Author: East Texas Review

Energy efficiency can help rural families save money

By Lu Nelsen Families below the poverty line spend 8 percent of their income on electricity, a much larger proportion than higher income families, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.  And in rural areas, 17.7 percent of families live below the poverty line, as noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Energy efficiency provides an affordable way to decrease power consumption and electric bills. Developing local renewable energy generation also keeps hard-earned dollars in the state and brings new economic development to rural communities.  Policymakers should seize these opportunities by implementing measures that assist businesses...

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New Toolkit Empowers Texans to Defend Property Confiscated by Law Enforcement Key questions about asset forfeiture answered

Texans who have had money or property taken by law enforcement now have a new tool to help them get their belongings back.   Texas Appleseed, a public interest justice center, recently launched a new online toolkit, Defending Against a Civil Asset Forfeiture Case. The toolkit features answers to top leading questions about asset forfeiture; illustrative videos in English and subtitled in Spanish; sample pleadings and forms that Texans can customize; and a checklist for appearing in court, among other information. It is available at www.EndForfeitureAbuseTx.org.   “Civil asset forfeiture creates an environment where you have individuals who have not been charged with a crime – and who may never be found guilty of any crime – losing cash and property to law enforcement,” said Gabriella McDonald, an attorney with Texas Appleseed and director of Pro Bono and New Projects. “We know the original intent of the law was to deter criminal activity, but the law remains ripe for abuse, and innocent property owners pay the price.”   According to the Institute for Justice, Texas agencies reported nearly $541 million in forfeiture funds between 2001 and 2013, a fiscal-year average of nearly $41.6 million.   Dykema, a leading national law firm, created the foundation for the toolkit and led research efforts. “People in civil asset forfeiture cases do not have the right to court-appointed counsel, so this toolkit is...

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Options for Getting out of Debt

By Mechele Agbayani Mills, It isn’t difficult to fall into debt, but getting out of debt may seem an insurmountable task. If you have a big pile of credit card bills, you may also have a big pile of credit repair or debt relief offers. Those promises of reduced debt, low-interest loans, and magical fixes for your credit score can be tempting, but you need to be very careful to make sure nobody is taking advantage of you. BBB provides the following information to help make your journey smoother. There is no one-size-fits-all resolution. It’s important to find the...

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Texas Economy adds 6700 Jobs in February

The Texas economy expanded in February with the addition of 6,700 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent in February, up slightly from 4.8 percent in January. “Texas employers added 222,400 jobs over the year in the diverse Texas economy,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Andres Alcantar. “TWC will continue to focus on the workforce needs of these growing industries and build partnerships that develop a world-class workforce for Texas employers.” The Education and Health Services industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month with 11,700 jobs added. Leisure and Hospitality employment grew by 4,400 jobs in February and Manufacturing employment expanded by 3,900 jobs. “Texas employers continue to keep our state’s economy strong with private-sector employment expanding over the year with an overall job-growth of 189,200, including 12,300 jobs added in February,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “TWC is committed to offering programs that allow employers to provide customized training to meet the skills needed for today’s competitive job market.” The Amarillo Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3.6 percent, followed by the Lubbock and Austin-Round Rock MSAs with a rate of 3.7 percent and the College Station-Bryan MSA with a rate of 3.8 for February. “Texas’ labor force is the backbone of...

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