Gov. Rick Perry today spoke at the Texas Association of Business (TAB) Annual Conference Luncheon to honor the 2010 Best Companies to Work For in Texas and accept TAB’s endorsement for his re-election. The endorsement confirmed that over a million individuals through their groups and organizations have stood up and said they are backing the Governor in his gubernatorial bid for 2010.
View all the pictures from the press conference by visiting Rick Perry's Flickr page.
Another great way to see updates from the campaign is by joining the nearly 3,000 people who follow @GovPerry2010 on Twitter.
Yesterday, Governor Perry highlighted the importance of strengthening our state’s education, maintaining a focus on job creation efforts, and upholding principles of fiscal responsibility as the keys to continuing Texas’ success. He spoke at Receptor Logic, a company working to develop therapies for cancer and infectious disease.
View all the pictures from the press conference by visiting Rick Perry's Flickr page.
Another great way to see updates from the trail is by joining the nearly 3,000 people who follow @GovPerry2010 on Twitter.
Gov. Rick Perry will be joined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in support of his re-election campaign on Sunday, Feb. 7 in the Houston area.
“I look forward to standing with Sarah to promote our shared conservative values of limited government, low taxes and individual freedom,” said Gov. Perry. “Gov. Palin is a true conservative leader whose priorities and message resonate with Texans, and I am honored to have her in Texas supporting my campaign.”
Gov. Palin will campaign with Gov. Perry to highlight the positive momentum Texas is experiencing through conservative leadership that has cut taxes, created jobs, strengthened education and secured our border.
Governor Rick Perry issued a statement this evening on Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown's big win in Massachusetts:
“I want to congratulate Senator-elect Scott Brown on his historic victory in Massachusetts. His election, along with the election last November of Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey, should send a loud and clear message that the states of this great nation will continue to reject the misguided policies coming out of Washington, D.C. The election of a 41st Republican to the U.S. Senate is especially significant to stop the ill-advised health care bill that will cost states billions of dollars. I fully support Senator-elect Brown’s pledge to stand with Republicans in Congress to stop this harmful piece of legislation.”
<em>A full accounting of medical malpractice reforms shows the benefits would be $242 billion a year.</em>
Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said medical-liability reforms could save about $11 billion annually. This assessment is a gross underestimate of the potential benefits of reform and was intended to give cover to congressional Democrats who say malpractice-liability costs are trifling. But a full accounting shows the benefits would be a hefty $242 billion a year, more than 10 percent of America's health expenditures.
Last year alone, damage awards for medical-malpractice claims reached $5.9 billion. Adding in legal costs, underwriting costs, and administrative expenses, total med-mal tort costs were nearly three times higher — $16 billion. From 1986 through 2002, the average insurance payment for a malpractice claim more than tripled to $320,000. The average jury award for medical liability was $637,134 in 2006.
Getting sued is now part of the job description for physicians. Each year, up to 25 percent of them face lawsuits. Doctors are found innocent in 90 percent of cases, but they lose even then — average defense costs per claim approach $100,000. Fear of lawsuits causes most doctors to practice "defensive medicine," meaning they order unnecessary tests, referrals, and procedures to protect themselves against allegations of medical negligence.
A recent survey of doctors published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 93 percent of physicians admit to practicing defensive medicine. A 2008 survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that about 25 percent of medical procedures are defensive in nature.
Defensive medicine wastes patients' and doctors' time and costs $191 billion annually, according to the best scholarly research. Such waste drives up the cost of medical care and the price of health insurance. In fact, by making health insurance more expensive, defensive medicine adds at least 3.4 million Americans to the rolls of the uninsured, and reduced productivity and annual output by more than $41 billion in 2008. To ease the burdens of malpractice lawsuits, jury awards should be capped for impossible-to-quantify "pain and suffering," so-called non-economic damages.
