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Chad’s Morning Brief for 02.20.13

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 20, 2013. Give Chad your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.

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1. Ted Cruz on Guns (link)

Senator Ted Cruz isn’t shying away from the media spotlight like some Republicans and all Democrats would like for him to do. According to the Texas Tribune, yesterday was all about guns for Cruz.

Calling President Obama’s recent gun control initiatives “cynical” and “wrong,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said on Tuesday that lawmakers “should focus our efforts on deterring and punishing violent criminals.”

Citing his work as an attorney, and speaking in front of more than 100 employees at LaRue Tactical, a weapons and accessories manufacturer that makes a variety of semi-automatic rifles, Cruz said that “strict punishments” are “where are energy needs to be focused.”

“You leave law-abiding citizens and their families vulnerable to criminals when you strip their constitutional right to defend themselves,” he added.

Cruz also said that bipartisan compromise might come in a policy requiring states to turn over mental health records to strengthen background checks.

“There are 18 states across the country that have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the national background check,” he said. “We ought to make that system work.”

I hope that Senator Cruz keeps fighting in Washington. He will rub some the wrong way, but I think that is a good thing.

2. Testing Woes (link)

Is the state’s testing system a failure? If you were listening the state senators on Tuesday, the answer is a strong yes. According to the Texas Tribune, lawmakers took turns condemning the assessment system.

State senators took turns publicly condemning Texas’ student assessment system — the implementation of which one lawmaker called a “colossal failure” —  at a Tuesday Education Committee meeting.

They had wide-ranging questions for officials from the Texas Education Agency and Pearson, the private company that holds a $468 million test-development contract with the state, on topics from the exam-scoring process to the tests’ accuracy in measuring student comprehension.

“Either the teachers and the schools are doing a poor job of teaching the curriculum or you all are incorrect that these tests are accurate tests,” said Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and the committee’s chairman, pressing for an explanation of students’ low passing rates. “Which is it?”

Discussion also focused on whether the exams should be used in the state’s school accountability system, what value they hold if other standardized tests like the SAT or ACT are the preferred measures for college admission, and whether they appropriately relate to the experiences of the economically-disadvantaged minority students who make up the majority of children in Texas public schools.

“I guess the notion is that the testing is probably not as bad as the way we use the testing,” said Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock.

What do you think about the system that is in place now. Is it a failure?

3. Football (link)

Here’s a tradition you might not have known about. Next Tuesday, state lawmakers will get on buses and head to Texas A&M. No, not to learn about some research but to play football. Yes, you are paying for it and yes it’s a waste of time. You could be upset about it or look at it the way Michael Quinn Sullivan does.

It’s a harmless tradition, Texas lawmakers taking off a few hours to play football. Yes, they do it during the work-day and on your dime. Still, think of it this way: that’s one day they won’t be raiding the rainy day fund, sneaking into your pocket, or regulating your business.

Per our constitution, legislators get paid $600 per month, plus a per diem while in Austin. That extra cash comes ostensibly because legislators are at work in meetings, committee hearings or on the floor.

After making a brief appearance at the Capitol next Tuesday (Feb. 26), lawmakers will load up on buses and drive two hours to College Station, where you’ll be paying them to play football at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field.

The combined legislator per-diem for February 26? Approximately $22,000 for 150 House members.

(One might wonder why they aren’t playing at the state-owned football stadium just a few blocks north of the Capitol at the University of Texas… but as an Aggie I can hardly blame them for not wanting to play there.)

We contacted the office of the legislator organizing the game – State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), a UT alumni – about the costs involved, and whether or not the games would be open to the public. His chief of staff replied saying Texas A&M was responsible for the planning. (We have an information request going to A&M for that information. Let’s face it; the video alone would be a hoot!)

It’s tempting to criticize lawmakers for taking off a work-day to go play a game of flag football. Just consider… they could instead be playing games with your money under the Capitol’s pink dome.

So on careful reflection, we at TFR heartily endorse a flag football league for legislators – with the caveat that games only be played during the hours when they would otherwise be legislating.

I wonder who the better player is between Rep. John Frullo and Rep. Charles Perry.

Other Top Stories:

Postal Service Launching Apparel Line

Chris Christie the Best Bet for 2016?

Cruz Talks Guns

US Officials Addressing Cyber Threat with China

Bad News for the Universe

Tea Party Group Photoshopped Karl Rove Wearing a Nazi Uniform

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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