Category: Local/State
Jarvis DeBerry: Louisiana is a safer place for Big Oil than Louisiana’s people
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:39 pm | Local/State | No comments

https://www.nola.com/opinions/article_3edfa350-e5ac-11eb-948a-5f09b024ff69.html

Jarvis DeBerry: Louisiana is a safer place for Big Oil than Louisiana’s people

Our Drowning Coast: Left to Louisiana's tides, Jean Lafitte fights for time
Oil industry infrastructure in wetlands south of Lafitte. (William Widmer, The New York Times)

State Rep. Danny McCormick’s attempt during the Legislature’s session to have Louisiana designated a “fossil fuel sanctuary state” would never have passed constitutional muster. The state can’t just up and decide that its laws take priority over the country’s. But in calling out the absurdity of the Oil City Republican’s legislation, there’s a chance that some of us lost sight of the reality that Louisiana — to our great peril — has long been a fossil fuel sanctuary state.

No, the state can’t protect Big Oil from the feds, but it protects it from everybody else — especially Louisianians who want the industry held accountable for its damage to the coast and its toxic effects on our air. And as accurate as it is to say that the state’s capitulation to the oil industry will destroy us, it’s even more accurate to say it has already destroyed us plenty.

Referring to the 1920s and ‘30s, Horowitz writes, “Southern Democrats like (St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes’ District Attorney Leander) Perez, icons for almost an almost fascist level of government power, used that power in the service of the owners and shareholders of Standard Oil, Freeport Sulphur, and other transnational corporate interests. Working with local government, these firms rewrote Louisiana’s constitution and redistributed its mineral wealth. Even as Governor Huey Long promoted quasi-socialist reforms to make ‘Every Man a King,’ and Perez boasted of his parish’s ‘Utopia’ with full employment, they were transferring huge amounts of public resources to private markets. Once they yielded influence to the oil interests, local politicians never regained the reins of power.”

Have Louisiana politicians ever demanded those reins? Even now, many act as if it’s important that Louisiana be thankful and deferential to those oil companies lest they storm off in a huff and leave oil in the ground. That deference dooms us.

 Should Louisiana be a ‘sanctuary state’ for oil and gas? This bill would make it so

As Horowitz writes, Louisiana politicians signaled generations ago that they’re OK with private companies getting the profit from oil exploration and the public paying the cost.

That cost includes the destruction of wetlands that previously dampened the blow of incoming hurricanes.

One could argue that the Perezes of the world didn’t know that giving the oil companies carte blanche in Louisiana would make Plaquemines Parish, as The New Yorker puts it, “among the fastest-disappearing places on Earth.”

But today’s officials can’t plead ignorance. They have seen what has happened and what is yet happening. And they’ve certainly been told that oil and gas exploration bears the lion’s share of the blame for our land loss.

But the oil industry’s legacy of destruction gives them no pause. They remain willing to cater to the industry’s every whim.

Although the legislation naming Louisiana a sanctuary state for fossil fuels didn’t pass, legislation making it easier for natural gas companies to avoid penalties after leaks did. There’s also a new law that gives industrial facilities the ability to self-report environmental violations to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, in exchange for reduced fines and the right to keep the public from knowing about the violations for two years. Lawmakers also passed laws against the solar energy industry, which doesn’t cause air pollution, and gave the go-ahead to chemical recycling, which reportedly does.

 Katrina’s 15th anniversary brings a pair of books that look back through different lenses

Together Louisiana, Louisiana Budget Project, the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice have given the Louisiana Legislature an ‘F’ for its stewardship of Louisiana’s air, land and water. Erin Hansen, who helped create the score card, said that “it feels like we’re moving backward at a time when science tells us we can’t do that.”

Oh, we can do it; we just can’t do it and survive.

