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Posts published in “Columnists – Capitol Comment”

READER SURVEY: Listening Post by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Today marks the start of Senator Hutchison’s annual Listening Post survey of our readers. The first of three survey columns, this Capitol Comment is about domestic priorities. Respondents can answer using the email or postal mail information below.

In Washington I’m always speaking out on behalf of the Lone Star State – whether it’s delivering a speech on the Senate floor, asking questions at a committee hearing, or casting a roll call vote on legislation.

Now it’s the time for you to speak out. Every August I distribute an annual “Listening Post” to ask Texans about a variety of issues facing our nation. In this first of three surveys, I focus on key domestic agenda items. In the following weeks, surveys will concentrate on international affairs and homeland security. Last year I was overwhelmed by the response, and I hope to hear from even more of you this year. To submit your answers, use the contact information listed at the end of this column.

Later this year, I will distribute the results of the survey in Capitol Comment columns. I appreciate your participation and look forward to your views.

Survey Part I – Domestic Agenda

1. Unfortunately Congress has yet to adopt a comprehensive national energy policy. However, I am still hopeful we can pass one this year.

In your opinion, what should be our top energy priorities? (Choose all that apply.)

____ Allow for more domestic oil and gas exploration to reduce our dependence on the Middle East and other foreign countries
____ Lower gasoline consumption by raising mandatory standards for fuel efficiency in cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs)
____ Provide tax incentives for renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power Additional comments:

2. Congress is attempting to reconcile the House and Senate passed versions of the six-year transportation reauthorization legislation. Texas always has been the single largest “donor state,” sending more than five billion dollars in gasoline taxes to build roads in other states since 1956. Which of the following do you think Congress should do to better meet Texas transportation needs? (Choose all that apply.)

___ Ensure Texas a higher rate of return on gasoline taxes sent to Washington for highway construction. Currently our state receives 90.5 cents on every dollar in taxes paid, with the rest going to pay for roads in other states
___ Raise gasoline taxes, which currently stand at 18.5 cents per gallon
___ Increase federal funding for light-rail and other mass transit options
___ Encourage alternative financing, such as new highway tolls
Additional comments:

3. At the end of this year, key provisions of the tax relief enacted in 2003 will expire and, in 2011, all tax cuts enacted in recent years will disappear unless Congress acts. Which of the following would you like to see Congress pass this year to prevent a tax increase? (Choose all that apply.)

___ Extend marriage penalty relief into next year (double standard deduction and 10% bracket for married couples)
___ Maintain lower marginal rates for all brackets next year
___ Ensure increased child tax credit remains in effect next year
___ Eliminate the death tax
Additional comments:

4. Over the past 18 months, a minority group of Senators have obstructed action on several common sense liability reform bills. Which of the following proposals would you like to see Congress approve? (Choose all that apply.)

___ In medical liability cases limit attorneys’ fees, limit non-economic damages to $250,000, and cap punitive damages at twice the economic damages (or $250,000, whichever is greater) to alleviate skyrocketing insurance premiums that are forcing doctors to avoid fields such as Obstetrics-Gynecology (OB -GYN) or close practices altogether.
___ Prohibit lawsuits against firearms manufacturers or dealers for a user’s unlawful use of weapons or ammunition.
___ Establish an industry-financed Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund to compensate asbestos victims on a no-fault basis to ensure the truly sick receive adequate compensation, and bring a close to asbestos related lawsuits that cause bankruptcies and loss of jobs.
Additional comments:

Please visit my website and submit your answers online at

Or send via email at:

Or submit via mail to:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
961 Federal Building
300 East Eighth Street
Austin, TX 78701

Hometown Heroes… by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

“The most important thing [in the Olympic Games] is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – The Olympic Creed

Number Six

We’ve all been inspired by Texas’ athletic stars, hometown heroes to many of us. But there is one star who seems to shine brighter with each summer victory. Lance Armstrong has done it again. He’s accomplished what no other cyclist has done before, winning his sixth straight Tour de France.

The Austin native held up six fingers as he raced to the finish line in Paris, pedaling his way out of Montereau and into history as one of the greatest athletes ever.

Cyclists from all over the world compete along 2,050 miles of road ranging from flat wheat fields to the steep Alps, making the Tour de France known not only for its beautiful terrain, but also as one of the most grueling sporting events of the modern era. Lance Armstrong has been an inspiration through his cycling accomplishments. Yet the headlines and glory fall a distant second behind his victory over cancer.

