Guest writers

By guest writer Cheryl Johnson

Fast approaching are some very important dates that will have a significant impact on the lives of the residents of Galveston County.
This coming Thursday, April 6, is the last day to register to vote or update address information for the May 6 local elections. Voter registration applications are available at all county tax-office locations or online at galcotax.com.
Citizens wishing to register can contact the county’s voter registration department toll free at 1-888-976-2280 and ask for an application to be e-mailed or mailed to them.
Property owners need to be aware that, with today’s robust real-estate market, they should be prepared to see a notice of appraised value appear in their mail in late April.
How can you prepare to protest the appraised value of your home if you disagree with it? First, understand that values are determined by the property’s condition on January 1 each year, so take photos on that date and obtain estimates of the cost of any needed repairs.
Next, if you have recently bought the property and paid less than the appraisal-notice value, or if personal property was included with the purchase price, gather together all the documented details.
Whatever the reason for your protest, contact the county’s central appraisal district at 409-935-1980 to start the process. You must schedule an appointment with a CAD appraiser no later than May 31.
Totally puzzled about the Texas property-tax protest process? Learn how it works and how to be effective when protesting your property value by attending my award-winning Effectively Protest Your Appraised Value class on one of the dates shown in the table below. You’ll learn techniques – not tricks.
Please note that, because the CAD is currently performing a software conversion, we will not be able to post complete class materials to the tax-office website until late April, but will do so before the first scheduled class. All classes begin at 6:00pm and last approximately two hours.
After April 25, go online to galcotax.com, select its Press Releases And Important Information link and download our preliminary 2017 handbook and protest spreadsheet.
Cheryl Johnson is tax assessor and collector for Galveston County.

Property-valuation protest classes

Date             Location
April 27        League City council chambers, 200
West Walker, League City

May 4           Jury assembly room, county justice
center, 600 59th Street, Galveston
May 11         Learning resource center, room L-131,
College Of The Mainland,
1200 Amburn Road, Texas City
May 23        Friendswood public library, 416 South
Friendswood Drive, Friendswood

Your write

Help us help
our students
DICKINSON ISD Education Foundation will host our annual fundraising gala at Garten Verein in Galveston on April 6, honoring our teachers of the year for providing exemplary teaching and encouragement to help our children reach their full potential and enhance their lives.
The foundation provides funds to facilitate student achievement and skill development, to recognize and encourage staff excellence and to expand community involvement throughout the district.
This school year, the foundation has awarded more than $40,000 in innovative teaching and campus grants and student and teacher scholarships and has also recognized the district’s outstanding employees.
We are hoping readers of The Post can help by providing donations for the gala’s live and silent auctions. All contributions are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible. A contribution can be a product or service from a business, sporting memorabilia, tickets for entertainment or travel, gift cards or any item of value upon which gala attendees would like to bid.
In return, the foundation will advertise each donor’s name or company name in local newspapers and on its Facebook page. For details, readers can call me at the foundation on 281-229-6089 or e-mail me at sking@dickinsonisd.org.
We thank you and your readers for their consideration and helping us build a better tomorrow for our children starting today!
Stormie King
Dickinson

To dredge or not
to dredge?
There hasn’t been very much media coverage regarding the San Jacinto river waste pits but what we have read is interesting and disturbing. The fact is that there are two legitimate sides to the debate over whether this superfund site should be contained or dredged and excavated.
Perhaps many do not realize that the business interests behind the remediation proposal for the site align with the interests of the general public.
Businesses, as much as anyone, rely on the health and protection of Galveston Bay. Not a soul wishes for the existence of the site but reality demands a reasoned and measured response to its problems. Thus far, this has been far from the case.
Texas Association of Businesses, Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Association Of Manufacturing and many others are well versed with the US Army Corps Of Engineers report on the site. They all support containment over dredging.
Moreover, our own environmental agency, TCEQ, has said it could not support the EPA’s proposal and strongly implied that containment might be the best course of action. However, when scientific data and other evidence are brought to bear in this debate, the default response seems to be impulse and emotion rather than reason and substance
Some folks need to rethink their position on the waste pits, take a look at the science and then decide. Most objective readers will probably find the evidence is very clear. Ignoring the science could result in catastrophe, which the EPA is more familiar with than many know.
Crystal Laramore
Kemah

              Bob Jackson

By guest writer Bob Jackson

A  bill has been introduced in the US congress to change the law and allow health insurance companies to charge older people premiums that are five times more than they charge younger people, instead of the current limit of three times as much.
Make no mistake, this is an “age tax” that severely penalizes people between ages 50 and 64 while providing a very small benefit for younger people.
An individual’s insurance premium is determined by how much risk is associated with that person. It is because younger people pose less risk than older people that their premiums are lower. The current three-to-one age rating spreads total risk across all of us in a way that is fair to everyone. Five-to-one isn’t fair.
Here’s why: Going to a five-to-one age rating will increase premiums for 50- to 64-year-olds by between $1,500 and $3,200 per year. For the oldest among that group, that would mean an annual premium of more than $19,000.
On the other hand, the current three-to-one age rating raises the premium for a 20- to 29-year-old by less than $700, with an annual premium of $4,700.
The three-to-one rating spreads risk across all ages in a way that costs younger folks a relatively small amount while saving older people a considerable amount.
Premiums aren’t the only healthcare cost either; older people already spend much more for out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and cost sharing. In the long run, younger people are set to benefit from the three-to-one system and, if it stays, they’ll be glad for its fair sharing of risk and cost.
If the five-to-one age rating becomes law, 4.8 million 50- to 64-year-old Texas voters will feel the sting of the “age tax” as many will struggle to pay for the healthcare they need at the time they need it most. That means they might forego adequate coverage, making them less healthy at age 65 when they qualify for Medicare, a personal tragedy and a senseless cost increase of $6.4 billion to care for our older citizens.
Members of congress need to stop talking out of both sides of their mouth and work to reduce healthcare costs for everyone. Don’t take money from Americans to increase insurance-company profits. Instead, save citizens and Medicare money by allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices instead of taking all our money to ensure outrageous profits for big drug companies.
Congress could also allow the safe importation of prescription drugs, so Americans don’t have to pay the highest Rx prices in the world.
There are 2.3 million AARP members in Texas. AARP and its members work with elected officials of both parties to find responsible solutions for rising healthcare costs. If you agree with us, please contact your members of congress – senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and house representative Randy Weber – and ask them to stand up for healthcare fairness, not for insurance companies.
Bob Jackson is the director of AARP Texas, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing people age 50 and older throughout the state.