Horowitz looks at the 90 years of decisions that preceded Hurricane Katrina’s destructiveness to challenge the common idea that the disaster was an acute, out-of-nowhere event or that it counts as an “act of God.” We’d do better to think of it as the consequences of allowing an industry to tear up the coast with impunity.

And to be sure, there are yet consequences to come. Because the state’s leaders continue to make Louisiana a safer place for oil companies to operate than for human beings to live.

Bob Marshall: When do we tolerate socialism in Louisiana? When oil companies benefit.
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:35 pm | Local/State | No comments

https://www.nola.com/opinions/article_22a7ed2e-e4e8-11eb-87c8-b71897b5b2c4.html

Bob Marshall: When do we tolerate socialism in Louisiana? When oil companies benefit.

Fieldwood Energy
An oil platform sits in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Fieldwood Energy)

Has anyone in Louisiana been able to get a home mortgage without first proving their financial worth and then purchasing flood insurance?

Of course not. That’s because lenders need to make sure you could meet the debt — especially if the worst happens. It is just part of doing business in this region and the nation.

Well, unless you own an oil and gas company and want to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In that case, you can get this sweetheart deal: If you go bankrupt taxpayers will help pay to clean up any mess you leave behind, such as polluting wells and corroding pipelines — even if it means less money for their schools, hospitals, roads … well, everything else.

What’s that you’re saying? You’re a Louisiana taxpayer and you didn’t agree to this terrible bargain?

Then you better wake up, because that’s the deal the politicians you’ve been sending to Baton Rouge and Washington have been signing in your name for decades.

The latest example of this con is on view in a Houston federal court where, as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Fieldwood Energy LLC has proposed abandoning as many as 1,715 wells, 281 pipelines and 276 platforms and letting you and previous owners pick up the estimated $9 billion tab for safely shutting down all that potentially polluting property.

But here’s the biggest gut punch for us suckers: This is the second bankruptcy Fieldwood has claimed in less than three years.

By now you’re wondering: How can this happen?

Well, when big oil companies routinely sell declining wells to smaller, less-capitalized companies on federal or state lands, the law says responsibility for properly shutting down that well goes to the new owner. But politicians made sure there were different rules for playing in the Gulf of Mexico to allow smaller, local companies to join the fun. So when leases change hands offshore, the responsibility for cleanup remains with the original owner.

 In Fieldwood bankruptcy, judge ‘freezes time’ on 1,700 Gulf of Mexico oil wells

But those original owners are some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world, and they often find ways to delay, reduce and absolve themselves of those costs and pass them on to the public. And that’s why industry insiders are not surprised Fieldwood could get a second chance even after its recent first bankruptcy.

An ethical solution isn’t complicated, said Megan Milliken Biven, the New Orleanian who has turned the insider knowledge of the oil and gas business gained while a staffer at the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management into a role as an innovative energy reformer. She says Canada’s Alberta government — the Texas of the North — has proposed a very simple and effective solution to take taxpayers off the hook while protecting the environment. It’s called “Sticky ARO.”

The “ARO” stands for asset retirement obligation. And “sticky” means a portion of the costs of that retirement stays with each of the owners until the property is properly shut down.

“Let’s say a well is owned by Chevron for 60% of its life and two other companies for 20% each. When it’s time for decommissioning they each would be on the hook for that percentage of the costs,” she explained.

“It’s a very fair way of sharing the costs of decommissioning based on the profit each company gained from ownership.”

 Oil firm’s plan to abandon 1,700 Gulf of Mexico wells could mean ‘environmental disaster,’ say rivals

Just as important, of course, is making each owner provide insurance proving they will have the funding to take care of their share before being allowed in the game — something that still isn’t done adequately by U.S. or state agencies.

And don’t let the industry tell you this isn’t a big problem. One federal audit showed between 2009 and 2018 there were 22 corporate bankruptcies in federal waters resulting in $4.3 billion in decommissioning liabilities. This doesn’t include the risks from 18,000 miles of inactive pipelines left behind since the 1960s in violation of federal laws requiring their removal. The same federal audit found enforcement almost nonexistent.

