Author: luis

Going Solar Just Got Easier in Texas

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texas-solar-panelThere are so many different things that people try to do in order to save money and energy. It’s great for the environment to do many of these things as well. Solar power is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways for people to do this. As the technology goes down in price and more individuals get involved in the process, more people are climbing on roofs and developing technologies that are going to make it easier for them to get that solar power that they desire to have themselves. But, not everyone is happy with these changes – and it’s now becoming an issue that courts have to explore.

In Texas, there were a number of problems in neighborhoods that were still considered to be “developing” and those who wanted to install solar panels. The issue was that, these things can be incredibly unsightly if you aren’t careful with them. Even if you do put the time and the effort into trying to make the whole thing less noticeable, you will find that they are still quite large and hard to really get under control when it comes to appearance. On top of that, you will also see that there are communities that really don’t like the way that they look. Some communities have a number of rules that have to be met, and some of them have done “cease and desist” orders in order to try and stop people from putting up their solar setups.

Now, there has been a law passed that makes it a lot easier for these individuals to put together their energy- friendly homes. What happened is that a number of individuals decided that they were going to work together and put in a case that stopped organizations from being able to have a say if a neighborhood had been “in development” for more than 10 years, or if they had more than 50 homes in the area that was being developed. That means that those with ulterior motives would not be able to do all of the things that they wanted to do, like the corporation that was discussed here was trying to do. This was a huge win for solar power advocates and those who were exploring this world more carefully as well.

Solar power is definitely the future. That’s why these sorts of laws are incredibly important to explore and to pass. Without them, we would not have the same sorts of rights that we do when it comes to putting up alternate sources of power in a neighborhood. Living off the grid is still looked at a bit strangely, which may be another reason that this whole problem has been debated and explored, but in time, that will become the norm as well. There may need to be other laws that come into play as time goes on in order to protect those persons from those who may want to stop them for whatever reason, and this law in Texas may be the beginning and a good springboard for what those laws should look like in the long run.

So, what do you think about the changes that Texas has put into place? Do you think that it’s a case where the people are right in what they’re doing and how they want to move forward with it? Or should these places still have the right to tell people what they can and cannot do with the homes that they own? It’s definitely an interesting thing to explore, and it’s a worthwhile question as more and more people are asking and exploring.

Ending the Ag-Gag Problem

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One of the biggest animal rights issues that have been going on is how animals that are being bred for food are being treated. Many times, we just see these animals as things that are meant to be used. They’re stuck in small cages, they’re mistreated, they get only the minimal amount of food, and a wide variety of other issues happen in the process as well. It’s a huge problem at many corporate farms, and because of that, there has been a lot of attention on the issue in recent years. The problem is – many of these groups can’t prove what’s been going on.

LivestockMany animal rights activists have been trying to get the word out about what happens at some of these places for a long while. You see the videos on the internet, and people blogging and protesting about all of these different things. But, you see, a problem that many of these organizations have is that they can’t get anything on tape. They see it with their eyes, but the minute a camera comes out, they get escorted out. This means that there isn’t any progress and that there is a lot of difficulty when it comes to trying to take care of everything related to whether or not these animals are being treated fairly.

So, anyhow, a federal court in Idaho decided to stop this issue in its tracks by saying that farms could not prohibit people from having hidden cameras when they go to farms. The thing is, you can’t really see what’s going on if you actually bring a camera that can be seen – that’s why the Idaho law was in place in the first place. Farmers were complaining and many said that it was “hurting the industry.” But the higher court decided that this shouldn’t matter in the big picture of things – and that animals deserve to be treated well. If they aren’t, then there should be video or photographic proof so that something can be done to take care of the issue quickly.

Other states have tried to make these laws work as well, but to no avail. Many times, they get blocked for any number of reasons that you could imagine, and that makes it harder for them to be able to succeed when it comes to trying to stop the animal abuse issue that happens at our farms and other places where animals are. But now, Idaho has struck down the law that prevented cameras from entering farms, so it may be the beginning of something that is going to be great for those who are interested in animal rights as a whole. It will take some effort on their parts, of course, but it may be the beginning of something good for animals and those that support them.

