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Fort Hood renamed after Korean, Vietnam war hero

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Capitol HighlightsIt’s official. Fort Hood, named for a high-ranking Confederate officer in the Civil War, has been renamed Fort Cavazos, in honor of native Texan Richard E. Cavazos, the country’s first Hispanic four-star general.

Fort Cavazos is the Army’s largest armored, active-duty military installation, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. It is one of nine that are being renamed around the country, based on recommendations from a naming committee commissioned by Congress to remove the names, symbols and displays that honor the Confederacy.

Cavazos was widely decorated for his service during the Korean and Vietnam wars, receiving two Distinguished Service Cross medals during his military career. He died in 2017 at 88.

State rep expelled from Texas House

The Texas House voted 147-0 to expel state Rep. Bryan Slaton after an investigating committee determined he engaged in inappropriate behavior with a 19-year-old legislative aide. Slaton, R-Royce City, was found to have had sexual intercourse with the aide, who works in his office, and to have supplied alcohol to an underaged person on at least three occasions, the Statesman reported.

Slaton resigned the day before the vote to expel him but would have remained an officeholder and been paid until a successor was elected through a special election.

“Expulsion of a member of this body is rare,” House Speaker Dade Phelan said. “Mr. Slaton’s predatory behavior merits such a consequence. I am proud of my colleagues for holding each of us accountable.”

Slaton is the first House member to be expelled since 1927, according to the Statesman.

Texans enjoy a cooler-than-average April

The state enjoyed somewhat cooler temperatures in April than in years past, according to Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board. The eastern half of the state experienced above-average rainfall, though drought conditions persisted in the central part of the state, from Laredo to the Panhandle.

“Precipitation varied considerably, with half the state, East and coastal Texas, experiencing well-above-average rainfall, while the other half, West Texas and the Panhandle, received well-below-normal precipitation,” Wentzel wrote.

Drought conditions dropped 12 percentage points compared to the end of March, with 55 percent of the state now under drought. The arrival of the El Niño weather system by fall is forecast to bring above-average rainfall to the state and lead to widespread drought relief by the end of 2023.

Eight more counties added to disaster declaration

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has added eight more Texas counties to a disaster declaration after an early February ice storm caused considerable damage across wide swaths of the state, Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week.

“This update will help support ongoing recovery efforts in Texas communities impacted by Winter Storm Mara in February,” Abbott said.

The eight added to the 13 already approved by FEMA are Falls, Hopkins, Red River, Anderson, Gillespie, Kerr, Kimble and Limestone counties. The counties are now eligible for federal funding for debris removal and repairs to infrastructure.

House considers modified version of Senate voucher bill

An 80-page version of the Senate’s school voucher proposal is now before the House education committee, the Texas Tribune reported. This version would cut the number of students eligible for the program, modify the state’s standardized testing program, and eliminate the Senate bill’s restriction on teaching about gender and sexual orientation.

A move to get the bill quickly out of committee failed after state Rep. Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd, questioned why the committee wanted to move forward without holding a public hearing.

“You’re trying to bring an 80-page substitution to this body and force a vote without thoughtful deliberation,” Bailes said. House committees have until May 20 to vote on Senate bills to advance them to the full floor.

The Senate version of the bill would give parents who opt out of the public school system up to $8,000 in taxpayer money to pay for a child’s private schooling and related educational expenses, such as textbooks or tutoring.

Casino bill dies; sports betting advances

The bid to bring casino gambling to Texas is again officially dead, the Texas Tribune reported.

“Members, I do know when it’s time to fold ’em,” state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said Friday as he postponed consideration of House Joint Resolution 155 until Jan. 12, 2027. A related bill sponsored by state Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, was also postponed until after the session.

A separate bill to legalize online sports betting barely made it out of the House. Both measures required a two-thirds majority to be put on the ballot as proposed constitutional amendments. The Tribune reported that bill faces long odds in the Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer, has said his chamber does not have enough votes to pass it.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Christian Nationalism and the malevolent perversion of Christianity

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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“The churches greatest mistakes occur when the people of God honor what a leader says without examining that instruction in the light of scripture. (American Theologian Bryan Chapell)

Matthew 24:24 “ For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. ” (KJV)

In recent years, the rise of Christian nationalism has been a major cause for concern, not just for religious scholars, but for anyone who values the principles of inclusivity, tolerance, and respect. While the United States has a long history of religious diversity and freedom, its growing influence threatens to undermine these core values. Christian Nationalists are engaged in transforming a faith based on love and compassion into a tool for political and social exclusion. It is essential that we recognize the danger posed by this malevolent perversion of Christianity.

The most concerning aspect of Christian nationalism is its distortion and misrepresentation of Christian values. At its core, Christianity teaches love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness. It advocates for the well-being of all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs or backgrounds. Christian nationalism selectively applies biblical teachings to justify discrimination, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance, betraying the very essence of Christianity.

Simply put it is a distorted ideology that conflates American identity with a particular brand of Christianity. It intertwines religious beliefs with political power and fosters a sense of entitlement and exclusivity among its adherents. This ideology manipulates Christian teachings and selectively applies biblical principles to advance a narrow agenda, often disregarding the fundamental teachings of compassion, love, and humility found in Christianity.

