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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 3, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas 4A Q HeraldtZettung g Sunday August Opinion To talk with Managing Editor Margaret tdmonson about the Opinion page call 625 9144 Ext 220 Opinion Online oonlflct submit letters and guest columns electronically by way of online services or Internet or to simply contact staff members the newspapers address Is QUOTABLE The First Amendment stands for the notion that when it comes to free speech and a free press government is always the problem never the David Bartlett journalist D I T O R I Vote yes for amendment But dont hold your breath Governor George W Bush voted Thursday in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a increase in the homestead property tax exemption It appears Texans have little choice but to follow suit The amendment would raise the minimum exemption for school property taxes from to Additional exemp tions extended by school districts such as Comal Inde pendent School Districts 20 percent exemption also could be granted The immediate impact to the taxpayers would be smaller tax bills to the tune of about for most taxpayers In New Braunfels ISO taxes on a home based on the current tax rate would drop from to In CISD the tax bill basfcdoti a tax rate wUl go from to However there is the question of making up the lost value According to Bush and other proponents of the amendment the state will send about billion more to the school dis tricts to make up for money lost because of the increased exemption If a district feels like it needs to raise the rate they ought to stand up and say to their constituents were raising the Z other than the property tax Bush saidfffpemcrease in homestead exemptions should not be an excuse to raise tax rates Districts wont lose The state of Texas is famous for unfunded mandates and no one knows that better than the school districts Whether that billion will make up for districts losses is not clear and we should not be holding our breaths to see if that hap pens for NBISD or CISD According to budget projects in NBISD for example the district would lose an estimated million in revenue if the tax proposal passes and the state would reimburse only By voting yes for the constitutional amendment we can at least hope for the best but dont be too disappointed if your taxes dont go down because schools need money to operate And we all know where that comes from Todays editorial was written by HeraldZeitung Manag ing Editor Margaret Write us The New Braunfels HeraldZeitung welcomes letters on any public issue The editor reserves the right to correct spelling style punctua tion and known factual errors Letters should be kept to 250 words We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels Her aldZeitung bearing the writers signature Also an address and a telephone number which are not for publication must be included Please cite the page number and date of any article that is mentioned Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the pre vious 30 days Mail letters to Letters to the Editor the New Braunfels HeraldZeitung Drawer 311328 New Braunfels Texas 781311328 Fax 830 6251224 New Braunfels HeraldZeitung Editor and Publisher Ext 301 Doug Toney Managing Editor Ext 220 Margaret Edmonson Marketing Director Ext 208 Jason Borchardt Classified Advertising Manager Ext 214 Karen Reininger Business Manager Ext 202 Mary Lee Hall Circulation Director Ext 228 Carol Ann Avery Pressroom Foreman Ext 205 Billy Parnell Published on Sunday mornings and weekday roomings Tuesday through Friday by the Mw J leraUZttUioig USPS 377880 707 Landa or RO Dravwr 3 1 1328 New Brauntels Comal County TX 78 1 3 1 1 328 Periodical postage paid by the New Braunfek HeruUIZeitwig in New Brauntels Texas Carrier delivered in Comal and Guadalupe counties three mouths six months one year Senior Citizen Discounts by carrier delivery only months one year Mail delivery outside Comal County in Texas three months six months one year Mail outside Texas six months one year Subscribers who have not received a newspaper by Tuesday through Friday or by on Sunday may call 830 6259144 or by 7 weekdays or by 11 on Sunday Send address changes to the New Draw er 3 1 1328 New Braunfels Tx 781311328 Texas first in battle against teen Texas took the lead among states in the battle to curb minors use of tobac co products by passing Senate Bill 55 by Zaffirini and Rep Hugo Berlanga DCorpus Christi Because the new law reducing minors access to tobac co is the strongest in the nation many consider it a harbinger of the pro posed settlement between tobacco companies and state attorneys gener al While the settlement awaits the approval of Congress and President Bill Clinton implementation of SB 55s provisions begins Sept 1 Whats more the settlement does not preempt laws that are stronger than federal laws This column the seventh in my series about the 75th Legislature focuses on our efforts to reduce sig nificantly minors use of cigarettes and other tobacco products Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in both the nation and Texas accord ing to the Texas Department of Health In Texas however the num ber of deaths due to smoking contin ues to increase annually The number of tobaccorelated pre ventable deaths exceeds the combined total of those caused by AIDS alco hol automobile accidents drugs fire homicide and suicide One in five deaths in both the nation and the state Judith Zaffirini is smoking relat ed Whats more approximately 90 percent of all tobacco use begins among persons age 18 and younger Preventing young people from starting to use tobacco is the key to reducing the death and dis ease caused by tobacco said Secretary of Health Donna Shalala If adolescents can be kept tobacco free most will never start using tobacco Because an additional young persons become regular smokers every day Lt Gov Bob Bullock issued an interim charge to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Ser vices to identify the steps required to limit minors access to tobacco Accordingly SCHHS which I chair developed legislation that focuses on a youthcentered prevention policy SB 55 for example provides penal ties for minors who possess or use cigarettes or attempt to purchase them by claiming to be 18 years old Repeat offenders can be fined up to and required to attend tobacco education programs Those who do not com plete awareness courses face suspen sion or denial of their drivers licens es If a course approved by the Texas Department of Health is not avail able SB 55 requires violators to per form eight to 12 hours of tobacco related community service Offend ers who complete courses or comply with community service requirements can have their convictions expunged from their records Because research indicates that minors succeed in buying cigarettes from