in Houston, Texas
Surprise: shoppers go out of their way to avoid ban on plastic grocery bags
Friday, Aug 17, 2012, 11:16AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Plastic

Soaring on righteous fervor, the Austin City Council in March somehow neglected to make provision to punish citizens disloyal enough to shop outside of the limits of its ban on plastic grocery bags.

It seems, based on a new study by the National Center for Policy Analysis, that shoppers facing the inconvenience in Los Angeles County have for the last year been sneaking across the ban borders to shop.

Overall, sales at stores inside the Polyethylene Wall were down by 3.3 percent. Sales just outside the wall were up by 3.4 percent, according the survey of store managers in and out of Los Angeles County.

At nearly 80 percent of stores in the ban zone sales were off by nearly 6 percent. At 60 percent of the stores outside the zone sales were up by 9 percent.

Bag-ban managers in every store surveyed laid off at least one employee and staffing overall was down 10 percent, the study says. Employment at the outside stores was up, but by just 2.4 percent.

Add to that the amount of energy shoppers are expending to skirt the ban and you have what the Center’s study refers to as unintended consequences.

It might be good to establish at this point that National Center for Policy Analysis is a nonprofit organization in the business of questioning government regulation while promoting a competitive and entrepreneurial free market.

Not a likely candidate to be giving advice to a City Council that regularly ignored past warnings of  those unintended consequences and accepted as fact plastic bag cleanup costs that had been mistakenly inflated by 366 percent.

But having been prescient enough to make it a crime for stores to use plastic bags after March of 2013, it isn’t too late for the City Council to include penalties for people with the temerity to shop where they want to shop.

***

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.
Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feed in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.

Photo of Plastic by flickr user mtsofan, used via a Creative Commons license.

 

TX GOP lawmakers push for free-market health care reforms; federal rules place a straightjacket on changes
Thursday, Jan 27, 2011, 12:31AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
surgery

AUSTIN, Texas -- Asked to predict what the state Legislature might accomplish this session in the way of meaningful health care reform, Rep. Mark Shelton, a doctor, paused for a moment and ventured that by Memorial Day he and his colleagues will have balanced the budget.

That was Shelton's way of saying he had absolutely no idea what, if anything, the Legislature might get done on what he calls the issue of our age. Like other lawmakers and health care advocates, Shelton, R-Fort Worth, is chafing with ideas for change but wracked by an uncertainty bordering on paralysis over the future of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
 
vote last week in the U.S. House to repeal the so-called ObamaCare act, while a pointed repudiation of what conservatives say is overreach by the president, is unlikely to make it to the floor of the Senate, much less past a presidential veto. A lawsuit joined by Texas and 26 other states challenging the constitutionality of parts of the health care bill will take time making its way to the Supreme Court, where some supporters say the makeup of the court makes a favorable decision a crapshoot.
 
And in spite of tough talk from conservatives led by Gov. Rick Perry hinting that Texas might be better off pulling out of Medicaid, for example, the truth is the states are bound up by the federal health care straightjacket, making even little movements nearly impossible.
 
Shelton, among the leading heath care reform proponents, has been working with the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas to craft something called the Insurance Portability Act. But rather than roll out this ambitious bill to allow Texans to choose and own their own health care, in a way similar to a 401(k) plan that can be taken from job to job, Shelton intends to file the much more modest Health Care Accountability Act, requiring the federal government to tell the states just how much ObamaCare is going to cost them.
 
Mark SheltonSHELTON
"The first thing we have to do, before anything, is figure out what this bill is going to cost us. I don't think anybody could be against that, right?" Shelton said. "I'm not sure what we're going to do beyond that. Everybody - the Legislature, the insurance companies, small business, the public - everybody is on hold, and I worry about that."
 
The "everybody" Shelton is talking about suspects that ObamaCare will be ruinously costly. While supporters of the bill point to the modest cost increase estimates of the Congressional Budget Office, critics have charged that the demands of ObamaCare on Medicaid alone will be enough to bankrupt many states.
 
Jagadeesh Gokhale, a health care economist with the Cato Institute, was in Austin in mid-January carrying this warning in his forecast of Medicaid growth gone mad in Texas. At the request of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, Gokhale produced a study that predicted that in 30 years Medicaid would cost $460 billion every two years, representing half of the entire state budget.
 