          Natalie Wolff

By guest writer Natalie Wolff

Nonprofit youth organization Texas Brigades is now accepting applications for this year’s wildlife and natural resource-based leadership programs – and the spaces are filling up fast!
The deadline for applications to attend any of the camps is March 15.
The eight leadership-development camps are for teens from ages 13-17 and each is an intense, all-inclusive, five-day experience led by some of Texas’ top wildlife and natural-resource professionals. Typically, they attract some 200 youths from throughout the state each year.
The programs feature quail, deer, bass, redfish, waterfowl or livestock, with the aim of equipping our youth with the resources and determination needed to make a difference in conservation and land stewardship throughout their lives.
Through the camps, participants are introduced to habitat management, led to hone their communication skills and taught to work together as a team and to develop a conservation ethic.
To provide such a comprehensive experience, Texas Brigades works in partnership with Texas Wildlife Association, the state’s parks and wildlife department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and USDA-NRCS, as well as universities, conservation groups, local soil- and water-conservation districts, private businesses and individuals with an interest in wildlife and youth leadership development.
Camp applications can be completed online at texasbrigades.org. The all-inclusive tuition costs $500 per cadet per camp and applications for tuition assistance are also available.
For more information, you can contact Texas Brigades at camps@texasbrigades.org, call our office at 210-556-1391 or find us on Facebook, Twitter, IG and Snapchat.

Camp dates and locations
June       Brigade                                 Location
10-14    Rolling Plains Bobwhite      Centennial Lodge, Coleman
11-15    South Texas Buckskin          Welder Wildlife Refuge, Sinton
23-27    South Texas Bobwhite          Buck Horn Creek Ranch, McCoy

July
5-9        Bass                                    Warren Ranch, Santa Anna
16-20    Waterfowl                           The BigWoods on the Trinity, Tennessee Colony
17-21    Ranch                                  Warren Ranch
23-27    North Texas Buckskin          Warren Ranch
25-29    Coastal Brigade                    Sea Star Base, Galveston

Natalie Wolff has 13 years of professional conservation experience in natural resources and land management and began volunteering with Texas Brigades in 2007, becoming its executive director last October.

              Dale Schlundt

By guest writer Dale Schlundt

Debates, heated arguments and social tension defined the era. People were scared of what they had thought was going to be a thing of the past, too much power in the hands of just a limited few.
We had all witnessed inequality, power exerted
by people who seemed so far removed from us, perhaps distanced by both proximity and, ultimately, ideology. By the time we were finished, we had come to a consensus but it was one that left certain factions feeling dissatisfied.
This description could fit numerous contexts in American history, specifically the revolutionary era, illustrating the point that social and political tension is nothing unique or new.
Essentially, it gives us some solace during times of conflict, as the framers of the US constitution gave us tools to address these circumstances.
The founders were not remotely close to being a united body, yet they all had one thing in common – two fears. They feared mass movements by what they perceived as an uneducated public negatively influencing policy and thus they gave us the electoral college as one of the checks and balances they believed would keep our system in order.
Contrasting that, our nation’s founders feared that an excessively limited democratic structure within the new republic would turn into an authoritarian entity. That was perceived through their lens as being similar to Great Britain in relation to its colonies. So they framed a government structure that distributed power. Recently, that system has been put to use in regard to president Donald Trump’s executive order limiting travel and immigration from certain regions of the Middle East. It featured one independent branch of government interpreting the constitutional validity of another’s policies.
The study of history is based in seeking out change. An aspect of that focus, depending on the area of study, is to conclude whether we are progressing or regressing as a society.
The discussion of concentrated power was nothing new at the time of the Constitutional Convention. Conflicting ideas among the framers about the role of the judicial branch in the new republic has led us to interpreting the results. Consequently, today they alter society to a large degree.
Despite our governmental system’s shortcomings throughout history, we are indeed progressing. For instance, who would have thought the US supreme court would have cited the 14th amendment, a constitutional revision focused on African-American liberties from the latter part of the 19th century, to uphold gay rights in the 21st?
Still, executive orders are typically controversial simply because they can bypass one of those checks, the legislative branch. Let us remember president Abraham Lincoln’s criticized executive orders during the Civil War, orders that he utilized in an effort to silence his political critics in the press.
Executive orders are within the legal powers of the president and are, at times, both necessary and appropriate.
At other times, they are called into question. Thus, the judicial process picks up the slack, if you will.
Most observers argue that the current debate about travel and immigration has the potential to arrive at the supreme court. However, individuals on both sides of the issue should keep in mind the fact that this is part of the American experience. While political tensions rise, it is the debate that promotes growth.
Perhaps more significant is that these experiences are nothing new. Let us allow the framers’ system
to interpret our constitution and applicable legislation, while respecting our fellow Americans regardless of their political affiliation.
Dale Schlundt is an adjunct professor for Palo Alto community college in San Antonio and an occasional contributor to The Post.