vending machines from 90 per cent to 100 percent of the time SB 55 prohibits such machines in areas fre quented by minors The federal set tlement would abolish all vending machine sales of cigarettes Additionally the new legislation which Gov George Bush signed in Laredo on June 16 bans distribution of free samples and coupons to indi viduals younger than 18 years and bans the mailorder redemption of coupons for free cigarettes Because children are impressionable and are only learning to make value judg ments SB 55 bans outdoor advertising within feet of a school or church and assesses a 10 percent fee on tobac co billboards to fund education and enforcement programs All tobacco billboards are banned under the set tlement terms Retailer penalty provisions includ ed in the bill provide for an escalating schedule of fines ranging from to commensurate with the offense After four or more offenses of selling tobacco to minors in a 12 month period the State Comptroller can revoke a retailers permit Although SB 55 focuses on tobac co product distribution I also spon sored legislation that will increase public awareness of the harmful ingre dients in cigarettes House Bill 119 by Rep John Hirschi DWichita Falls and Zaffirini requires tobacco manufacturers to file an annual report with TDH that identifies the nicotine yield rating and each ingredient in cigarettes or tobacco products sold in the state Some of the ingredients such as cadmium for example are cancer causing agents Legislation that offers solutions for serious problems reflects World Health Organization DirectorGener al Dr H Nakajimas observation that there are increasing numbers of indi viduals groups and governments who have achieved commendable suc cesses in the area of tobacco Judith Zaffirini represents the 21st District in the Texas Senate I Protecting our children from predators In June the Supreme Court made what is in this day and age a stunning decision Society has the right to protect its children The court ruled that states may continue to keep habit ual child molesters locked up even after theyve completed their prison sentences Leroy Hendricks the kind of crimi nal who gives parents nightmares is at the center of this story Over a 40year period Hendricks accumulated five convictions for molesting children in particularly horrible ways and was accused of countless other crimes with which he never was charged Hen dricks told the last court to try him that the only way for him to stop molesting children when released from prison is to On completion of his last prison sen tence a court determined Hendricks is both mentally abnormal and danger ous So the state of Kansas kept him confined to a mental facility under its Sexual ly Violent Preda tors Act But a great effort was mounted on Hen dricks behalf to gain his release This was based on the argument that the Fifth Amendment pro hibition against double jeop ardy1 forbid ding the govern ment to punish a person twice for the same crime was violated by the Kansas statute The Hendricks case goes to the core of the debate over what the Constitution allows our society to do to protect its most vulnerable In 1949 U S Supreme Kay Bailey Hutchison Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote that Constitutional logic must be tempered with practical wisdom in such cases to avoid converting the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide Unfortunately until last months rul ing the court has ignored Justice Jack sons warning Previous courts have put the rights of criminals even child molesters ahead of the rights of chil dren to be safe in our society Happily the court has come around to the commonsense idea that pre venting highly predictable crimes against children is a good idea Our society has begun to realize that it has a premier obligation to protect its young from predators more than 40 percent of whom commit repeat offens es The Supreme Court ruling is indica tive of this realization Additionally Texas and many other states have statutes similar to New Jerseys Megans which require com munity notification when a molester is released from prison and takes up residence Last year Congress passed legislation which I introduced that requires life imprisonment for twotime child sex offenders when their cases are heard in federal court It also provides a nation wide system of tracking sex offenders so society can keep tabs on them if they move from one state to another These measures will not put an end to child molestation But it is our responsibility to take what steps we can take to prevent it To do less is indeed to turn the Constitution into a mutual suicide pact and force our chil dren to join it Child molestation is a horrendous crime Justice must serve the youngest and most vulnerable among us as well as those who prey on them Kay Bailey Hutchison represents Texas in the Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Sunday Aug 3 the 215th day of 1997 There are 150 days left in the year Todays Highlight in History On Aug 3 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail from PaJos Spain on a voyage that would take him to the presentday Americas On this date In 1914 Germany declared war on France In 1923 Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th president of the United States In 1936 the State Department urged Americans in Spain to leave because of that countrys civil war In 1943 Gen George S Patton slapped a private at an army hospital in Sicily accusing him of cowardice Pat ton was later ordered by Gen Dwight D Eisenhower to apologize for this and a second similar episode In 1948 Whittaker Chambers a for mer Communist publicly accused for mer State Department official Alger Hiss of having been part of a Commu nist underground a charge Hiss denied In 1949 the National Basketball Association was formed In 1958 the nuclearpowered sub marine Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater In 1981 air traffic controllers went on strike despite a warning from President Reagan they would be fired In 1988 the Soviet Union released Mathias Rust the West German who landed a small plane in Moscows Red Square in May 1987 In 1994 Stephen G Breyer was sworn in as the Supreme Courts newest justice in a private ceremony at Chief Justice William H Rehnquists Ver mont summer home Ten years ago The IranContra con gressional hearings ended with none of the 29 witnesses tying President Reagan directly to the diversion of armssales profits to Nicaraguan rebels Five years ago The Senate voted to sharply restrict and eventually end testing of nuclear weapons One year agg At the Atlanta Olympics the mens 400meter relay without Carl Lewis failed to win the gold medal finishing behind Cana da The American womens 400 and relay teams and the mens all won gold The mens basketball team beat Yugoslavia 9569 to win the gold
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