Straining gnats, swallowing camels

In looking over recently introduced measures in the current session of the State Legislature, I discovered H.B. 1819. The bill was offered by Bryan’s state representative, Kyle Kacal. The bill provides a cause of action if a homeowner harms or kills a goat. Although that seems appropriate for the representative from the area of Texas A&M, I am given to wonder why the Legislature appears to have more concern for animals than it does many of the people of Texas.

Texas has more children without adequate medical care than any other state in the union. More children living in poverty than any other state in the union. And yet Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. John Cornyn and newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz held a joint press conference attempting to explain why they would turn down a deal that would fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years and pay 90 percent after that. Under Obama’s Affordable Medicare Act, this deal would allow 1 million people in Texas to get health insurance, as well as create thousands of Texas jobs and provide needed relief to local taxpayers and those of us who pay out of pocket when we go to the emergency room for treatment. Not only is our leaders’ refusal to accept the provisions of this act harming Texans in need of medical care, but it is also a wrong-headed view on how to save money. It seems some of our leaders only care that they don’t get accused of increasing state or national taxes. This claim is patently phony because currently the State Legislature is using federal funds intended for indigent care at UT Medical Branch at Galveston and UT Tyler to help balance their budget and avoid new taxes. The problem is they are diverting funds intended for sick people to other causes that seem less pressing. Business leaders in Texas and many health providers continue to urge Perry and other state leaders to accept the funds, the lack of which is causing a serious strain on many local taxing units. A grand example of this is the hospital district in Bexar County, San Antonio. Leaders say turning down the federal funds being offered will cause a 20 percent increase in the taxes needed to support the Bexar County Hospital District.

Our state leaders, who seem to be in a race to see who can condemn the federal government the most, appear to be as the Bible says, “Straining gnats and swallowing camels.” Not a word has been said by any of these so-called leaders in the current session of the Legislature about the $37 billion in giveaways in the form of corporate welfare. Two flaming examples of how we, the ordinary taxpayers, are being hosed by our leaders are the fact country clubs pay a substantially lesser rate on their property taxes because they claim to be “green belt” areas that supposedly are great perks to the general public of Texas. If you believe this, try taking a stroll or having a picnic one afternoon on the grounds of the River Oaks Country Club, which enjoys thousands of dollars worth of tax benefits at your expense.

Or second, how about the fact the State Legislature continues to fund many millions of dollars in subsidies via tax breaks to poor old Shell Oil, British Petroleum and others who are now making record profits? Supposedly, the tax breaks were given several years ago to help prop up the flagging drilling industry, which is now going wide open and producing large fortunes for the big oil companies.

It continues to boggle my mind how fairly intelligent Texas voters will continue to condone leadership that will slam the courthouse door to people seriously injured through medical negligence, while at the same time, creating a new cause of action for injured sheep and goats.


Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety. His e-mail is cap1934 [at] aol [dot] com.