House passes Weber’s energy research bill

By Ian White

A BIPARTISAN bill introduced by US house representative Randy Weber to boost private investment in the advancement of nuclear-energy technology passed the house unanimously on Monday.
Republican Weber, below, whose district includes Galveston County, introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities bill as HR 4084 along with representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat, and Lamar Smith, a Republican also from this state.Weber, Randy 2015
Johnson is the house science, space and technology committee’s ranking member and Smith is its chairman, while Weber is chairman of its energy subcommittee.
After the vote, the full committee issued a statement saying the representatives’ “bipartisan legislation directs the federal department of energy to prioritize federal research-and-development infrastructure that will enable the private sector to invest in advanced reactor technologies and provide a clear path forward to attract private investment for prototype development at DOE laboratories.”
If it becomes law, HR 4084 will enable private investors to form partnerships with national labs to develop new nuclear-reactor concepts. It will also clear DOE’s supercomputing division to accelerate the rate of national nuclear-energy research and development and require the department to produce a “transparent strategic” 10-year plan for prioritizing nuclear R&D programs.
The bill is supported by Burton Richter, who won the Nobel prize in physics in 1976, as well as several universities, including University Of Texas, Texas A&M, University Of Michigan, University Of Wisconsin and MIT.
Organizations supporting the measure include American Nuclear Society, American Security Project, US Nuclear Infrastructure Council, Bipartisan Policy Center, American Council For Capital Formation and Clear Path Action Fund.
And several businesses are also behind it, including General Atomics, TerraPower, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, UPower, TriAlpha, Transatomic Power and Advanced Reactor Concepts.
Weber said after the vote: “America must maintain our nuclear capabilities and continue to develop cutting-edge technology here at home.
“Without the direction provided in this bill, we’ll lose the ability to develop innovative nuclear technology and be left importing reactor designs from overseas.
“Today, we have the best nuclear engineers and manufacturing capacity in the world at home. We can’t put that expertise at risk. Even more importantly, this bill will maintain America’s capability to influence security and proliferation standards around the world as more developing nations look to nuclear energy to grow their economies.
“As a member of the [house] foreign affairs committee, I am constantly reminded of the need for American leadership in a dangerous world.”
And Smith said: “Advanced nuclear energy technology is the best opportunity to make reliable, emission-free electricity available throughout the modern and developing world. Nuclear power has been a proven source of safe and emission-free electricity for over half a century.
“Now, America’s strategic investments in advanced nuclear reactor technology can play a more meaningful role to reduce global emissions. Unfortunately, the ability to move innovative technology to the market has been stalled by government red tape.”

Court dismisses indictment against former governor

By Ed Sterling

FORMER TEXAS governor Rick Perry is no longer facing criminal charges.Perry, Rick web ready
The state’s court of criminal appeals has ordered the dismissal of a 2014 felony indictment against him by a Travis County grand jury.
The two-count indictment alleged “abuse of official capacity” and “coercion of a public servant” in connection with Perry’s veto of the budget of the state’s public integrity unit at a time when it operated under the auspices of the Travis County district attorney’s office.
Perry, left, demanded the resignation of DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who also headed the public integrity unit, after she had been arrested and jailed for driving while intoxicated in April 2013. When Lehmberg, who served a brief jail term, refused to resign, Perry vetoed the unit’s $7.5m two-year budget and issued a statement, explaining his action.
The statement read: “Despite the otherwise good work of the public integrity unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.
“This unit is in no other way held accountable to state taxpayers except through the state budgetary process. I therefore object to and disapprove of this appropriation.”
After the court of criminal appeals dismissed the indictment against him on Thursday, Perry said: “I’ve always known that the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal – they were right.”

By Lora-Marie Bernard

LAST WEEK, Congressman Randy Weber of Friendswood introduced Protect Against Schools which would allow Weber, Randy 2014 Web Readyconcealed handguns on school campuses.
Saying that most mass shootings occur on campuses that prohibit general citizens from carrying firearms, Weber said the measure would increase security.  The bill has been referred to committee.
“It is time for Congress to act in a way that will keep our children safe, and I believe that my legislation will help us do just that,” Weber, right, stated in a press release.
According to the National Review, all but two public mass shootings since at least 1950 have occurred where general citizens are banned from carrying guns, including in school zones. The review states that Obama’s executive actions would not have blocked the sale of weapons used during these tragic events.
Weber’s bill would extend concealed carry beyond police on campuses.
“Last week, I introduced the PASS Act, which will permit those not prohibited by State law from carrying a concealed firearm to carry in a school zone, qualified law enforcement officers, and qualified retired law enforcement officers.
The bill has 19 party co-sponsors, including the Texas congress representatives.

Henry calls for speedier approach to county’s transit needs

By Lora-Marie Bernard
THREE economic-development projects have made the county a prime destination for commercial competition and have spurred its need for better transportation, according to county judge Mark Henry.
The projects include the opening of a factory by a company that builds blast-resistant modular office buildings, the expansion of three hospital systems’ services and the opening of a high-end outdoors store that will sell a huge range of firearms.
Henry highlighted the developments as he gave what he called “a quick trip around the county” during the Texas City-La Marque chamber of commerce’s State Of The County And Cities luncheon on Wednesday.
“We recognize transportation as an issue,” he told the 300 or so attendees.
“People want to move here so fast and we can’t keep up with them. When they come, it’s wonderful. They buy houses, they buy things at the store and eat at restaurants and so forth. We have to have our infrastructure plan primed to stay ahead of them.”DSCF3027 edited                                                    Byron Bounds

From left, chamber board member Phil Roberts, Mark Henry, Bobby Hocking and Matt Doyle

Red Guard, which recently opened a regional headquarters at the old blimp base in Hitchcock, operates in a 60,000 square-feet factory on 10 acres. The mobile office buildings it builds can withstand strong blasts in high-risk areas and are used overseas in desert regions and oilfields, Henry said.
He described the company as a high-profile player that generates county buzz.
“What this has done is create a chain effect because site selectors started saying, ‘What? What are you doing? Where are you going?’ and then they found out why they came here,” he said.
Hitchcock has large tracts of land that remain undeveloped and Henry said that means the city is poised to attract companies that need big spaces.
In League City, the long-awaited Cabela’s is slated to open in March with a special feature sure to delight locals, Henry said.
“They have an unusually large selection of handguns and firearms at this Cabela’s or something like that,” he said. “Either way, we are really excited about it.”
More concealed-handgun carriers live in League City than in any zip-code area in Texas, Henry said, raising expectations that the store will do well.
Sixty acres of property that University Of Texas Medical Branch owns at Victory Lakes will be completely developed in partnership with MD Anderson to create a mainland medical hub, he said.
And the Memorial Hermann hospital system will also be building a new multi-care campus in League City.
“It is the first time they will come southeast,” he said. “They have gone southwest and they had gone north.”
He mentioned residential development in League City and Texas City as other new projects to transform the area.
Texas City mayor Matt Doyle told the audience the anticipated Lago Mar development beside I45 will highlight quality-of-life issues in Texas City. He said the city’s parks are being given upgrades, including playground equipment that costs as much as $50,000 per piece.
“I don’t think there is a park that we haven’t touched,” he said about the improvements.
The new disc golf course at Bay Street Park is another amenity he hopes residents and visitors will find attractive.
La Marque mayor Bobby Hocking said his city is continuing to clean up dilapidated buildings, such as the defunct Lamar elementary school, and is on a good financial footing with a good bond rating.
He touched on Texas City independent school district’s impending annexation of La Marque ISD and called it a blessing in disguise. The districts are set to merge in the summer.
“We are blessed that our children will receive quality education and no longer be burdened by hopelessness but be bound for greatness,” Hocking said.

