When the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives gavel into session Tuesday, Republican Speaker Joe Straus will be looking to keep his seat as the top man; to do so he only needs a simple majority: 76 votes.
However, he does have a challenger: Republican David Simpson from Longview. It is only Simpson's second term as a representative, but the former businessman was also mayor of the City of Avinger in 1993.
Lawmakers are back under the dome of the Texas Capitol for a new session for a new age in politics, with the reminder of what happened two years ago in the back of their minds.
Two years ago, education funding was slashed by $5.4 billion, the use of the state’s emergency "rainy day" fund was frowned upon, and a controversial Voter ID bill got through both chambers but was found unconstitutional against minority voters by the court system.
According to State Comptroller Susan Combs, Texas lawmakers will have will have $101.4 billion to work with during the next legislative session. Combs said the estimated $96 billion in revenue from taxes, fees and other sources is up nearly $20 billion from previous years.
"General revenue collections in 2008 and 2009 -- leading into the [legislative] session -- totaled $79.6 billion," Combs said. "In 2010 - 2011, as we hit bottom and began to climb out the revenues were $4.5 billion less."
Craft brewing companies have provided plenty of fun to beer fans, and according to a report by University of Texas at San Antonio economics professor Scott Metzger (who also happens to run his very own brewery, Freetail Brewing Company) have generated $608 million in the Lone Star State.
Metzger estimates that by 2020, the industry will generate $5.6 billion, a figure he calls conservative.
A New York Times article reveals that the cyclist is facing mounting pressure from his support network -- which includes wealthy donors to his Livestrong foundation -- to clear his conscious and admit to using performance-enhancing drugs. The article also points out that Armstrong has been wanting to compete in triathlons and other events; events that usually adhere to World Anti-Doping Code regulations, from which he has received a lifetime ban.
Lance Armstrong, who this fall was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and barred for life from competing in all Olympic sports, has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation.
It was 10 years ago that I met the remarkable Mexican soprano Olivia Gorra, at the 2003 Festival Internacional de Cervantino. She had just made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Turandot, with more performances to come.
The pride of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Olivia performed an outdoor program at Guanajuato's Alhondiga which was capped off by a rousing set with her fellow Veracruzanos, the folkloric ensemble Tlen Huicani. Despite her numerous opera house successes, I doubt she has ever had them dancing in the aisles at the Met.
Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. This weekend marks the official end of the Christmas season for many cultures.
The Epiphany is celebrated around the world in many different ways. This day marks the manifestation of the Son of God as a human being in Jesus Christ. It’s also the day marked by the visitation of the Three Kings to the infant Jesus.