El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for February 5th, 2009

NPT DC: Old dogs, new twits

It seems these days that everyone on Capitol Hill is talking about mod cons like Twitter and Facebook.

Earlier this week, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, mentioned both in a joke about President Obama’s Blackberry. Days before, Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas had woodenly referenced the websites in an address as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Watch Pelosi here and Cornyn here

According to ABC around fifty U.S. Congressmen use twitter, but GOP twits outnumber Democrat twits two-to-one. As frivolous as such statistics are, they are part of a larger valid insight into the rapidly shifting turf of U.S. politics. (Youtube wasn’t even around during the 2004 election, now the President uses it for his weekly address.) Indeed, Tom Craddick told NPT in an interview last month that the growth of “media exposure” in politics represented the biggest change in Texas’ political environment during his career.

PS. You can also follow NPT’s coverage of the legislature on Twitter and become NPT’s facebook friend.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 5, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT: The best use for the Asarco site?

Solar thermal power plant, Barstow, Australia

After all, the sunlight and the tower are already there….

Artists impression of a tower in operation.

Read the BBC article about a similar power station in Spain here

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 5, 2009 at 11:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Community College day

Yesterday was Community College day at the Texas Legislature. Students from all over Texas came to lobby their representatives. And they had the best lobbying technique/grassroots boon I’ve seen yet: free bbq.


“What they’re doing is going to each of their lawmakers’ offices and meeting with the representative or senator. But if they can’t, they’re at least meeting with the staff members…so we hit every single lawmaker in the state of Texas through this,” said Dr. Richard M. Rhodes, the President of El Paso Community College.

According to Rhodes, ten students from El Paso made the journey, but none were available for comments as they were busy hunting down the El Paso delegation.

“One of our students, Emma Gomez, was down on the floor with Senator (Judith) Zaffirini, when (she) read the proclamation (SR 131) on Community College day,” said Rhodes. In the last few years, university costs have risen considerably but earnings have not kept pace. This hurts community college students the most.



“We have community college students from across the state… fifty different community college district campuses and their here to visit with their legislators about making sure funding for community colleges is appropriate…and also to look at things like the price of text books,” said Rhodes who was pleased that Senator Zaffirini has filed a bill which wold inaugurate a sales tax holiday for textbooks once a year.

(Pictures: Students from Temple College and Houston Community College)

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT DC: Reyes statement on SCHIP


Legislation will benefit nearly 500,000 Texas children without health insurance

silverstrereyesWASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Silvestre Reyes (TX-16) today joined a bi-partisan majority in the House of Representatives in passing legislation to provide health care to 11 million children in low-income families. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act was approved by a vote of 290-135. Shortly after the vote, the legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“The enactment of this legislation is vitally important for the El Paso community,” Congressman Reyes said. “El Paso has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the entire country, and the current economic recession is making it even harder for many more families to afford health insurance. Having such a large percentage of uninsured children in our community places a tremendous financial burden on parents and local hospitals, as families are forced to send their children to the emergency room because they can’t afford a regular doctor’s visit. The SCHIP legislation enacted into law today will provide coverage for thousands of kids in El Paso, and I applaud President Obama and my colleagues in the Congress for making this a top priority.”

Although Texas has more uninsured children than any other state in the country, President Bush twice vetoed previous attempts to make health care more affordable for children in low-income families. According to a recent report by Families USA, titled “Left Behind: Texas’s Uninsured Children,” Texas had approximately 1.4 million uninsured children from 2005-2007, representing about 20 percent of children in the state. Texas is first in the nation for the number of uninsured children, and first nationally for the percentage of children in the state without health insurance. These numbers are likely to grow due to the current economic recession.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created in 1997 to provide health care coverage for children in families that earn too little to afford health insurance for their children but also exceed the income requirements to qualify for Medicaid. This legislation will give states the resources and incentives necessary to cover millions of uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid.

This bipartisan bill reauthorizes SCHIP through FY 2013 and preserves the coverage for all 7.1 million children currently covered by SCHIP, including 710,000 children in Texas.

The bill also extends health care coverage to 4.1 million additional low-income children, who are currently uninsured, and will cover an estimated 490,000 more children in Texas.

The bill is fully paid for through a 61 cent increase in the tobacco tax. Raising the tobacco tax also promotes children’s health by discouraging smoking in both children and adults. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 61-cent increase in the tobacco tax means that 1,873,000 fewer children will take up smoking.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized