Past time for action
For a long time political leaders in Southeast Texas were content to reap the many benefits from our petrochemical plants but do little about the downsides that affect the health and safety of people who live here. State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, has broken out of that mindset, and it’s about time.
Phelan has called for the Legislature to do a lot more in next year’s session to protect plant workers and residents from industrial disasters and dangerous pollutants. After countless reports of excessive pollution and the TPC explosion in November (along with last month’s blast in Houston at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing plant), this isn’t a difficult position to take. The need for more action should be obvious, and that includes more Republicans who have traditionally been reluctant to support stronger business regulations.
No one wants to hamper free enterprise, but company profits and worker’s paychecks can’t come at the expense of anyone’s health and safety. Most of the petrochemical plants in this region are profitable, and they can afford the basic precautions in operations and equipment to minimize any danger. Many of them do that, but some need a nudge in the right direction. ...
Phelan cited more funding for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and that’s an excellent idea. Cities and counties in the region don’t have the expertise or staff to take on this complex challenge. But TCEQ does, and it could its job better with more resources — and tougher penalties for violations.
Lawmakers also should require certain levels of insurance for industrial facilities to offset any costs to local communities for explosions or leaks. ...
The Texas House and Senate must not ignore the dangerous trend line. Texans deserve to see a sharp reduction in these incidents ..., and legislative action can help make that happen.
Get it done, NCAA
The NCAA, under siege from states looking to enact athlete-friendly legislation, has turned to the federal government for help, seeking protection of its multibillion dollar college sports enterprise through federally mandated statutes.
The hope is a consistent standard, but the issues forcing the NCAA’s hand have long been within their purview and could have been addressed in a proactive manner rather than what is perceived to be a plan aimed at preservation of the status quo.
The organization’s president, Mark Emmert, appeared before a Senate committee saying federal action is required to “maintain uniform standards in college sports.” The fear is athlete endorsement deals would negatively impact recruiting, giving states with player-friendly laws an unfair advantage.
“If implemented, these laws would give some schools an unfair recruiting advantage and open the door to sponsorship arrangements being used as a recruiting inducement,” Emmert said. “This would create a huge imbalance among schools and could lead to corruption in the recruiting process.”
The proposed laws likely would fundamentally change college athletics, giving players the freedom to earn money from their personal brand. A law along these lines is scheduled to come on line in California in 2023 while more than 25 states are considering similar legislation with some proposals set to take place this year. ...
It is hardly a secret the recruiting process is already unlevel at best with teams in the top football conferences continually drawing the overwhelming majority of top players. ...
The NCAA has been inactive in an issue in which it should have been leading the way. The effort of 18- to 23-year-old athletes is the labor upon which billions of dollars are made. It has well-documented transparency and credibility challenges.
Instead of consistently telling athletes what they could not do, the organization should have been at work looking for ways to expand players’ rights prior to having to react to threats of litigation.
The organization has a final chance to get in front of this matter in April when new rules become public. If the desire is to provide a uniform approach to allowing athletes to make money from their personal brand, it is in the best position and has access to the best ideas to do so while including regulatory safeguards. ...