It’s all part of the type of socialism Louisiana and other red states think is fine. They believe businesses should be allowed to privatize profits, but socialize their risks.

Bob Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisiana environmental journalist, can be reached at bmarshallenviro@gmail.com, and followed on Twitter @BMarshallEnviro.


‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

https://www.rt.com/usa/529034-texas-democrats-voting-bill-washington/

‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

“My Democratic colleagues and I are leaving the state to break quorum and kill the Texas voter suppression bill,” James Talarico, who represents District 52 in the state House, tweeted on Monday afternoon. “We’re flying to DC to demand Congress pass the For The People Act and save our democracy.”

In a statement, the party said it was “once again making history” by walking out to break the quorum “in defense of voting rights.” Democrats seek to block “anti-voter bills” HB3 and SB1, which are supposed to be considered in the special session called by Governor Greg Abbott.

Described by the Republicans as “relating to election integrity and security, including by preventing fraud in the conduct of elections,” the proposed bills would require identification for voting by mail, prohibit unsolicited mail-in ballot applications, criminalize interference with election observers, and ban drive-through voting. Some or all of the measures that would be prohibited were introduced by Democrat jurisdictions last year, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Democrats have argued the proposals amount to “suppression” of their voters, who they say are disproportionately minorities. Republicans say they are intended to prevent voter fraud. Both have pointed to the case of Hervis Rogers, a convicted felon who was recently arrested and charged with illegally voting while he was on parole.

ALSO ON RT.COMTexas man who famously waited hours to vote in Democratic primary faces up to 40yrs in prison for illegal votingA KXAS-TV reporter shared online photos he was sent by one of the Democrats, showing the lawmakers on a bus to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and then inside the charter plane they were taking to Washington.

The photos showed cheerful Democrats smiling and flashing signs – and not wearing face masks, in apparent violation of a Biden administration mandate, which did not go unnoticed.

One of the photos from the bus showed the lawmakers bringing along a case of beer, for which they were mocked by a spokesman for the Republican speaker of the house.

Democrats walked out “in an attempt to stall election integrity legislation,” Speaker Dade Phelan said in a statement, saying that the move will “put at risk state funding that will deny thousands of hard-working staff members and their families a paycheck, health benefits, and retirement investment so that legislators who broke quorum can flee to Washington, DC in private jets.” 

The House “will use every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously passed House Rules to secure a quorum,” Phelan added. The last time Democrats left the state – crossing into Oklahoma in 2003 – state troopers were sent to detain them.

While this isn’t the first Democrat walkout, it is the first time they’ve gone all the way to Washington. Appealing to the federal capital fits into the overall strategy of the party to try and to pass federal election legislation, which would make many of 2020’s improvised rules permanent.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak on the topic in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is fundraising off the Texas stunt, urging Americans to donate to the Democrats in “the fight to protect and expand the right to vote.” Ironically, on Sunday she argued that “our democracy is stronger when everyone participates” – but apparently referred to elections, not state legislature sessions.

A number of US states run by Republicans have moved to pass laws regulating election procedures, after a number of new practices were rolled out in 2020 citing the Covid-19 pandemic. GOP lawmakers call them voter integrity laws, while Democrats claim they are voter suppression, and also racist. Biden’s Department of Justice last month sued Georgia over its voter reform bill, alleging much of it was “racially motivated.”

