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Texas Legislature: Budget Deal Reached

The Senate’s chief negotiator on the budget announced Saturday a deal had been reached between the House and Senate on how to pay for state services over the next two years. “White smoke has emerged from our conclave, and we have reached a consensus on what I believe is a responsible, compassionate and smart budget for the people of Texas,” said Flower Mound Senator and Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson. Later this week, the compromise budget will be presented to both chambers for a final vote. A simple majority in both chambers is all that’s needed to send the budget to the Governor’s desk. Sunday, the Senate approved a bill its author says will put more than $500 million more towards public education over the next two years. HB 21, by Friendswood Senator Larry Taylor, is a scaled-back version of a House bill to begin the process of reforming the way the state pays for education over the next two years. “This is a start towards what we would like to do in the interim and really come up with a new revamp of the whole system,” he said. “This wasn’t the best budgetary cycle to start that.” The bill includes more money for schools to teach students with dyslexia, a six-year phaseout of the small district penalty in the formula funding, and $150 million in funds to wean...

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Personal Finance: Food Waste is Money Down the Drain

By Nathaniel Sillin How many times have you gone to pour milk in your coffee, only to see that the date on the carton was yesterday? Some people will instinctively throw it away, but chances are that’s not what the label is intended to convey. It’s likely a marker for when the food might taste its best, not if it’s safe to eat. By some estimates, as many as 91 percent of consumers may misinterpret food date labels. It’s no surprise as there are dozens of different lables in use, but the misunderstanding and lack of meal planning are contributing to a larger problem. Between 30 and 40 percent of the U.S.’s food supply winds up in the trash or a compost container. The benefits of reducing food waste are numerous. You’ll save money, which may be reason enough. You could also be lowering your carbon footprint by keeping spoiled food out of landfills and cutting down on the growing and transportation of food that doesn’t get eaten. Cutting back on this waste could start with understanding what food labels actually mean. Don’t misinterpret food dates as expiration dates. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), aside from on infant formula, food label dates aren’t an indication of whether or not the food is safe to eat. For example, “best by” may mean the food will taste,...

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National Safe Boating Week Reminds Texans to Stay Safe on the Water

In 2016, there were more than 35 boating fatalities and hundreds of boat accidents and injuries on Texas waters. As part of National Safe Boating Week May 20-26, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department boater education and law enforcement staff are reminding Texans to be safe Memorial Day weekend and all summer long by following the law and taking basic safety precautions while on the water. One of the main concerns during Memorial Day weekend and throughout the boating season is the dangerous and illegal consumption of alcohol by drivers on the road and on the water. Last year, Texas game wardens arrested 155 people who were operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent, an offense that can lead to fines and the loss of license, not to mention the increased risk of accidents or fatalities on the water. “Drinking and boating do not mix,” said Cody Jones, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “Not only is it the law, refraining from drinking alcohol while operating a vessel could save your life and the life of your loved ones.” While boating accidents can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including drinking while boating, surviving an accident on the water boils down to one important precaution: wearing a lifejacket. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three- fourths of...

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Home Country

by Slim Randles Windy Wilson looked through the notions aisle at the store and finally picked out the package of needles he wanted. Big ones. The big ones are easier to thread and it’s harder to drop them and stick yourself. Mrs. Andrews walked past him with her shopping cart. “Going to do some sewing, Windy?” “Oh hi there, Miz Andrews. Well … you know how it is. Gotta have a modiclum of needles around in case a cow cuts herself up on a bobwire fence.” “Oh I see,” she said, wandering off. Annette George, owner of the Soup ‘R Market, stood by the cash register and smiled. Windy’s at it again. Windy went into the personal hygiene section of the store and picked up five packages of dental floss. The unflavored kind. Then he went up to pay for them. “Hi Annette.” “Hey Windy,” she said. “Starting another quilt?” He looked around. Okay, no one close. “Yep,” he said. “Thought I’d try a Grandma’s Flower Garden pattern this time. Looks like a booger to piece together, but I might could be ready for it.” “Who’s it for?” Annette asked. She knew Windy made these quilts for others, often anonymously, because there are some folks who wouldn’t understand an old cowboy and camp cook who sewed quilts for a hobby. She also knew he sewed them with dental floss...

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Texas Game Warden Field Notes

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports. Baiting the Baiters On opening day of the spring Eastern turkey hunting season, Red River County game wardens were revisiting areas they had discovered during recent patrols that had been baited with corn. They observed four separate hunters actively hunting Eastern turkey over bait in violation of state game laws. One hunter shot a turkey over the bait, but was unsuccessful in finding it. Other hunting license violations were also encountered during these contacts. Multiple cases are pending. Net Loss Responding to a tip from an Operation Game Thief call, a Tarrant County game warden caught four men fishing with a cast net and keeping game fish in violation of state fishing laws. The men were in possession of 130 crappie, 64 yellow bass, 8 black bass, and 37 perch. About 50 of the crappie and bass were undersized. None of the men had fishing licenses. The fish were cleaned and donated. Multiple cases filed. Caught with the Loot Game wardens patrolling the tornado disaster area in Van Zandt County to minimize looting problems and enforce a mandatory curfew stopped a suspicious vehicle filled with several miscellaneous items that appeared to be potentially stolen from homes in the area. Upon questioning the subject and searching the vehicle, it was discovered he was in possession...

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