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BP oil spill still taking its toll; dueling Adolescent Hospital bills filed

As the summer of 2013 threatens to bring an intensifying drought, Texas legislators are looking for ways to conserve water. One such proposal, HB 379, set to be debated in the House Energy Resources Committee on Wednesday, would impose a 1-cent-per-barrel fee on oil and gas wastewater disposed of in wells. Injection of wastewater underground is drawing scrutiny as lawmakers consider water recycling and other options that could reduce the amount of fresh water used in hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, and other oil and gas extraction processes.

(On a side note, I recently learned guar gum is used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and prices for guar gum have skyrocketed since 2010, adding to drilling costs.)

Jindal’s most immediate task is resurrecting his tax swap, which would abolish $3.6 billion in income and corporate taxes and replace them with higher sales taxes and a tripling of the cigarette tax. In Lake Charles on Monday, he repeated his belief that the plan would create jobs and promote investment. Only 27 percent of voters polled by Southern Media agreed with that prognosis, while 63 percent opposed the plan.

The governor needs to get education reform back on track. Lower courts have tossed new laws he backed last year to tighten teacher evaluation and tenure rules, give local school superintendents more autonomy and expand funding for his fledgling (and controversial) statewide voucher program. Lower courts declared all three initiatives unconstitutional on technical grounds. All are now pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court, where their fate is uncertain. The governor and lawmakers should revisit those issues this year and fix the technical glitches. On the matter of vouchers, they also should tighten the accountability provisions.

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About Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and the Federal Flood he helped create the Rising Tide conference, which grew into an annual social media event dedicated to the future of New Orleans.