ALSO ON RT.COMBiden DOJ sues Georgia over ‘racist’ voting law, says it will prosecute ‘threats’ against election workers US-wideThink your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Texas man who famously waited hours to vote in Democratic primary faces up to 40yrs in prison for illegal voting
worker | July 12, 2021 | 7:51 pm | Local/State, Struggle for African American equality | No comments

https://www.rt.com/usa/528946-famous-texas-voter-arrested/

Texas man who famously waited hours to vote in Democratic primary faces up to 40yrs in prison for illegal voting

Texas man who famously waited hours to vote in Democratic primary faces up to 40yrs in prison for illegal voting
A man hailed by mainstream media outlets for standing in line for six hours to cast his ballot in last year’s Democratic primary has been arrested for voting illegally. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Hervis Rogers, 62, was a felon on parole at the time he voted in the November 2018 general election and the March 2020 Democratic primary, according to a two-count indictment by Texas prosecutors. His arrest set off a storm of criticism from the ACLU, anti-incarceration activists, and left-wing pundits, who claimed that it was unjust and racist, since Rogers is black.

ALSO ON RT.COMThere WAS a color revolution in the US after all – and its architects now BOAST of how they ‘fortified’ the 2020 electionHaving a Democratic voter who went viral for his determination turn out to be a felon voting illegally is rather controversial for a party that has fought against claims of illegalities surrounding the 2020 vote. Some have argued that the prosecution of Rogers is another attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise non-white voters.

“This is a voter-suppression prosecution, pure and simple, a poster child for Jim Crow 2.0,” the Texas AFL-CIO union group said. “Unfortunately, it confirms that Texas’ shameful legacy of disenfranchisement is alive and well and desperately needs fixing.”

Rogers was hailed for waiting in line more than six hours to vote on Super Tuesday 2020, reportedly casting the last ballot at a Houston polling site after 1am local time. National media outlets such as USA Today picked up the story, quoting him as saying, “I wanted to get my vote in to voice my opinion. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me, so I waited it out.” The local NPR affiliate said he voted for Joe Biden.

Top Democrats, such as Senator Chuck Schumer (New York) and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, also pounced on the incident to argue that the fact Rogers had to wait so long to vote was the result of GOP voter suppression.

Unfortunately, it also turned out to be an example of alleged voter fraud. Rogers was convicted of felony burglary in 1989 and 1995. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the latter case, then was released in 2004 with his parole scheduled to run to June 2020. That means he was still on parole when he voted in 2018 and again in March 2020, according to the indictment.

He was jailed last week, with bail set at $100,000. Voting while serving a felony sentence, including parole, is punishable in Texas by two to 20 years in prison, meaning Rogers could get a 40-year term if convicted and hit with the maximum penalty on each count with sentences running consecutively.

The Bail Project, an activist group that campaigns against cash bail, posted bond for Rogers on Saturday, securing his release while awaiting trial. Bail Project founder Robin Steinberg accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of using the indictment as a “targeted message of fear” to suppress the “turnout of people of color.” The group added that Rogers believed he was eligible to vote.

The ACLU, which is aiding Rogers’ legal defense, said the prosecution shows that “even innocent mistakes in the voting process can be criminalized.”

Nicole DeBorde, a legal analyst for CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, also represents Rogers. She said Rogers completed rehabilitation after “mistakes in his youth,” adding, “This case, for us, is about who we let the government decide to throw out like trash and who we deem worthy of the basic rights to participate in the processes we all hold dear.”

Rogers was about 36 at the time of his last conviction.

Social media users attacked the Texas AG for charging Hervis. For instance, poll analyst David Rothschild called Paxton a “shockingly bad person” who was “doing bad things to good people to score cheap political points in your voter-suppression crusade to create permanent white rule in Texas.” Author Megan Kelley Hall said Paxton deserves to go to jail, adding, “You are scum. You are a monster and a poor excuse for man. I hope you go someplace much hotter than Texas.”

 

Paxton responded to media coverage critical of the indictment, including a local NPR report, by saying “Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under Texas law … I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it.”

Governor Greg Abbott used the case as an example to argue that illegal voting should be a major concern. “Voter fraud is real,” he said. “It occurs mostly by mail ballots or ballot harvesting, but as seen here, it also occurs in person.”

