TEXAS attorney general Ken Paxton has filed an amicus brief with the US supreme court asserting that the affordable care act is unconstitutional.
Paxton said the act, commonly known as Obamacare, does not comply with
the origination clause in the US constitution.
He filed the amicus brief in support of a petition for a lower court’s re-examination – a writ of certiorari – of a case brought by Iowa self-employed artist Matt Sissel, left, against the US department of health and human services.
Nine states – Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and West Virginia – support the brief.
“Obamacare has been fundamentally flawed from the day it was forced through congress,” Paxton said.
“Based on the supreme court’s own 2012 ruling, Obamacare is a tax on the American people and, since congress did not follow proper procedure, the law should be struck down in full,” he said.
Because of that ruling, he said the legislation must originate in the US house of representatives.
The origination clause was a compromise reached at the constitutional convention in 1787 and remains a structural feature of the constitution.
It states that all bills whose primary purpose is to raise revenue for the government must originate in the house, enabling the house to serve as an adequate counterweight to the senate.
Paxton argues that, under the supreme court’s 2012 decision in a case brought by National Federation Of Independent Business against Kathleen Sebelius, left, in her capacity as US health and human services secretary, the act’s individual mandate could only have been passed as a tax.
There is no legal precedent suggesting that a bill that could only have been passed as a tax is nevertheless exempt from the origination clause.
Creek clearly at top of the class
ONE OF THE county’s largest independent school districts was cock-a-hoop last week after being told all its campuses have met the state’s highest academic standards.
Clear Creek ISD superintendent Greg Smith said the district and its campuses had all earned the state’s highest rating of ‘met standard’ but that the rating is just one standard by which to judge the student body’s academic progress.
“We are pleased to see those ratings but we equally recognize there is more to a quality education than just standardized test scores,” he said.
“We believe this community report card appropriately reflects where we stand in the areas most important to our parents, students and taxpayers.”
Before announcing the achievement, the district released a performance report and community-assessment study showing its academic prowess.
The 30-page community-based accountability report, the second released by the district in successive years, outlines progress measures beyond the results of the state of Texas assessment of academic readiness, commonly called STAAR.
The Texas academic performance report, or TAPR, a report largely based on STAAR performance results and student demographics, was also released last week.
The community report shows that the district has seen an increase in the number of its students attending four-year university courses, earning workforce certifications and participating in extracurricular activities.
These are characteristics, according to a 2014 phone survey, that the community found important in judging the quality of an education system.
In addition to student performance and participation, the report also outlines program evaluations conducted in the district’s gifted and talented program, technical education and fine arts.
“These evaluations take a comprehensive look at programs to make sure they are leading to student achievement and, if not, [assessing] what additional resources are needed or [if it is] time to modify or abandon the program,” Smith, left, said.
“These particular evaluations indicated the programs are viable opportunities to meet student needs.”
The community report found that the district needs to increase student participation in advanced academics and increase the number of students who take advanced placement exams from 67 per cent to more than 70 per cent.
Did county damage prompt federal disaster declaration?
MENTION of storm-driven damage in parts of Galveston County could have been significant in president Barack Obama’s decision to accede to a state request for federal disaster funds in the wake of Hurricane Patricia (see Obama Yes To Disaster Funds, in Lone Star watch).
In the request, state governor Greg Abbott specifically mentioned the damage to 30 Friendswood homes and the voluntary evacuation of the Bolivar peninsula. Alvin tornado damage was also included.
The damage began on October 22 when the remnants of Pacific hurricane Patricia met an upper-level disturbance after crossing Mexico into southern Texas.
The resulting rain broke daily rainfall records in border counties.
Patricia’s remnants strengthened the next day when it ran into another intense band of bad weather. From there, the combined storms dumped havoc on Texans from the Valley to the Panhandle for more than a week.
Rainy day fund at all-time high
THE AMOUNT in the state’s so-called rainy day fund is almost $10 billion, a record, according to Texas public-accounts comptroller Glenn Hegar.
He said the amount in the fund reached $9.61 billion with an injection last week of more than $1.13 billion from tax-revenue accounts dedicated to the state’s oil and natural-gas production rate.
The injection was half of a $2.27 billion transfer to the state’s highway and economic stabilization funds (see Energetic Oil Boosts State Funds, in Lone Star watch). The latter is commonly referred to as the Texas rainy day fund.
“The state’s rainy day fund is now at a record high, allowing the state to maintain a strong fiscal position and protect against unforeseen circumstances,” Hegar said.
“Additionally, this healthy transfer to the state highway fund will help address the state’s growing transportation needs, all of which will help Texas uphold a strong and healthy economy.”
At the end of the fiscal year, the amount in the economic stabilization fund stood at $8.46 billion. The current amount stands at $9.61 billion, Hegar said.