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Welcome to my community-building diary series, Houston, Texas News You Can Use. As always, opinions are my own. Links, re-posts, comments etc., not necessarily endorsements. I'm an out loud and proud liberal, card-carrying LGBT community member, nonprofit professional, and DKos Trusted User. I appreciate any/all feedback.

Today I want to start with an update on the Oklahoma tornados: The following organizations are accepting donations for relief efforts in Moore, Oklahoma:

The weather that brought devastating tornados to Oklahoma Monday sags south into Texas today. Houston is likely to get rain and storms late tonight, according to Eric Berger: SciGuy on his new weather blog.


No resurrection in sight for payday lending law
A last-ditch effort to resurrect the payday lending legislation fell apart Monday evening as the Texas Senate Democratic caucus blocked an effort by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, to add the bill as an amendment to another bill. A frustrated Carona said he had agreed to all changes requested by Senate Democrats, but couldn’t round up the necessary votes in favor of the amendment, which was very similar to a bill he passed out of the Senate last month.

Texas lawmakers restore $4B in education cuts
Texas House and Senate budget leaders have reached an agreement to restore about $4 billion of the $5.4 billion in cuts made to public education last session. The budget proposal also includes $2 billion in water funding — as Gov. Rick Perry has demanded of lawmakers — but, currently, it offers only about $1 billion in tax relief. The governor has called for $1.8 billion in tax cuts as well as funding for transportation without increasing fees. He threatened a special session if legislators don't send him a budget to his liking.

Reforms not helping military victims of sex abuse
The law allows victims who feel threatened after filing an open report of sexual assault to apply for an expedited transfer "so as to reduce the possibility of retaliation against the member for reporting." The policy requires that commanding officers review the requests within 72 hours. Victims can appeal a denial with the first general officer in the command chain. The statute does not stipulate how quickly relocations must occur. And the Defense Department does not track how long service members wait to move.

Poverty hits the suburbs
Poverty isn’t a problem just in the big city. The numbers in the burbs are going up. As a matter of fact, they’ve doubled between 2000 and 2011, and suburbanites are feeling the pinch. Lack of assistance the in the suburbs in general, and programs that target poverty clusters rather than scattered areas. The good news, Houston has it better than many other big cities because of the generally low cost of living, as well as help for the poor communities, in the form of Neighborhood Centers Inc.

Editorial: Show love with fair wages
Americans spent an estimated $20.7 billion on flowers, chocolates, meals and other gifts this last Mother's Day to show their moms how much they love them, according to the National Retail Federation. With all the advances women have made in the last century or so, on the average they still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men earn, which also translates into lesser retirement and Social Security benefits. The Center for American Progress reports that over a 35-year working life, a woman on the average will earn $430,000 less than her male counterpart.

Young Houston couple giving away $4 billion to big ideas
When it comes to giving, a Houston couple is exploring new territory in their goal of using philanthropy to change the world - one project at a time. Billionaire John Arnold and his wife, Laura, are bankrolling some lofty projects through the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now, he and wife, Laura, are focusing their energies on giving the money away to organizations and projects that will help transform the world. Last year alone, the couple gave away or pledged $423 million for various projects that include a $26 million obesity study.

Power Grid Poised to Be Put to the Test Again
It's shaping up to be another difficult summer for the Texas power grid. A national nonprofit has projected that the Texas grid will have the lowest percentage of power reserves this summer of any region of the country. Next summer could also be tougher than the grid operator currently projects.

Consumers Reluctant to Boost Spending, Despite Falling Gas Prices
U.S. gasoline prices have fallen roughly thirty cents a gallon since February. But few consumers are pumping their savings back into the economy. Eighty percent of Americans have held off increasing their discretionary spending in the first half of this year, despite falling gasoline prices. That’s according to a study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

Cameron to shutter Montgomery County plant, cut 88 jobs
Cameron International Corp. is permanently closing a manufacturing facility in Montgomery County and will begin terminating the facility’s employees around July 15. The Houston-based oil and gas equipment, systems and services provider said in Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act paperwork filed with the Texas government that about 88 employees will be affected by the closure of the facility in Magnolia, west of the Woodlands.

No shortage of competition for bank branches in Houston
In the midst of planning a new Houston headquarters and adding branches in the city, Frost Bank NA is consolidating some banking functions at its 9300 Kirby Drive location, a local bank president told me Monday. The San Antonio bank isn’t eliminating any jobs or locations — it’s just trying to be more efficient in Houston. And in the world of branch banking, there’s no shortage of competition for office space in Houston right now, said David LePori, Frost's Houston regional president.

Memorial Hermann helping increase number of APRNs
Less than a year after being selected to participate in an innovative $200 million CMS Demonstration designed to boost the number of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in the Texas Gulf Coast region and across the nation, Memorial Hermann is moving toward its goal of training and graduating additional APRNs prepared to serve an increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries. To date, enrollment has increased by 233 percent at the schools of nursing – Prairie View A&M University, Texas Woman’s University, UTHealth at Houston and University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Moreover, nearly 50 community and hospital-based partnerships with multiple preceptor sites have been secured in nine counties in the Gulf Region to provide students with on-site clinical training.

Should Your Nonprofit Build an Endowment?
Most nonprofits dream, at some point, about that endowment that would ensure their stability from year to year. But endowments aren’t for every nonprofit. This article walks the reader through their up and downsides.

American Lung Cuts One-Third Of Staff
The American Lung Association (ALA) has eliminated 24 positions from its national staff of 71. The cuts come in an effort to shore up a $4 million operating deficit from the Washington, D.C.-based organization’s $55 million 2013 budget. Positions have been eliminated in the ALA’s Washington, D.C., and New York City offices.

ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax holiday information for Memorial Day weekend: May 25 - 27, 2013
For information on how to report tax on these sales, please visit Reporting Sales Tax on Tax-Free Items or call us toll free at (800) 252-5555. During Memorial Day weekend, Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales and use taxes on purchases of certain energy efficient products.

Originally posted to fab 3 on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Houston Area Kossacks and TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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