 

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Tulane School of Medicine put on probation by accrediting agency after bias complaints

https://www.nola.com/news/healthcare_hospitals/article_1336e91e-df46-11eb-840c-bffb5f2379ea.html

Tulane School of Medicine put on probation by accrediting agency after bias complaints

 

    • JUL 7, 2021 – 12:09 PM

 

The Tulane University School of Medicine graduate medical program, which trains newly-minted doctors during their residencies at hospitals across New Orleans, was put on probation by a national oversight panel last week.

The panel did not state the reason for probation. But the rare step was taken after allegations of racial and gender discrimination erupted within the institution earlier this year. Tulane drew national attention after the dismissal of Dr. Princess Dennar, a Black female doctor, four months after she filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school.

Dr. Princess Dennar, a specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics at LCMC Health and Tulane Medical School.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or ACGME, notified Tulane of its decision on July 2.

Tulane is one of six medical training institutions currently on probation out of 865 regulated by the ACGME. Although the university’s 37 programs and fellowships employing nearly 500 physicians-in-training remain accredited, the institution-wide probation suggests the panel is concerned about the training program as a whole and its oversight of trainees.

“A status of probationary accreditation is conferred when it is determined that a sponsoring institution or program has failed to demonstrate substantial compliance with the applicable requirements,” said ACGME representative Susan White in an emailed statement.

The statement said the ACGME became aware of public reports of racial bias and discrimination in February of this year. Complaints began years before that.

After Tulane suspended a Black female doctor, medical community erupts with racism, bias claims

In April of 2018, seven Black female residents filed a formal discrimination complaint to the ACGME about what they alleged were unfair, time-intensive rotations that interfered with completing their program requirements.

Dennar filed a complaint at the same time, alleging that her authority over the combined internal medicine and pediatrics program she ran had been taken away. A few months before, another resident had lodged a similar complaint.

After a site visit triggered by those complaints, the accrediting agency noted several violations, including that Dennar did not have the agency to run her own program and residents were working more than 80 hours per week. In addition, it found that Dr. Jeffrey Wiese, then the head of the school’s internal medicine residency and current associate dean, had a conflict of interest in overseeing both his and Dennar’s programs. The ACGME did not find evidence of discrimination or bias during the site visit, but said it “could not be excluded.”

The probationary status was conferred after two more site visits in April 2021 following the uproar over Dennar’s dismissal. The ACGME does not disclose details of investigations, but said Tulane “is welcome to share information as it sees fit,” according to White.

Citing confidentiality, Tulane officials declined to say why it had been put on probation. A letter to medical residents from Dr. Lee Hamm, the dean of the medical school, said the “clear message from the ACGME” was to “improve the oversight” of programs and improve “learning and working environments, including enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion.”

The letter outlined several steps Tulane is taking to address the unnamed findings of the investigation, including reducing residents’ workloads, establishing a professionalism task force, hiring more staff for programs, retaining the services of the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm to conduct an evaluation of the programs, and hiring Sensei Change Associates, a management consulting firm.

After COVID, some Louisiana patients get diabetes diagnosis: ‘We should be concerned’

Graduating residency from an accredited institution is required for new doctors to practice on their own. When a training institution is stripped of accreditation, residents must find other positions in their specialty.

In addition to the entire institution’s probationary status, the ophthalmology program is on probation and the internal medicine and neurology programs are on warning status, the step before probation, according to the ACGME.

Some residents who felt their residency rocked during the controversy following Dennar’s dismissal see the probationary status is a good thing.

“The powers that be, now they’re on thin ice,” said a fourth-year resident who did not want to be named. “Tulane is a little too big to fail in regards to medical education. This will put them over the fire.”

But for prospective students, the probation status, which could take years to resolve, weighs heavily on their decision to apply for a Tulane residency.

“This throws a wrench into the thinking process,” said Russell Ledet, a fourth-year medical student at Tulane who was hoping to start a child psychiatry residency next year in his hometown of New Orleans. “Everything in me wants to stay here. Obviously, there is some hesitancy to go into residency programs that are on probation.”