On the move

Pow-wow to pull transport plans together

By Lora-Marie Bernard
COUNTY leaders are planning a transportation summit in a bid to ease economic-development tensions on the routes from the coast to Houston.
County judge Mark Henry told the audience at Wednesday’s State Of The County And Cities luncheon that he and his county colleagues are rushing to keep pace with rising population numbers and preparing infrastructure to meet growing transportation demand.
He told the roomful of mainland business leaders that transportation issues have become serious, with developers of major residential-home subdivisions like Lago Mar joining the effort.
During his presentation at the chamber-of-commerce luncheon, Henry announced the summit, saying its aim is to coordinate infrastructure projects, spur discussion and help create future road plans.
“The premise is really simple – create better communication,” he said.
“It’s not uncommon at
all for one entity to not know what the other is doing or not know what TxDot has planned.”
While he didn’t give a specific date or location, he said the summit would take place this year and will be chaired by Galveston County Economic Developers and Bay Area Transportation.  The two organizations are inviting regional transportation leaders and a cross-section of county developers to attend, he said.
Henry told the audience that streamlining communication is important because it impacts how fast economic growth can take place. He said that, in the case of Galveston County, not much has to be done to generate buzz.
“That’s happening organically,” he said. “I don’t think we have to do much to create excitement. We just need to manage it.”
He also said engineering firms are pivotal to transportation plans and that their presence will be critical to the summit’s success.
“They are key to this,” he said. “A lot of people think we come up with the projects and go hire an engineering firm. That’s actually backwards of the way it works.”
An engineering firm has to be on the front end of projects because engineers can determine the validity of a project, he said.

Mollette, Glenn New                Glenn Mollette

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

DURING the presidential-nomination campaign trails of Trump, Clinton, Cruz, Rubio, Sanders and the others, we’ve heard a lot of talk and seen a lot of shaking of hands. Talking and shaking hands is good if it leads to saving our country. We could use some talking to America’s businesses.
Federal and state leaders must ask our businesses to stay here. Cut their corporate taxes to 15 per cent. Ask the cities and states to work in unison in creating work-friendly states and communities. Simply waving goodbye to our businesses has to stop. It’s time to grab hold of real laborers and keep them here.
Ask our businesses to come home. They have fled everywhere. Is anybody talking to these people? A 15-per-cent corporate tax rate would help.
Unions must work in cooperation. A factory will not come back if its owner has to face a union demanding $35 an hour plus defined-benefit retirement packages and health care along with our current tax rate.
Many corporations are going bankrupt now for various reasons, including paying their executives too much. However, one reason is promising employees future packages that they will never be able to pay.
State and federal governments can only tax citizens so much to cover wages and pension promises. Many government employees have never contributed a dime to their retirement but yet are promised generous retirement packages that they collect for 20 to 30 years or more.
These generous packages are funded by the government borrowing more with hopes of collecting more taxes to pay for their promises.
The future for more and more government promises to employees is bleak. Change has to occur if our country has any future of recuperating.
Jobs must be moved to hard-pressed areas. For example, coal mining is doomed in central Appalachia. Federal government and state leadership must create incentive packages for real jobs to locate to depressed areas. Factories willing to locate in these areas must be given a pass on corporate and state taxes for at least 10 years or maybe more. The people who are put to work would at least be paying taxes instead of collecting welfare. This would be a win-win for everybody.
We are desperate to make stuff in this country again. There are lots of properties sitting idle in this country that could be bought by the state and sold or given to job-creating entities that promise to stay and hire people for at least 25 years.
Medical crises continue to bankrupt families across America. We are way past the point of taking serious action. The Affordable Care Act has failed. Instead, we must create a four-fold medical plan. First, put the poor and truly disabled on Medicaid. Second, allow those with pre-existing conditions to buy into Medicare. Third, make insurance shopping available across state lines. And fourth, make hospitals and doctors accessible across state lines.
People in California should be able to go to a doctor in Minnesota if they determine that it is best for them. Neither an insurance company or government should make that determination.
Gaining control of our borders, spending billions on foreign aid and foreign wars and the continued decline of the morale of our military services and their veterans are big problems. This all contributes to the overall morale of the entire American people.
Somebody among those running for president has a big job ahead of him or her. I hope they will do more than talk and shake hands. On the other hand, maybe that would be a start in turning this country around.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.