This could, possibly, be a huge blow for those who are looking to continue “doing things the way that we’ve always done them.” Since animals are being abused on a regular basis at some of the larger, corporate run farms, it’s going to help those who want to try and make a difference to be able to do so effectively and want to try and stop these farms in their tracks. Do you think that it’s going to be a help or do you think it’s going to make things more difficult for those who may be trying to succeed with their farms and such? These are important questions to ponder, and even more important to see what may happen with these sorts of cases in the future.

Lying in Campaigns – Protected by the Constitution?

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There are a number of laws out there that work to keep people safe during campaigns, and there are lots of things that help to keep people safe when it comes to their reputation. As you likely know, there is a ton of debate that goes on about what should and should not be allowed during a campaign, and one of those things has to deal with honesty. Should people be allowed to tell lies and such in order to try and make themselves look better for a campaign? Surprisingly, a number of people are starting to say yes, and the courts in Massachusetts happen to agree with these people.

The court case, in short, went like this. There was a suit filed against a political action committee (PAC) that put out fliers with false information about Democratic state lawmaker Brian Mannal during last year’s midterm elections. He won the race anyway, but with the backing of a law that was in place in Massachusetts at that point (protecting campaigners from false information being spread about them), he sued. As the entire case went down the line, the State’s Supreme Court decided, because of the fundamental right of free speech given to us in the First Amendment of the Constitution, that the law itself was unconstitutional. That means that the case was, essentially, thrown out and Mannal still has that lie tarnishing his reputation to this day. It didn’t totally kill his political career, but it definitely had the chance to do so.

This makes some people a little confused, of course. So that means that, if people are lying and such, they’re protected by the Constitution? What would that mean for courtrooms, where people need to speak the truth – could they say they were practicing free speech? It makes that definition incredibly messy and confusing, and it could end up making some laws obsolete if we aren’t careful. There’s no word yet if Mannal is going to appeal and take this up to a higher court to determine exactly where the definition of this should lie. Many people think that he should, if for no other reason than to protect people from being misspoken about.

Imagine if this was used on a national platform. Of course, politicians exaggerate facts and information about each other during campaigns all of the time, but if that is protected by free speech, what happens to libel and slander? Are those, technically, free speech? And therefore, are they protected by the Constitution? Obviously, there’s always the thought of “Just because you have the right to free speech doesn’t mean that you are protected from the consequences of your speech.” But, that still gives us pretty muddy waters that we have to work through. Campaigns are confusing enough at times, and those who are politically savvy do a lot of fact checking to start with, wouldn’t it be that much worse for you to try and figure out who was speaking the truth and who was throwing around information that just had no basis in fact? That would be an incredibly difficult thing to do.

What do you think about this whole thing? Do you think that lying in campaign ads and mudslinging should be allowed because of free speech? Or do you think that the Supreme Court in Massachusetts stretched things a bit when it came to what that exact thing covers? It’s quite a unique issue to explore, and hopefully we will see what others think about it in months to come. What are your thoughts about this ordeal?

Laws Protecting the Elderly

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One of the biggest problems that we have in our society is how we treat older adults. There are a number of them in nursing homes, and some of those homes do not give them the best care that they could have. Sadly, in some cases, there are older adults who are being cared for by family members, only to find out later on that they are being swindled or other issues may be going on in their lives as well. On top of that, businesses and organizations like to prey upon older adults as well, and some of them end up losing a lot of their life’s savings because of it.

Why do people do this to their loved ones? Why do they take advantage and hurt them? And why do businesses go after them too? Mainly, because they believe that they can get away with it. Many elders who are dealing with elder abuse won’t tell anyone that they’re going against something terrible, and sometimes, they don’t even realize exactly what is going on with the whole situation. In short, the experience is stressful, scary, and hard to work through, and because of that, people try to take advantage because they think that elders will keep their mouths closed about it. When the information does get out, it’s too late or a lot of damage has been done that has to be worked through.

