converters. Even when thieves are caught in possession of stolen catalytic converters it can be difficult to prove the case. This bill seeks to increase the penalty for stealing catalytic converters to a state jail felony and makes it easier for law enforcement to charge those who possess catalytic converters unlawfully. The bill adds additional penalties for criminals who stole catalytic converters while in possession of a firearm. Criminals engaging in catalytic converter theft have become violent and there have been many stories from around the state of Texans being injured or killed during the theft. It is time to give law enforcement more tools to combat these violent crimes.

3. Senate committee assignments announced

This week Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released committee assignments for the 88th Legislature. I was honored to be reappointed as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and remain a member of Senate Finance, Business and Commerce, Local Government, and Redistricting Committees. The Senate Finance Committee will begin holding hearings next week to start the budget process. Each state agency will come before the committee and discuss their appropriations request with the committee. Members of the committee will have the opportunity to ask questions and get further clarification on details of the budget before further deliberations begin.

4. Afghan soldier arrested as US-Mexico border has federal immigration charges dropped

Abdul Wasi Safi is a former Afghan special forces intelligence officer who worked directly with US forces in Afghanistan. During the collapse of the Afghan government, he was unable to escape the country on any of the US military flights out of Kabul. He became a target of the Taliban once they took over the country. He went into hiding for months before he trekked across countries and continents to make it to the US-Mexico border in an attempt to join his brother who lives in Houston as a US citizen. He was apprehended by federal authorities and charged with a criminal misdemeanor. He has spent nearly four months in a detention center, but now an assistant US attorney asked the judge this week to dismiss the case against him in the interest of justice and the judge agreed. He will now continue on his journey toward asylum and will hopefully be released and reunited with his brother soon.

5. Jim and Margaret Perkins honored for higher education initiatives

This week it was my pleasure to honor Jim and Margaret Perkins on the Senate floor for all of their contributions to our communities, specific in higher education. This year, they were recognized with the 2023 Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award. Leaders from more than 100 institutions of higher education chose them for their work supporting East Texas students, institutions, and communities. Starting in 2014, the Perkins worked with Tyler Junior College to establish a scholarship program for local high school graduates known as the “TJC Promise,” which has supported hundreds of students pursue post-secondary education. Congratulations to the Perkins for this tremendous achievement!

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Legislators await committee assignments

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Trent AshbyOn January 25th, 1839, the Republic of Texas adopted the iconic flag we know and cherish today. A simple but bold design that features a single five-point star surrounded by a blue field with two horizontal stripes, the upper stripe white, and the lower red. Colors in the flags of both the United States and Texas mean red for courage, white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty. Among the several designs considered for our state flag, the Lone Star stood out as particularly meaningful to those who created it.

I am proud that Texas still serves as a beacon for all who believe in personal freedom, limited government, and family values.  Texas has prevailed and cemented itself as representing the American Dream and the land of opportunity.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol:

With the 88th Legislative Session underway, House members are eagerly awaiting for the Speaker to appoint members to their respective committees. Members generally serve on two to three committees of varying jurisdictions, often based on their expertise or relevance to their district. To ensure a well-balanced approach to public policy, Speakers have historically worked to include members from diverse backgrounds, encompassing all regions of the state. In the next few weeks, I look forward to sharing my newly appointed committee assignments with the residents in House of District 9.

Members of the Legislature are also waiting on orders from the Governor, which he will deliver in his upcoming State of the State Address. The Governor’s “emergency items” allow the Legislature to begin conducting public hearings immediately and consider bills on these specific topics. This process, outlined in the Texas Constitution, enables members of the Legislature to focus solely on those most pressing issues at the start of a session. During the first sixty days of a legislative session, members may only act on the governor’s emergency items.

These past couple weeks, as members continue to stand by for orders, our days have consisted of meetings with constituents, holding stakeholder meetings, and filing legislation. Once legislation begins to make its way through the committee process, I want to encourage all to reach out to my Capitol or district office to let us know your thoughts. It’s important to highlight that I serve as your voice in Austin, and input from folks back home is critical to ensure I am properly representing your views and interests.

The mobile office is on the road again and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: February 1 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Feb.  8 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Court Room in Livingston from 9 a.m to 11 a.m., or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9 to 11 a.m., or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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Too much for just one mind to comprehend

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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There are times when I cast about for column ideas, scanning pop culture, news, social media, etc., for inspiration.

Many times when I do that, though, I’m regaled with what can only be evidence of the decline of civilization and a return to barbarism, while at the same time finding that common sense on a variety of subjects has left the building.

Here’s a few things that have drawn out the heaviest sighs from me this week.

•In Memphis, there was another death of a suspect in custody at the hands of police officers, members of some sort of special Scorpion Unit or whatever, that is flying under the radar because it doesn’t fit the well-crafted narrative: Black police officers allegedly killed a Black man, who was pulled over for the audacious crime of suspicion of reckless driving.

While the details are still forthcoming, the five officers were fired and now face murder charges.

This tragedy is again one that never should have happened, but perhaps it will serve as a catalyst for change, both in how police behave with suspects and that there really needs to be some effort put into finding the cause for the increase in violence on both sides.

It really doesn’t help to call this racism or claim it’s rooted in white supremacy, either. That narrative won’t hold water.

•A Taco Bell customer in Wales, England, who was upset about something, was laid out by an employee. There’s video, which again shows how something so simple escalated into something that required police, ambulances and altercation.

I’m finding that talking about things, and learning to come to a compromise, have become a thing of the past, and anyone with hurt feelings can be justified in their rage response.

Whatever happened to “Make Love, Not War?”

•When Joe Biden took office, gas prices were below $2. Shortly thereafter, and ever since, the prices, while fluctuating, have stayed above $3 and sometimes even more.

In the last week, I’ve watched the price go up. Again. So how is it that our vaunted government officials claim that this sitting president has lowered gas prices? Why does our elitist snob leaders insist that we have the memory of gnats and need them to Newspeak us into joy joy?

•In the past two weeks, there have been two mass shootings in California that have resulted in the death of 14 people.

California. The land where no gun law is unappreciated.

The response has been predictable in that there’s calls for more gun laws. However, anyone with any kind of ability to read and connect dots can see it’s not about the guns. There’s a definite pendulum swing in society making it more violent and angry.

I think it’s long past time to focus on root causes, and for my money, start with morality. Without a moral base, laws are essentially just words. A deeper connection with a deity will definitely help, and a country like ours that spends as much time as it does fighting the very thing that will help, what with separation of church and state and banning prayer and religious displays everywhere, will only descend farther into madness.

Can’t fill a God-sized hole with feelings and wokeism, no matter how hard you try.

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