Though Dennar remains the medical director of a clinic at University Medical Center and an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Tulane, she declined a condition-based offer for reinstatement from the school, instead proposing a different set of conditions, which Tulane did not entertain. She no longer teaches or supervises residents, many of whom were attracted to Tulane because of its track record caring for a diverse patient population.

Dennar’s lawsuit against Tulane University is ongoing. A trial date has been set for Jan. 24, 2022.

In a prepared statement, Dennar called the probationary status “a positive step toward addressing concerns raised by myself and others about racism, sexism and retaliation at Tulane University.”

The ACGME has scheduled another review for Jan. 2022. If the institution’s status remains probationary at that review, the school will have one more chance to improve at an additional review. At that time, if the school does not get removed from probation, the accreditation will be withdrawn.

COVID cases down, New Orleans families face new challenge: overflowing social schedules

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Jarvis DeBerry: The tax breaks for jobs scheme isn’t working out for Louisiana
worker | June 29, 2021 | 7:54 pm | Economy, Local/State | No comments

https://www.nola.com/opinions/article_fc87f8fa-d45c-11eb-8666-130fce735f95.html

Jarvis DeBerry: The tax breaks for jobs scheme isn’t working out for Louisiana

marathon oil refinery 2019_001.jpg
The Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville, La. Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

You, I and every other American taxpayer helped out Marathon Petroleum during the worst of the pandemic. Then, the same year it secured its $2.1 billion in federal tax benefits — the most of any U.S. oil company — Marathon let go almost 1,920 employees.

The “reductions,” to use Marathon’s word, included 45 workers at Marathon’s refinery in St. John the Baptist Parish who probably don’t say “reduced” when describing what the company did to them.

Marathon grabbed up our money but let go our neighbors. “Understanding the benefits that Marathon received to presumably stimulate them into maintaining full employment,” one of the laid-off workers told reporter Chris Staudinger, “it’s frustrating to have still been chopped.”

But in Louisiana, it’s not uncommon for industry to get government help — most often tax exemptions from the state — only to cut workers. The mere promise of jobs is enough to make state officials genuflect before the companies offering them.

Even when a company says up front it’s going to double the amount of pollution — consider Formosa’s plan to emit 800 tons of toxic air pollution each year in St. James Parish — we are told to pipe down lest we chase away potential jobs.

Robert Taylor, the 80-year-old leader of Concerned Citizens of St. John, made it clear in a phone interview that no number of jobs justifies people breathing air that’s killing them. When Taylor’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he moved her out of state. His daughter also left because, according to Taylor, she and three other Black women in St. John developed an autoimmune disease that only one in 5 million people get.

Taylor lives closer to the Denka plant (formerly Dupont) than to Marathon and mostly blames that plant for his family’s poor health, but he says none of the companies in St. John that boast about job creation provide evidence.

“All these companies, they guard their personnel records with their lives,” Taylor said. “There’s no access to anything about the demographics of employees. We’ve been fighting with (Marathon) as well as with DuPont/Denka to give us the statistics to let us know — since they brag about all the jobs. We’re always trying to find out what percentage of the population that has been impacted by them the most are they employing.”

But again, who cares?

“I would not trade off the health of the people here for any job at all,” Taylor said. “What good is a job going to do you if you’re dying? I know a guy who has retired (from Marathon); he got his son on. Both he and his son contracted the same form of cancer, but they are better able to deal with it and get the right medical care. They both survived the cancer, but the average person that lives here, which is 99% of us, we don’t have the kind of medical insurance and care that Marathon can give to the few token Blacks that they do hire.”

On the last day of the legislative session, state Rep. Royce Duplessis (D-New Orleans) asked the Louisiana House to extend the current 5% federal earned income tax credit by five years, calling it “good policy that … serves working people at the bottom of the totem pole.” state Rep. Blake Miguez (R-Erath), the leader of the Republican Caucus, objected to the projected cost of $20.5 million a year.