Perrys LawIllinois decided that it was time for something to happen so that the elderly could be protected. They passed a law that was called Perry’s Law, which was named after an elderly gentleman with dementia who had lost everything because his guardian, one of his grandsons, had wiped out his accounts and sold his homes. The only reason anyone noticed what was going on is because his nephew saw that the money was gone and he stepped in to try and stop the fraud from getting worse. The law was named after Perry because it took forever to try and get everything straightened out. Perry eventually got a lot back, but not until a legal fight went on. Now, with this law in place, it will be harder for other people to try to pull the same thing on older adults.

There are other states that have passed similar laws to try to deal with the issue as well. Some of them deal with elder abuse, others deal with finances, and others deal with housing. There are so many facets to the whole thing, however, that it’s hard to try and ensure that any and all loopholes have been sealed tightly so that you don’t have people trying to get around them. There have been a number of people who campaign on the national front about the issue as well, but like many things at the national level, the process of getting these laws into place has been slow and arduous, and hopefully we can get to a point where we get something in place that helps to protect the older adults who are in our midst.

What other actions could be taken in order to prevent these sorts of problems from happening? How can we protect older adults from those who are supposed to be taking care of them, but are instead abusing their power and hurting those who they claimed to love at one point in their lives? This is a fine balance, but the conversation needs to be explored and the answers need to be found so that our older adults can live out their last years safely and comfortably.

Texas Voter ID Law Against Voting Rights Act

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One of the biggest issues that a number of states have been dealing with in recent years is that there are a lot of problems with voter ID laws. As time has gone on, more and more states have, at the very least, tried to pass laws that require people to show ID when they come into a polling place and try to vote, no matter what election that they may be trying to vote in. This makes it take much longer when it comes to voting, and there are other problems that come with it as well.

Texas Voter ID LawWhy are states so desperate to try and get voter ID laws passed? One of the main reasons is because many people believe that there is a big problem with voting fraud in the United States, and that many people are trying to vote multiple times in order to try and get their person into office. Of course, this isn’t actually the case – voter fraud is actually incredibly uncommon, and because of that, many of these voter ID laws are kind of moot. Another point that some people try to make is that it allows illegal immigrants to be able to vote – since they can’t get IDs, then they can’t vote, either.

Of course, there are many people who also believe that there is a partisan reason why all this is going on as well. According to many, it’s a form of Gerrymandering (splitting districts so that some go all blue and others go all red and they aren’t contested) that basically blocks those with lower incomes from being able to vote. Some people don’t have a license for driving, and they don’t have the ability to go and get an ID because of cost and/or other barriers to entry. Because a majority of those people are on one side or the other, the belief is that the other side is trying to prevent these people from being able to vote, thus giving their party the upper hand. It’s incredibly complicated, and even though it can’t be proven that this is why these laws are going into effect, it is a possibility.

So, why did the federal appeals court decide that the Texas Voter ID law was illegal? For the reason that you would expect – that it restricts access to voting. Voting is a basic American right, and we all have the ability to do it unless we have been convicted of a felony. Voting is what makes our representative democracy what it is – we have to vote for those who are going to make the laws. If not everyone is able to vote, then it goes against the principals that this government was built on, and that makes everything an even bigger mess. Above everything else, that is why the federal appeals court decided that they were going to block this law from being able to be enforced – with it, thousands would be barred from having a voice in the government, and that is unconstitutional in and of itself.

What do you believe about this? Do you think that these voter ID laws are against the Voting Rights Act that was passed just over 50 years ago? Or do you think that the fears that these states have are warranted and should be treated with a bit more care? Is there another solution that we may be ignoring to the whole problem? It’s definitely an interesting thing to ponder, and it will also be interesting to see what happens with it in the future.