In October of 1996, while seemingly at the top of his game, the two-time Olympian was stricken with pain and forced off his bike. Armstrong was given less than a 50-50 chance to live after testicular cancer spread to his lungs and brain. As if scripted by Hollywood, the promising athlete fought and persevered to defeat the disease – and then employed that same tenacity to get back on the bike and back on top.

Today, our Texas hometown hero uses his triumphs to serve as a symbol of hope, inspiration and survivorship. He established the non-profit Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which has become one of the nation’s preeminent cancer research organizations. This year, the LAF sold yellow bracelets with the words “Live Strong” with a goal of raising $5 million for cancer patients and their families. So far, LAF has sold seven million bracelets, bringing a total of $7 million to the cause already and more on back order.

A Look at Athens

The competitive side of Texas will continue to shine this summer as the country and the world heads to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Every four years, the world comes together as one in celebration of the globe’s most prestigious athletic event. All too often our nations are unified only through tragedy, but, for the past 108 years, the Olympic Games have brought us together for friendly competition.
In the first modern Olympic Games, approximately 300 athletes from 13 countries competed in only nine sports. This month, nearly 10,500 athletes from 202 countries will partake in 37 different events.

So who will be next in joining Lance Armstrong and Michael Johnson in Texas Olympic history? Texas is the home state of 29 athletes on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. We are proud to field more athletes than any other state, except California. Fellow Texans will be cheering on their hometown heroes, including returning Olympians Mia Hamm, Sheryl Swoopes, Laura Wilkinson, Amy Acuff, Glenn Fuller, Connie Schiller Smotek, and Stacy Sykora. Texans are accustomed to being among the biggest and the best, but this competition is world class. Each one of these Lone Stars will be doing their utmost, competing for the gold and fighting to be among the great Texas Olympians.

I congratulate our Texas hometown heroes, Lance Armstrong and our Olympic athletes, in all they have achieved and have yet to accomplish. They make us proud.

To learn more on the Lance Armstrong Foundation visit and, to order a Live Strong bracelet. Keep up to date on the US Olympic team and Olympic events at and

July 4 – More than a BBQ… by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

This Fourth of July weekend, thousands of Texans will gather with family and friends, fire up the grill, ice down some drinks and sit back and enjoy one of our nation’s favorite holidays, Independence Day. In 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, there were 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies. Today, there are more than 293 million Americans inhabiting 50 states, who will celebrate the founding of our great nation. And the Declaration that secured our independence still stands as the foundation of our democracy.

This quintessentially American celebration gives each of us an opportunity to commemorate the birth of our country and reflect on the day when dedicated patriots founded a nation based on freedom. Marquis De Lafayette, the Frenchman who was so moved by the American quest for independence, he crossed the Atlantic to join our battle said it this way, “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

For 228 years now, America has been synonymous with liberty. It is rooted in our heart and soul. It is woven into the fabric of our being. As a current television advertisement states, “‘Don’t fence us in’, is practically our national motto.” We are the embodiment of freedom to people everywhere, which is why thousands of people still arrive from the far reaches of the globe on our shores each year. They come in search of a better life for their families and a greater hope for their future.
So, the Fourth of July is more than a birthday party – it is a celebration of our hard-fought freedom and our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is also a time to honor those who continue the battle against terror and oppression to keep our freedom secure.

Today we are engaged in a struggle as fierce and as vital as any our nation has faced in its short history. Today’s war on terrorism is a fight for freedom.

American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq face the modern threat of terrorism. But while the tactics are more violent, the motives more insidious and the means more destructive, this enemy shares the common goal of all enemies throughout history: destroying freedom. We must not – and we will not – let them win.

Last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld addressed our troops on the Fourth of July, saying, “You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans. Day after day, week after week, they have seen your faces and read your stories. They have shared your sorrows and celebrated your victories. And in each one of you they see reflected their deeply-felt honor, pride and patriotism. Through your valor and sacrifice, our Republic has been strengthened and renewed.”

I could not agree more. Our troops, many of whom call Texas home, face a difficult and challenging task, yet they do it with bravery and with honor. I have visited them in the battlefields and I have seen their commitment firsthand. They know the gravity of their mission and the importance of their success. These proud patriots serve with distinction and deserve our gratitude.

This year, remember that it’s more than a backyard BBQ, red-white-and-blue streamers, downtown parade or fireworks display – the Fourth of July is a celebration of the freedoms afforded to us as citizens of the United States of America. This year, as you set out to enjoy your holiday take a moment to remember those who are sacrificing their personal safety, and even their lives, so that you may enjoy yours.

God Bless America and Happy Fourth of July.