“This institution,” state Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Central) said in defense of Duplessis’ bill, “gives everything away for corporate, for business. We give it away. We don’t even think about it…. But when it comes to the people of our state, we’re going to have these unbelievable philosophical questions and concerns about whether it’s the right thing to do.”

In May, Ivey expressed dismay at his House colleagues who approved a bill that would have let companies getting tax breaks to create jobs keep private the salaries they pay their hires. That bill died in the Senate, but the message was still sent that, just like the feds, Louisiana doesn’t care much what corporations do after taking our money.

That’s one of many reasons we know the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong when it ruled in 2010 that corporations are people. People are capable of shame.

Texas allows residents to possess handguns with no license after Gov. Abbott signs controversial ‘constitutional carry’ bill
worker | June 21, 2021 | 7:28 pm | Action, Local/State | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/usa/526777-texas-handgun-licenses-bill/

Texas allows residents to possess handguns with no license after Gov. Abbott signs controversial ‘constitutional carry’ bill

Texas allows residents to possess handguns with no license after Gov. Abbott signs controversial ‘constitutional carry’ bill
Texans will soon be permitted to carry handguns without a license, with Governor Greg Abbott signing a bill into law that scraps most of the state’s permit requirements despite vocal opposition from police groups and the public.

After passing through the state Senate late last month, Abbott put his name to HB 1927 on Wednesday, legalizing what proponents call “Constitutional Carry,” which allows residents to possess pistols with no license or mandatory training.

While the law exempts those already prohibited to carry firearms under state or federal law, such as convicted felons, all other state residents aged 21 and up will be free to tote handguns, openly or concealed, once the legislation takes effect on September 1.

ALSO ON RT.COMNobody’s ‘coming after your guns,’ says Kamala Harris, who campaigned on coming after gunsThe bill passed both the state House and Senate despite objections from law enforcement groups, gun control advocates and even the public at large, with a recent poll showing some 59% of Texans surveyed are opposed to permitless carry.

A group of five police orgs led by the Dallas Police Association lobbied strongly against the bill, though ultimately compromised after state Senators included a number of amendments to the law to address their concerns, which largely centered on officer safety. Without the amendments, the groups said “many dangerous and unstable Texans will have unfettered access to weapons and face little or no punishment when apprehended.”

Former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who now serves as chief to Miami, Florida’s PD, also came out against the law last month, saying “From chiefs to sheriffs to police labor, we do not support permit-less, open carry.”

The compromise bill that was ultimately passed retained a provision that allows police to question residents solely based on their possession of a handgun, and also boosts criminal penalties for felons found to be carrying. State Senators also introduced a measure requiring the Texas Department of Public Safety to offer a free online gun safety course, in line with calls from other policing groups for residents to receive training.

Some police departments, such as those in Texarkana and Hooks, say they have no problem enforcing the new ‘Constitutional Carry’ law, with Texarkana police spokesman Shawn Vaughn stating “We enforce the law, whatever the legislature sees fit.”

“We’ve had no major issues [with handguns]. There are some people who will still be prohibited from carrying guns, such as felons, and those are the main ones we are concerned about,” he said.

Pro-gun groups have cheered the new bill, with the National Rifle Association deeming it “the most significant pro-Second Amendment measure in Texas history.” When the law passed the Texas state House, the Gun Owners of America hailed it as a “historic moment,” calling it a “strong bill with strong protections.”

Texas lawmakers have also passed a bill to make the state into a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” which will exempt it from any new federal gun legislation. Governor Abbott has already declared his intent to enact the law, saying “I look forward to signing it” in April, though it has yet to reach his desk.

ALSO ON RT.COMThere is NO RIGHT TO CARRY arms in public, US appeals court says in controversial ruling on gun rights case