Absent national health care reform, the Medicaid health care program for the poor in Texas is projected to cost $112 billion more over the decade between 2014 and 2023. Gokhale estimated that ObamaCare requirements will add as much as $38.6 billion to that total.
 
Medicaid currently accounts for a little less than a third of all state spending. In 2014, the year ObamaCare takes effect, Gokhale estimates that will jump to almost 47 percent of all state spending.
 
Predicting doom is one thing. Offering a plan for averting it is another. When he sat down with Texas Watchdog, Gokhale seemed a little perplexed by Perry's suggestion that Texas withdraw from the Medicaid program, doubting the state could raise the $15 billion in federal Medicaid funds annually to provide a comparable state health plan.
 
Gokhale was also skeptical that elected officials in Texas or anywhere else would have the political courage to systematically scale back the subsidies that have gradually been added to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
 
But while he preferred to think of the flux of ObamaCare as an opportunity to do something, Gokhale seemed relieved that all he was required to do was provide his grim estimates.
 
"It seems to be clear that the alternative is to begin exploring a free market model," he said. "But will it work? Who can say? We've never been there before."
 
PERRY SUGGESTION TO DROP MEDICAID 'AN IMPLIED THREAT'

Well known for his antipathy toward federal entanglements, conservatives weren't surprised when Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texas go its own way on Medicaid.
 
Katherine Yoder, the governor's health care policy specialist, however, said it was a first shot across the bow of the federal government's health care warship.
 
"It was an implied threat," Yoder said. "When we did the research, we decided that realistically it wasn't possible."
 
The governor has his own set of doomsday numbers. Yoder uses phrases like "critical point" and "future of society" to describe the risk of doing nothing on health care. The centerpiece of Perry's position on health care, Yoder said, is the need for a system of cost sharing for participants in Medicaid, the idea that no system can improve itself unless everyone has a stake in its success.
 
And yet any talk of reform returns to the iron grip the federal government has on health care. The governor is quietly assessing the legislation being proposed for the state, and is taking no positions right now, Yoder said.
 
"The calls we get are from doctors saying the system is broken and from small business owners saying they are afraid of the system," Yoder said. "But there are an awful lot of people who are afraid of any change in the system."
 
David DewhurstDEWHURST
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he is prepared to introduce his own package of free market changes, taken from health care bills crushed and killed in the pileup of bills behind a Democratic effort that killed a Republican voter identification bill. As he has for the past few years, Dewhurst said he wants doctors and hospitals rewarded for good medical outcomes, best medical practices and the promotion of wellness and prevention rather than compensated for the number of procedures and patients.
 
"There are no financial incentives to motivate doctors to keep patients well or for hospitals to treat people and release them in a timely way," Dewhurst said. "We don't have health care in Texas, we only have sick care."
 
Dewhurst seems optimistic that a conservative surge in the House will give free market health reforms the boost they need, although just exactly what those reforms would look like or which ones the Legislature might support are a bit gauzy.
 
Judging from the first major health care test of the session, even toddler steps toward reform will be seen as risky. Another doctor, Rep. John Zerwas, R- Katy, has proposed the state of Texas beat a 2014 ObamaCare deadline and establish a state health care exchange.
 
An exchange - at least to judge from Utah and Massachusetts, the only two states that have them - is hardly the kind of open market of the kind Texans enjoy when choosing their power provider. But already lawmakers are taking sides. Neither Dewhurst nor Perry will have anything to do with the Massachusetts exchange model because its state control eliminates client choice.
 
Other conservatives have said they won't consider Zerwas' or any exchange because the Obama health care bill calls for a national exchange in 2014 for all states that haven't established their own. Defending his bill, Zerwas has consistently flashed his ObamaCare opponent badge hoping that his fellow legislators will agree that any kind of exchange set up by Texans is better than one set up by Washington.
 
Shelton envisions the vacuum of state legislative inaction being filled by negative reactions to ObamaCare: Insurance companies rewriting their policies in ways that push clients toward the public pool, small businesses opting to pay fines and drop out of health care coverage altogether, costs continuing to rise untethered.
 
Sometime later in the session Shelton said he plans to offer up his Insurance Portability Act, not that he's at all confident of passage. With the current health care climate, no one is very confident of any change.
 
