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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 3, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas 4A □ Herald-Zeitung □ Sunday, August 3,1997 QUOTA BLE I 111 IU I “The First Amendment stands for the that when it comes to free speech and a Cree press, government Is always the problem, never the solution.” David Bartlett journalist EDITORIALVote ‘yes’ for amendment But don’t hold your breath Governor George W. Bush voted Thursday in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a $10,000 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 $5,000 to $15,000. Additional exemptions extended by school districts — such as Comal Independent School District’s 20 percent exemption — also could be granted. The immediate impact to the taxpayers would be smaller tax bills — to the tune of about $ 140 for most taxpayers. In New Braunfels 1SD, taxes on a $100,000 home, based on the current $1.46 tax rate, would drop from $1,387 to $1,241. In CISD, the tax bill, based Ort a $1.64 tax tate, will go from $1,230 to $1,066. 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 $1 billion more to the school districts to make up for money lost because of the increased exemption. “lf a district feels like it needs to raise the rate, they ought to stand up and say to their constituents we’re raising the ratayj^ULand Z other than the property tax cut,” Bush said. SBK, increase in homestead exemptions should not be an excuse to raise tax rates. Districts won’t lose money.” The state of Texas is famous for unfunded mandates, and no one knows that better than the school districts. Whether that $1 billion will make up for districts’ losses is not clear, and we should not be holding our breaths to see if that happens for NBISD or CISD. According to budget projects in NBISD, for example, the district would lose an estimated $1 million in revenue if the tax proposal passes and the state would reimburse only $200,000. By voting “yes” for the constitutional amendment we can at least hope for the best, but don’t be too disappointed if your taxes don’t go down because schools need money to operate. And we all know where that comes from. (Todays editorial was written by Hendd-Zeitung Managing Editor Margaret Edmonson.) Write us ... The New Braunfels Herald - Zeitu rig welcomes letters on any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to SSO words. We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels Her-ald-Zeitung bearing the writer’s 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 previous 30 days. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor do the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, Texas 78131-1328 » Fax: (830)625-1224 Texas first in battle against teen smoking New BraunfelsHerald-Zeitung 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. 206..........................................Billy    Parnell Published on Sunday mornings and weekday mornings T uesday through Friday by the Se* Braunfels Herald-Zeuung (LISPS 377TU*)) 707 Lamb Sl, or P.O. Drawer 3 ll 328, New Braunfels, Comal County, TX 78131-1328. Periodical postage paid by the Sew Braunfels Herald-Aes rung in New Braunfels, Terras. Carrier delivered in Comal and Guadalupe counties: three months, 120.30; six months, $37; one year, $66. Senior Cit lien Discounts by earner delivery only: six months, $33; one year, $62. Mail delivery outside Comal County in Texas: three months, $30.30; six months, $33; one year, $103 JO. Mail outside Texas: six months, $78; one year, $118.25. Subacnbers who have not received a newspaper by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or by 7:30 a m on Sunday may call (830) 625-9144 or by 7 p.m. weekday* or by 11 a.m I an Sunday I    Postmaster: Send address changes to the Sew Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, P.O. Draw- J er 311328, New Braunfels, Tx. 78131-1328. Texas took the lead among states in the battle to curb minors’ use of tobacco products by passing Senate Bill 55 by Zaffirini and Rep. Hugo Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi. Because the new law reducing minors’ access to tobacco is the strongest in the nation, many consider it a harbinger of the proposed settlement between tobacco companies and state attorneys general. While the settlement awaits the approval of Congress and President Bill Clinton, implementation of SB 55’s provisions begins Sept I. What’s mote, 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 significantly 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, according to the Texas Department of Health. In Texas, however, the number of deaths due to smoking continues to increase annually. The number of tobacco-related preventable deaths exceeds the combined total of those caused by AIDS, alcohol, automobile accidents, drugs, fire, homicide and suicide. One in five deaths in both the nation and the state An** ^ T Judith Zaffirini is smoking related. What’s 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 disease caused by tobacco use,” said U.S. Secretary of Health Donna Shalala. “lf adolescents can be kept tobacco free most will never start using tobacco products.’’ Because an additional 3,000 young persons become regular smokers every day, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock issued an interim charge to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services to identify the steps required to limit minors’ access to tobacco. Accordingly, SCHHS, which I chair, developed legislation that focuses on a youth-centered prevention policy. SB 55, for example, provides penalties 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 $250 and required to attend tobacco education programs. Those who do not complete awareness courses face suspension or denial of their drivers’ licenses. If a course approved by the Texas Department of Health is not available, SB 55 requires violators to perform eight to 12 hours of tobacco-related community service. Offenders 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 percent to IOO percent of the time, SB 55 prohibits such machines in areas frequented by minors. The federal settlement 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 individuals younger than 18 years and bans the mail-order redemption of coupons for free cigarettes. Because children are impressionable and are only learning to make value judgments, SB 55 bans outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or church and assesses a IO percent fee on tobacco billboards to fund education and enforcement programs. All tobacco billboards are banned under the settlement terms. Retailer penalty provisions included in the hill provide for an escalating schedule of fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, 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 retailer’s permit. Although SB 55 focuses on tobacco product distribution, I also sponsored legislation that will increase public awareness of the harmful ingredients in cigarettes. House Bill 119 by Rep. John Hirschi, D-Wichita Falls, and Zaffirini requires tobacco manufacturers to file an annual report with TDH that identifies die nicotinc-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 Director-General Dr. H. Nakajima’s observation that “there are increasing numbers of individuals, groups and governments ... who have achieved commendable successes in the area of tobacco control.’’ (Judith Zaffirini represents the 21st District in the Texas Senate) / acy#. *•>,, ! v»4 TIP 'J iii HT\ Protecting our children from predators In June the U.S. 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 habitual child molesters locked up, even after they’ve completed their prison sentences. Leroy Hendricks, the kind of criminal who gives parents nightmares, is at the center of this story. Over a 40-year 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. Hendricks told the last court to try him that the only way for him to stop molesting children when released from prison “is to die.” On completion of his last prison sentence, a court determined Hendricks is both “mentally abnormal” and dangerous. So the state of Kansas kept himToday in History By The Associated Press Today is Sunday, Aug, 3, the 215th day of 1997. There are 150 days left in the year. Today'* Highlight in History: On Aug. 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spam, on a voyage that would take him to the present-day Americas. On this date: la 1914, Germany declared war on France. In 1923, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th president of the United States. Hay Bailey Hutchison confined to a mental facility under its Sexually Violent Predators Act. But a great effort was mounted on Hendricks ’ behalf to gain his release. This was based (Mi the argument that the Fifth Amendment prohibition against “double jeopardy” — forbidding the government 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 In 1936, the State Department urged American* in Spain to leave because of that country’s civil war. In 1943, Gen. George S. Patton slapped a private at an army hospital in Sicily, accusing him of cowardice. Patton was later ordered by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to apologize for this and a second, similar episode. In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist, publicly accused former Stale Department official Alger Hiss of having been part of a Communist underground, a charge Hiss denied. In 1949, the National Basketball Association was formed 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 pact." Unfortunately, until last month’s ruling, the court has ignored Justice Jackson’s warning. Previous courts have put the rights of criminals - even child molesters - ahead of the rights of children to be safe in our society. Happily, the court has come around to the common sense idea that preventing 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 rape* oflfena-ca The Supreme Court ruling is indicative of this realization. Additionally, Texas and many other states have statutes similar to New Jersey’s “Megan’s Law," which require corn in 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater. In 1981, U.S. 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 Moscow’s Red Square in May 1987. In 1994, Stephen G. Breyer was sworn in as the Supreme Court's newest justice in a private ceremony at Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's Vermont summer home. Ten year* ago: The IrwvConfta con- 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 two-time child sex offenders when their cases are heard in federal court. It also provides a nationwide 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 children 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 US Senate.) gpeurioml hearings ended, with none of the 29 witnesses tying Prendent Reagan directly to the diversion of arms-sales profits lo Nicaraguan rebels. Five years ago: The Senate voted to sharply restrict and eventually end U.S. letting of nuclear weapons. One year agt: At the Atlanta Olympics, the U.S. men’s 400-meter relay, without Carl Lewis, foiled to win the goUnwdsk finishing behind Canada. The American women’s 400 and 1,600 relay teams, and foe men’s 1,600, aB won gold. Tbs UA men’s bmktthal team bett Yugoslavia 95-69 to win the gold. ;