According to my study "Tort Law Tally," capping awards in med-mal lawsuits cuts losses an average of 39 percent and annual insurance premiums by 13 percent. But the most important benefit from caps is better access to care. States with caps have 12 percent more physicians per capita than states without caps, according to a study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Non-economic-damage caps were an integral part of the malpractice reforms adopted in Missouri in 2005. Skyrocketing malpractice premiums had caused shortages of specialists, and patients had problems getting treatment. Thanks to the reforms, med-mal claims in Missouri are at a 30-year low. Average payouts are $50,000 lower than they were in 2005, before the caps went into effect.
Texas capped non-economic damages in 2003 as part of a broader tort-reform package, and since then, more than 16,500 doctors have flooded into Texas, many to previously underserved rural and minority communities. Texas has jumped six spots in the American Medical Association's ranking of doctors per capita. Nearly 430,000 Texans have health insurance today as a result of the medical liability reforms, says the Perryman Group.
Rising liability costs are causing hospitals to close; doctors to flee states; maternity centers, trauma centers, and clinics to shut down; and patients to travel long distances due to chronic shortages of providers in some communities. Congressional testimony relates the cases of Tony Dyess, who is brain-damaged, and Fred Andricks, who died, because lawyers drove neurologists out of their local areas, forcing long delays in treatment while being airlifted.
Despite these grim realities, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, claims: "The whole premise of a medical malpractice 'crisis' is unfounded." The senator is wrong, and so are those, including the CBO, who minimize the burdens.
Effective malpractice reforms would allow doctors to spend more time with patients, not attorneys, increase access to health insurance and local providers, and provide benefits of at least $242 billion a year. Less spending on wasteful litigation means better patient care and lower costs for all Americans.
Mr. McQuillan is director of business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute and coauthor of "The Facts about Medical Malpractice Liability Costs" and "Tort Law Tally."
Texas Instruments Inc. said Tuesday that it is finally ready to start making computer chips at a plant it completed in Richardson in 2006.
The company said it has begun hiring the first 250 workers for the plant, which it says will eventually employ as many as 1,000.
The building has been sitting empty.
Now, with the discounted purchase of $172.5 million in manufacturing equipment from a company in bankruptcy, TI is ready to get to work.
"The time is right for this investment," Rich Templeton, chairman, president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.
"Customer demand for analog chips is growing, and there's tremendous desire to save energy and protect the environment. The chips produced here will help our customers make thousands of electronic products that are more energy-efficient. It is significant that these devices will be made here, in North Texas, in one of the industry's most environmentally responsible fabs [fabricating plants]."
Richardson Mayor Gary Slagel, whose résumé includes 17 years at TI, said in an interview that regular communication with the company had made him confident TI wouldn't abandon the facility.
And even while the facility sat dormant, it generated roughly $4.1 million in property taxes for the city, Slagel said.
TI said the plant would produce 300-millimeter silicon wafers from which chips are cut, much bigger than the commonly used 200-millimeter wafers.
Being able to get more chips out of each wafer reduces costs and increases production volume.
The analog chips built at the Richardson factory will be used in wireless smart phones, computers, industrial telecommunications equipment and other applications.
The first chips are expected to start shipping by the end of 2010, and the plant will eventually produce more than $1 billion worth of chips every year.
TI also emphasized the larger economic impact.
"These are high-quality, well-paying engineering, manufacturing and administrative jobs for our North Texas region," Templeton said. "The infrastructure that a facility like this requires will create other indirect jobs with suppliers and support services."
The original deal to build the plant also included $300 million for the University of Texas at Dallas to bolster its engineering efforts. That funding was supplied by the Texas Enterprise Fund, the UT System, UT Dallas itself, other state funds and private donors.
Slagel said the new facility – which TI says is the first chip plant to go into production in the U.S. since 1996 – should be around for years.
"Those fabs are very, very expensive," he said. "It will have a long life."
Our images of bravery usually come wrapped in Army green or police-force blue.
But bravery comes in blond, too.
Jenna Quinn may look more like a beauty queen than an icon of bravery, but her courage is something to behold.
Jenna is a triumphant survivor of sexual abuse.