"At least I'd like to get it out there to be discussed," he said. 
 

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.


Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feed in your newsreader. We're also onMySpaceDiggFriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.

Texas state Rep. John Zerwas says his plan for health insurance exchange would promote competition, keep costs down
Thursday, Jan 13, 2011, 05:48PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

 

x-ray

Rather than wait for the federal government to impose a system on Texas, Rep. John Zerwas is proposing a bill that would establish the third state-run insurance exchange in the country.

Exchanges in Utah and Massachusetts serve as a kind of managed competition among companies offering health insurance to clients. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, familiarly known as ObamaCare, requires that states prove that they can run such an exchange by 2013 or be forced to join the American Health Benefit Exchange.

Zerwas, a Republican anesthesiologist from Katy and a steadfast foe of the health reform package, said Texas would be far better off creating and running its own health insurance exchange. The exchange, he said, would supplement rather than supplant the current health insurance market.

John ZerwasZERWAS

“Something must be done to ensure health insurance remains affordable, and the goal of this bill is to keep the cost of coverage down by promoting competition and ensuring Texas families and Texas employers have the right to choose their own coverage,” Zerwas said.

While the exchange or insurance connector model is far from free market health insurance, Zerwas said it encouraged companies to differentiate their coverage packages and to better inform customers about exactly what they are buying. Zerwas' exchange would offer at least a minimum level of protection for the entire spectrum of hospitalization, medical and surgical care and emergency services.

Zerwas was in the audience this morning at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin for a Texas Public Policy Foundation forum as several health care experts warned Texans not to stand idle now that the state attorney general and two dozen other state attorneys general have sued to have ObamaCare repealed. 

"The worst thing you can do is wait, wait, wait, because in 2014 we will let them tell us their way of doing it," John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, told an audience for a panel discussion on health insurance exchanges.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

 

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feed in your newsreader. We're also onMySpaceDiggFriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.


Photo of an X-ray by flickr user timsnell, used via a Creative Commons license.

 