It has gained momentum by aligning itself with conservative political movements, which exploit religious sentiments to consolidate power. Politicians who embrace this ideology often use Christianity as a tool to advance their policy objectives, implying that their political agenda is divinely inspired. This dangerous combination of faith and politics not only undermines the separation of church and state but also distorts the true essence of Christianity.

Christian nationalism promotes a divisive "us versus them" mentality, which we have seen in recent history defining American identity in exclusively Christian terms and alienating those who do not adhere to its narrow interpretation. By elevating one faith above all others, it erodes the history of religious diversity that has marked American society for much of our history. It fosters an environment of exclusion and intolerance, which is fundamentally incompatible with the values of equality and religious freedom that our nation holds dear.

Its growing influence poses a threat to the principles upon which our democracy is built. It attempts to fuse religious beliefs with the machinery of governance, undermining the secular foundation upon which our nation was established. This erosion of the separation of church and state undermines long held principles of fairness and equality that are essential for a healthy democratic society.

It also perpetuates social divisions by propagating a narrative that the country should be preserved as a Christian nation. This exclusionary vision fuels fear and animosity towards those who do not fit into its narrow definition of American identity. These divisions weaken the social fabric and stand in the way of progress toward a more inclusive and equitable society.

If we are going to combat the growing influence of Christian nationalism, it is essential that we reaffirm the principles of religious freedom and inclusivity that have long been embraced in in this country. Religious leaders, scholars, and citizens must engage in open dialogue. We must challenge the distorted narrative spread by Christian nationalists. We must help reclaim the core teachings of love, compassion, and understanding that is the true spirit of Christianity and counteract the divisive elements of this ideology.

Political leaders must resist the temptation to use their power to exploit religious beliefs for personal gain. They must themselves uphold the separation of church and state, must ensure that policies are crafted based on reason, evidence, and the best interests of all citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

Christian nationalism represents a malevolent distortion of actual Christian belief as outlined in the New Testament and illustrated by Jesus’ love for all mankind. If it gains control, it will result in slavery, not freedom.

Jim Powers writes opinion columns. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

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America is entering its teenager phase

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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As a quasi-musician and definite music lover, I spent a lot of time playing and talking about songs, playing, music trends and the lot.

One of my musically inclined friend said something that was pretty telling when we were talking about the differences in lyrics and topics over the years.

I can remember most of the song lyrics from tunes I loved growing up in the 60s and 70s (even though I can’t remember why I went into the kitchen), which for the most part were about love and hope and all kinds of positivity.

I lamented that lyrics nowadays were dark, hateful, narcissistic and containing all the depth of a sheet of paper, and he said that it was easy to craft music to pander to the disillusioned, as most teens are. (Trust me, I have two of them. Yikes.)

Many countries around the world have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and have, for lack of a better term, matured not only politically but socially. America, though, is barely 246 years old, so in the grand scheme of things, is really just getting started.

Both in the political and social sense, we’ve gone from a staunch sense of wonder and independence to grasping at any little thing that might fill a real or perceived void. You can see that with the rampaging “fad” of transgenderism, which has been shown to be a cultural phenomenon and not a scientific one.

Think of it like this. The 60s, with its explosion of creativity, interests, social interactions and expression was us as a society entering the terrible teens. The following decades continued that trend, with experimentation in all manner of social and political discourse and ideals in an effort to move away from the dour authoritarianism of the past.

This isn’t about transgenderism in and of itself; it’s instead about us as a people trying to figure out who and what we are, and what we want to be when we grow up. The sad thing is, as with many teenagers, is the damage that is done by embracing things without much thought.

Our leaders have gone from being essentially arms-length parents — leaving us to our own designs — to being the doting helicopter parent that indulges any whim and defends our desire. While that may be an endearing trait, it does more damage than good, as any parent worth their salt knows.

Kids are unhappy? Given them everything, tell them it’s free, and replace it if it gets broken. If a tragedy happens, rush in to “do something” like pass laws against guns or that allow genetic males to play in female sports. While in the short term is keeps society (mostly) happy, in the long term it becomes a problem that will require even more interference to solve, which the government will be happy to do, since that keeps them “loved” and in power.

Politics of the immediate equates to giving a child the thing that has caused the tantrum and puts the burden of responsibility on bureaucracy. Better to back off and become the more mature adults.

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Honor, celebrate the women who have shaped us

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Trent AshbyBy Rep. Trent Ashby
Representing District 9

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we are reminded of the incredible impact that moms have on our lives. Mothers are the ones who guide us through life’s challenges, offer support and encouragement, and provide us with unconditional love. This special day serves as a reminder to honor and celebrate the wonderful women who have shaped us into the men and women God called us to be. This Mother’s Day, I hope you’ll take the time to express your love and appreciation to a mother, grandmother, or anyone else who has helped guide you in the way you should go. To all the amazing women out there – Happy Mother’s Day!