No, more than mere survivor, she has become a valiant warrior against sexual abuse of children and adolescents.
A new Texas law bears her name. And the 22-year-old Carrollton woman leaves today for Boston, where she will meet with legislators and others to encourage the fight against sexual molestation.
We first met Jenna here five years ago. She was 17 years old and already showing her courage.
Victims of sex crimes usually aren't named in news stories, but Jenna wanted her name used. She wanted to be a model of openness to other victims.
See, Jenna had previously tried to be brave in a very different way. For several years, starting at age 13, she worked very hard to keep a secret.
The secret: She was being sexually molested by her father's best friend.
His family and hers were practically one big family – always together, sharing meals, celebrating holidays, traveling as a group.
Because Jenna knew that telling her secret would devastate so many others, she decided to suffer the ordeal alone. And suffer she did, undergoing so much emotional torment that she came close to suicide.
Finally telling her secret brought such sweet relief that she has been on a campaign ever since to spare others her torment.
The first step in that campaign was telling her story in my column, just a few days after her molester was sentenced to 20 years in prison. "I'm not scared. Don't you be scared," she told other victims at the time.
She followed that by telling her story for a short documentary film, It's Not Just Jenna. Kellie Quinn, Jenna's mom, said the film is now used in schools all around the state to heighten awareness of sexual abuse – particularly that it's most often perpetrated by a close, trusted person.
Jenna said her proudest moment came in August when Gov. Rick Perry held a ceremony to sign "Jenna's Law." The legislation creates a state task force on sexual abuse and requires schools to implement more education and prevention measures.
The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, praised Jenna for both proposing the idea and helping get it passed. "Her passionate testimony and strong dedication effectively moved this bill through the legislative process," he said.
Jenna said she hopes the warning signs of abuse will become better known, leading to earlier detection. "It takes pressure off the victim and puts more responsibility on parents and caretakers," Jenna said.
Along with all these accomplishments, Jenna managed to graduate in just three years with a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas.
And she graduated with honors, no less.
As far as her molester, Jenna said she's disappointed that he still hasn't apologized. But she said she has forgiven him. "I just feel sorry for him," she said.
Their two families are no longer close. But Jenna was thrilled to get a note of congratulations on Jenna's Law from her molester's ex-wife.
"It meant everything to me," she said.
Jenna is excited about starting graduate school in January. She plans to become a counselor working with autistic children.
"I feel as though I've been restored fully," she said. "I couldn't be any better. I feel blessed."
We Texans value our property and private property rights are at the very core of a free society.
That explains why the controversial Kelo decision of 2005 rocked the nation as property rights activists rolled up their sleeves to get greater protections written into state constitutions, as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested.
The Texas legislature has passed a bill which, if passed on the November ballot, will improve private property rights in the State of Texas. By declaring that Prop.11 is "counterfeit eminent domain reform," some opponents are suggesting the legislation doesn't go far enough.
Rather than focusing on what is in the proposition, some naysayers are busy telling you what is not in the proposition. It is true that good faith negotiations, diminished access to property, relocation of displaced landowners, and voter approval of eminent domain are not covered in the proposal.
However, those are not issues which arose from the Kelo case that this legislation was designed to remedy. Those are issues that came up in property owners' opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor. Should the issues be addressed? Sure, but they can just as easily be addressed in statute as the constitution.
You may recall that the Kelo decision allowed local entities to take property - even homesteads - if the local government could get more in tax revenues were the property converted to another use - like a shopping center.
This isn't the legislature's first try to stop that opportunity. Legislation passed in the 2007 Legislative Session didn't make it to the ballot. With the support of the bill sponsor, Rep. Frank Corte, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill.
Some would have you believe that Gov. Perry's 2007 veto of HB 2006 should result in the defeat of this measure because it does not propose that everything that was in that bill be added to the Texas Constitution. Even the Farm Bureau isn't buying that logic. That veto may have cost the governor the Farm Bureau's endorsement this campaign cycle, but the Farm Bureau is strongly in support of this constitutional measure. They recognize that this does not give them everything they would like, but it certainly moves us forward in the process of private property rights protection.