  • 1
Video
KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Watering Hole 1114 B Potomac Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Comment of the Day: Still Missing the Good Ol’ Days “I was born in ’91, so I never got to experience the little mom and pop stores (hardware store or otherwise). I wish I could have...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Nothing Really Happens with This Bed Bug Shutdown Notice and Implosion Threat Posted to a Westheimer Strip Center Mattress Store “The movie finally makes a reasonable amount of sense now” after 4 years of work on it, writes producer Joseph Graham on the...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Swamplot Sponsor: Central Bank Swamplot’s sponsor today is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thanks for the continuing support! Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
The Next Food Hall Coming to Downtown Houston Will Be a Storeful of Open Kitchens If you’re just coming up to speed on the whole food hall thing, remember this: It’s not a food court, it’s a food hall....
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Amazon Will Swallow Whole Foods Whole For those who expected Whole Foods Market to shop itself to a fellow grocery store chain and not a powerful company experimenting with...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
This Century’s Rise in Home Prices; Rare Local Air Monitoring Equipment Exhibited at Museum Houston-Area Home Prices Have Increased Nearly 30% Since 2000, Finds Harvard Study [Houston Chronicle] Stream, AMD To Develop 5-Story...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Daily Demolition Report: Feagan, and Again, and Again Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report lists buildings that received City of Houston demolition permits the previous weekday. Demolition is...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Blessed are the Poor: Examining opposition to debtors-prison legislation Texas State Sen. Paul Bettencourt was quoted by the Associated Press (June 11) criticizing debtors-prison legislation (SB 1913) which...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Vault 14759 Oak Bend Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Bones Found in Holdout Heights House Attic Tell No Tales Fox26 has now updated its story from March on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the fate of Mary Cerruti, the former owner of the...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Fast Indian Comes to the Strip Center End of 19th St. Just opened this week in Re:Vive Development’s new add-on strip center at 721 W. 19th St., just west of Shepherd Dr.: the first...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
A Personal Big Day at L'Auberge in Lake Charles In previous posts, including in my Lifetime of Running Cold history of my personal gambling, Iit's been mentioned that I've been...
Update:2 years 9 months
Cory Crow
Debtors-prison policies decried, DPS cuts license center hours, and other stories Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused on preparing for a much-need break next week.SCOTUS...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Junk-science based false convictions in Houston lampooned by comedian Someone has finally grokked and managed to convey in an accessible, understandable way the unmitigated travesty of justice surrounding drug...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Just Liberty post-session roundup podcast Here's the latest Just Liberty podcast - this time reviewing criminal-justice reform legislation from the 85th Texas Legislature -...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Governor signs omnibus innocence bill to track informants, record interrogations Governor Greg Abbott today signed HB 34, Texas' latest omnibus innocence legislation. Grits explained in this post why the eyewitness ID...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston meeting of Texas Latino GOP PAC tomorrow evening From the InBox: The Texas Latino GOP PAC are the gatekeepers to the conservative Latino Community, for far too long GOP outreach to Latino...
Update:2 years 9 months
Big Jolly Politics
Sen. Joan Huffman to recap the 85th From the InBox: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, June 14 (Flag Day!), for our meeting with State Sen. Joan Huffman, SD 17, who will be discussing...
Update:2 years 9 months
Big Jolly Politics
Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom" Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Unanswered questions about law-of-parties beyond death penalty In our podcast the other day, Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo estimated that 10 percent of death-row defendants...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
Legislative Session The 85th Legislative Session was different in many ways. Two things changed the narrative this session. First, Empower Texans successfully...
Update:2 years 10 months
Big Jolly Politics
Court trends advise tempered enthusiasm for HB 34 eyewitness ID reforms Does this sound like a suggestive photo array to put before a witness?A witness described being robbed at gunpoint by a “[b]lack male,...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
MAY 22, 2917 / Theodore Dalrymple on secularization and transcendence THE SECULARIZATION of Europe is hardly any secret. Religion's long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no...
Update:2 years 10 months
Unca Darrell
MAY 10 / James B. Comey . . . . . . needed firing. Everything he did during the 2016 election was wrong. He was wrong . . . . . . back in July to release information...
Update:2 years 11 months
Unca Darrell
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped...
Update:3 years 1 week
Rick Perry vs The World
APRIL 5, 2017 / Weeding out the audience at the Alley is . . . . . . a feature, not a bug. Houston's Alley Theatre is running "An Act of God," a loosely dramatized collection of irreverent one-liners...
Update:3 years 1 week
Unca Darrell
Statewide primary rumors It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. ...
Update:3 years 2 weeks
Rick Perry vs The World
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really. Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc...
Update:3 years 3 weeks
Rick Perry vs The World
MARCH 16, 2017 / Jim Webb on what it means to be a redneck, and . . . . . . why redneck culture matters. In 2004 Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Though the 2016 presidential...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
MARCH 3, 2017 -- Goodbye, and thanks, to Thomas Sowell THOMAS SOWELL, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America's most important public intellectuals, retired from...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
March 2, 2017 / The poem our teachers got wrong TWO ROADS diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Generations of commencement...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
FEBRUARY 27 / Eric Hoffer on . . . . . . baby boomers and alienated intellectuals. "SCRATCH AN INTELLECTUAL, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
2017 Project: January “Progress” There are two different ways to interpret my 2017 project: that it's a way more complicated New Years Resolution, or that it is essentially...
Update:3 years 2 months
Greg's Opinion
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell It...
Update:3 years 2 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Andrea Parquet-Taylor named KTVT CBS 11 news director Former KHOU 11 assistant news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor named Vice President, News Director for KTVT CBS 11 Andrea...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate? Hat tip to Willisms: VIDEO- Wendy Davis being Wendy Davis: https://t.co/SHq3ACGVDJ #txlege— Will Franklin (@WILLisms) January 24,...
Update:3 years 2 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Luke Bryan to sing National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI on FOX ​ Country music superstar LUKE BRYAN will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI pregame festivities at NRG Stadium in Houston...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 10 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 10 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 10 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 10 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 7 years 10 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 10 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 7 years 10 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 10 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 10 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 10 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 7 years 10 months
If you see news in or around San Antonio 'SEND IT' to @NEWS4WOAI here: http://t.co/uMqbMXQv OR email us at: NEWSDESK@WOAITV.COM
swamplot | 7 years 10 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 10 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 10 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 10 months
Mental Health Awareness Week FREE Webinar:"Understanding Depression-How to Help You or a Loved One" Thurs,Oct 11@1pm-https://t.co/YUWi19WY
© 2020 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement