AUSTIN — President Barack Obama on June 15 announced his decision to amend U.S. immigration policy so that certain younger, undocumented residents will not be processed for deportation The decision, the president said, should be interpreted as temporary relief from deportation for a specific set of individuals who apply for a work permit and whose presence in the U.S. is not considered a risk to homeland security.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Gov. Rick Perry quickly condemned the president’s action. Perry called it an “election-year tactic to bypass Congress and arbitrarily grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants” and Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called it “a breach of faith with the American people” and “a magnet for fraud.” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa sent a memo praising the president for "(changing) the future for hundreds of thousands of Texans who were caught in legal limbo."
A June 15 memorandum from U.S. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano to federal authorities says an undocumented resident must meet these criteria to qualify for prosecutorial discretion:
- Have come to the U.S. under the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the date of the memorandum and is present in the U.S.;
- Is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and
- Is not above the age of 30.
Panel to focus on tax fixes
State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said his panel “is focused on tackling inequities in the state’s margins tax that have hurt small businesses and have resulted in similar companies paying different tax rates.”
While speaking at a June 9 interim hearing, Hilderbran added, “The margins tax was flawed from the outset and we heard a lot of testimony confirming this. There is much more than just anecdotal evidence of flaws with this tax. There are widespread problems, such as similar businesses being taxed at different rates.”
The committee plans to address “how a business is defined, when to allow the most common deduction (cost of goods sold), and how to handle passed-through revenue. “Currently,” Hilderbran explained, “some businesses are taxed on 100 percent of incoming revenue, even if some of that revenue belongs — and is passed through — to independent contractors.”
In 2009 the Legislature exempted businesses with gross revenues of $1 million or less from paying the margins tax and the exemption was extended by lawmakers in 2011. Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, said that in 2013 Ways & Means will “look at making a better, permanent exemption that helps even more small businesses.”
Lizard won’t be ‘listed’
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently withdrew from a proposed rule that would have listed the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as a threatened or endangered species. Most of the lizard’s habitat is in oil-rich expanses of West Texas and New Mexico.
Texas’ top energy official, Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, on June 13 applauded what he termed “the diverse coalition of stakeholders, including the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, who worked together to prevent” the listing of the lizard.
Joining Smitherman in claiming victory after U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s action were Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, state Comptroller Susan Combs and other government officials. State Rep. Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa, said, “I look forward to Congress revisiting the Endangered Species Act to ensure that any future considerations for listing species are based firmly on strong scientific evidence before any action is taken. I also call on Congress to require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to consider the economic impact on the people of the areas affected when making these listing decisions.”
Jobless rate stays same
Texas Workforce Commission reported on June 15 that in May the state economy added jobs for the 22nd consecutive month as employers added 12,500 nonfarm jobs.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Texas remained at 6.9 percent in May, down from 8.1 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent in May.