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

As the 88th Legislative Session draws to a close in just two weeks, the House chamber has been deliberating and voting well into the night to meet the finish line. Now that the deadline for House legislation has passed, the House has shifted its focus to Senate bills. Before the deadline, the House passed a comprehensive package of legislation enhancing border security on top of the already allocated $4.6 billion in the House budget. There are several new programs and measures focused on addressing the crisis at our southern border, and these initiatives are outlined in House Bill 7 and House Bill 800.

HB 7 would establish several new grant programs and initiatives, including the Border Protection Court Grant Program, the Border Property Damage Compensation Program, and the Border Institution Grant Program. These programs are designed to provide resources and funding to local governments, courts, and educational institutions in the border region to address border security and public safety issues. Additionally, HB 7 would create a new division, the Border Protection Unit, within the Texas Department of Public Safety. This unit would be responsible for border security operations and would prioritize the placement of peace officers from along our border. The unit would also have the authority to repel and detain individuals who cross the Texas-Mexico border unlawfully.

HB 800 focuses specifically on cracking down on common illegal activities at the southern border, such as human smuggling, burglary, trespassing, operating illegal stash houses, and evading arrest by increasing criminal penalties. The passage of HB 7 and HB 800, along with the proposed budget, reflects the state’s unwavering commitment to enhancing border security and addressing the ongoing issues at our southern border.

The mobile office is on the road again and our district director will look forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: May 17 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m. or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m., June 7 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9-11 a.m., June 14 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Courtroom in Livingston from 9-11:00 a.m. or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville 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 and our Capitol office at 512-463-0508. 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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More than 100 bills have been sent to governor

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My Five CentsThe first few bills have made it to the governor’s desk for his signature, which signals the end of session is fast approaching. Of the over 8,000 bills filed this session, just over 100 bills and joint resolutions have been sent to the governor and four have been signed into law.

Here are five things happening around your state:

House Bill 4 passes the Senate

This week the Senate passed the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act which sets standards for the collection and use of consumer data. The goal of the bill is to maximize both the utility of the rights provided to consumers and interoperability with other states to minimize compliance costs for businesses. This bill ensures that Texans have the right and the ability to control their personal data. It regulates the collection, use, processing, and treatment of consumers’ data by businesses, creates new bill of rights for Texans online, allows the Attorney General to impose penalties, and provides safety and security online. The rights guaranteed to Texans under this bill include the right to know when personal data is being collected, to access to personal data and receive it in a readable format, to correct and delete personal data, to opt out of the collection and sale of personal data, and to be protected from retaliation or discrimination for exercising these rights. Protecting Texans’ private information in the digital age is important and something I’ve been passionate about for several years. I was proud to support this legislation.

School safety legislation heard in Senate Education Committee

This week, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on House Bill 3 which was authored by Rep. Dustin Burrows and I am sponsoring in the Senate. This bill will include elements of the bill I authored, Senate Bill 11, and another school safety bill, House Bill 13 by Rep. Ken King. It includes an increase to the school safety allotment, school safety review teams and support at education service centers, establishing the Office of School Safety and Security at TEA, consequences for noncompliance with school safety regulations and rules, yearly intruder detection audits, in depth reviews by TEA on safety procedures, a TEA-approved registry process for school safety vendors, mandatory countywide school safety meetings for counties of a certain size, and many other provisions. This bill is extensive and wide-ranging. It has many components that together, I believe, will improve the safety environment of schools in our state. I look forward to continuing to work with my House and Senate colleagues to craft a meaningful piece of legislation.

Stephen F. Austin State University advances forestry, agriculture department upgrades

This week the SFA Board of Regents awarded a contract to plan and design new facilities for the forestry and agriculture departments. Currently, those departments are housed in a building that is over 70 years old. This was the first phase of the $80 million project. Funding will come partially from funds appropriated during the 87th Legislature and partially from the University of Texas system, which will be adding $35 million. The agriculture and forestry colleges at SFA are some of the best in the nation. This investment will continue the legacy of excellence well into the future.

Bridge City teacher awarded prestigious TEA fellowship

Bridge City High School teacher Hannah Landry has been selected by the Texas Education Agency for the Teacher Leadership Fellowship. The fellowship consists of a program designed to strengthen teacher leadership pathways at the state level and increase opportunities for teachers. It is a highly selective program, and it is an honor to be chosen. Over the course of the program, teachers will develop their leadership skills, collaborate with educators across the state, and provide timely input to TEA staff on initiatives and programs. Congratulations to one of our own for this achievement!

Itemized billing for health care passes House

This week the Texas House passed Senate Bill 490 by Sen. Bryan Hughes and sponsored by Rep. Caroline Harris. This bill would require hospitals to send a written itemized medical bill to a patient after providing a service when they request payment, but before sending the patient to collections. Allowing patients to have visibility into the cost of services provides

crucial patient protection measures and allows patients to check that the final bill is accurate.

Since the House made an amendment, the bill will come back to the Senate to either concur with the amendment or go to a conference committee to work out differences.

Sen. Robert Nichols represents Senate District 9, which includes Polk County, in the Texas Legislature.

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