Here is how Proposition 11 would amend the Constitution in four primary ways:
1. It would define the term "public use," rather than leaving the definition of that term up to court interpretation;
2. It would specify that the taking of property for the purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes is not a public use;
3. It would provide that property taken to eliminate urban blight must be done on a parcel by parcel basis; and
4. It would require that any future power of eminent domain granted requires a 2/3 vote of the Texas Legislature.
So, why a constitutional amendment instead of statutory reform? The U.S. Supreme Court in rendering the Kelo case overturned years of precedent and changed the definition of public use that is found in both the Texas and U.S. Constitution. To prevent further erosion of property rights in Texas, there had to be a constitutional fix to the definition of "public use."
The definition used in Proposition 11 defines both what public use is, and reiterates what it is not. Public use does not include the taking of property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes. That's protection we don't have if the proposal fails. But, Prop 11 goes even further to prevent the taking of property to eliminate urban blight except on a parcel by parcel basis. This will stop local governments from declaring a few pieces of property as blighted and then taking all the property in an area for a development project.
Passage of private property protection has been a long time coming in Texas. Passage of Prop. 11 will send a clear message to legislators that the issue is of utmost concern to the voters. Failure to pass the measure will let them know there is no need to continue to work on the issue because the people making the most noise will not even be content with a victory.
Peggy Venable is the State Director for Americans for Prosperity- Texas, www.afptx.org <http://www.afptx.org/> .
NEWS REPORTS that have flooded the media since the national health-care debate began have, for the most part, accurately reported the positive impact of medical-liability reforms passed in Texas in 2003. What has not been reported is the relentless and ongoing trial-lawyer attack against tort reform in Texas and nationwide.
Before the reforms, 24 Texas counties had no emergency-room physician. Now all do. Another 58 counties have added at least one more emergency-room physician to expand access to care. Twelve counties had no licensed obstetrician. Now they all do. And another 26 counties have at least one more obstetrician than they had before the reforms. Twelve Texas counties have added at least one orthopedic surgeon, including seven counties that previously had none.
Reforms passed in Texas dramatically increased the total number of doctors in our state — especially high-risk specialists — by lowering medical-liability insurance costs by as much as 50 percent and by reducing the threat that doctors will spend more days in court than treating patients. The reforms do not deny a citizen’s right to his or her day in court, but they do help to mitigate the threat of meritless lawsuits that drive up the cost of medicine without any demonstrable improvement in quality.
When nervous doctors are forced to practice expensive defensive medicine, common sense tells you it will increase medical costs. Ask your own doctor, and get ready for a serious conversation.
The economic benefits to Texas of systemic lawsuit reform go far beyond health care. Common-sense reforms like putting an end to judge-shopping, reforming joint and several liability, capping punitive damages, reining in abusive class-action lawsuits and curbing asbestos and silica lawsuit abuse had results that have helped Texas expand its economy.
It is no coincidence that last year our state created more jobs than the other 49 states combined, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the positive impact of lawsuit reform has not moved trial lawyers to retire quietly into the night, even in Texas. Instead, they are fighting harder than ever. Trial lawyers spend far more in campaign contributions in Texas than any other business or industry, says a study of Texas Ethics Commission campaign-expenditure reports compiled by Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
Nationally, some analysts estimate that their campaign contributions total more than $1 billion a year. To assure there will be more money where that came from, a new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently found, trial lawyers have increased spending on medical-liability advertising from $3.8 million in 2004 to $62 million in 2008, a 1,400 percent increase. Those ads are running in Texas as well as states where no reforms have been enacted.
In addition, personal-injury trial lawyers have leveled the most aggressive and sustained attack on lawsuit reform that we have seen in over a decade. They pushed more than 900 bills this year to try to get the Texas Legislature to roll back lawsuit reforms or create new opportunities to sue. Trial lawyers mask the size and source of their millions in political contributions by funneling them through innocuous-sounding front groups like the Texas Values in Action Coalition and Vote Texas.
Trial lawyers know that at least 70 percent of Americans believe the country suffers from too many lawsuits. They understand the public would not respond positively if they knew how much money trial lawyers put into campaigns. President Obama did not include aggressive lawsuit reform in his health-care plan priorities, and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a physician, has made it clear why: “The reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers.”
Congress should not be intimidated. Lawsuit reform must be a key part of any effort to improve the quality and access of health care in America.
Richard Weekley, of Houston, co-founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform in 1994 and is currently volunteer chairman and chief executive.
Final Four Determined. Bill White Releasing his Income Taxes…Undetermined.
Continuing to hide his taxes and facing an ethics complaint, Bill White enters day 22 of refusing to release his income taxes.
“As March madness continues to sweep the country, liberal trial lawyer Bill White continues to sweep his tax returns under the table,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Bill White, facing an ethics complaint, continues to hide from releasing his taxes. What is he afraid of? What other shady business dealings is he covering-up? Come clean Mr. Bill and release your income taxes for the years you were in public service. The people of Texas are waiting.”
In addition to hiding his income taxes from the people of Texas, White is the subject of an ethics complaint filed with the Texas Ethics Commission regarding $83,677 in income he reported on his 2009 income tax returns but did not include on his 2009 personal financial statement.
Hiding his taxes, facing an ethics complaint, and celebrating Obamacare with other liberal trial lawyers
Day 18 of liberal trial lawyer Bill White refusing to release his income taxes is also the eve of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Dallas to attend a Democratic fundraiser at the home of another trial lawyer. White would obviously be welcome at the event where they will be celebrating the passage of Obamacare which White supports, rarely comments on, and always avoids talking about with the media.
“Supporting Obamacare is not the only thing that Vice President Biden and Shady Bill White have in common. The Vice President used foul language recently and Bill White fouled up his ethics report and Houston’s budget,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Bill White, facing an ethics complaint, continues to hide his taxes. What is he afraid of? What other shady business dealings is he covering up? Maybe Vice President Biden can advise Bill White to come clean and release his taxes for his time in public service.”
White’s secret $83,677 from Wedge Group in 2009 revealed in tax returns after being omitted from personal financial statement
Liberal trial lawyer and shady businessman Bill White is playing shell games with his money in another deceitful attempt to hide his outside income from the people of Texas.
In his 2009 income tax returns, which White begrudgingly released last week, it was revealed that he earned $83,677 in wages from Wedge Services, LCC in 2009. Though White omitted these wages from the 2009 personal financial statement he filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, he is now claiming he received this payment through stocks and mutual funds despite reporting the $83,677 as wages to the Internal Revenue Service.
One of the world's largest oilfield services companies continued to tell U.S. EPA it was complying with an agreement barring the injection of diesel fuel near drinking-water aquifers, documents show, after admitting to Congress that it had violated the pact.
BJ Services Co. acknowledged in January 2008 to investigators from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it had violated a 2003 agreement not to use diesel in specific types of hydraulic fracturing. When that was disclosed last month, a BJ Services executive said that the company had "self reported" the violation to EPA.
Day 16: Liberal Trial Lawyer Bill White Refuses to Release Income Taxes
Statement from Texans for Rick Perry Spokesman Mark Miner Regarding Ethics Complaint Filed Against Former Houston <a href="http://www.liberalbill.com/" target="_blank">Mayor Bill White</a>:
"By filing a false and misleading ethics report that is punishable by civil and criminal penalties, Bill White lied to the people of Texas about his finances. His failure to report earnings from his shady business dealings are another example of why he should release all of his income taxes for his years in public service. Bill White continues to dodge questions about his shady business dealings, and today’s revelation that he failed to report income on his state ethics report is further reason he should come clean and release his income taxes. It’s time for Bill White to be open and honest with the people of Texas.”