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LARRY PHILLIPS: Ways and Means to examine taxing issues in Texas

This week is the last in the series detailing the interim charges issued to House Committees. Interim charges are the issues that the Speaker asks committees to study during the time between regular legislative sessions in order to make recommendations for legislation for the following legislative session. The charges are good indicators of what legislation the legislature will take up during the next session. Legislators rely on public input when crafting legislation, and it is important that they hear from people during the interim.

Spend to thin air

Near-field communication is nothing new. The technology, through which two electronic devices in close proximity can communicate with each other wirelessly, was first included in a mobile phone all the way back in 2006, in fact.

There’s a better way to do immigration reform

Immigration is the definitive wedge issue in American politics, but it doesn’t have to be. When the Senate’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act failed to pass the House this year, it was the third such failure of comprehensive reform in a decade. Here’s a good rule: Three strikes, you’re out. It’s time for a different approach. Congress should forget comprehensive reform and try for pragmatic and incremental change instead.

TOD ROBBERSON: When schools give Ebola fear higher priority than geography and common sense, we’re in trouble

I’m worried about the kind of geography lessons apparently being taught in American schools. One of the strongest lessons any student can receive is the lesson taught by example. And school districts are teaching students that, “out of an abundance of caution,” they must allow hysteria to reign over common sense and simple geography. The lesson for students is: freak out first, look at a map later.

Contests and Promotions

CAL THOMAS: Houston pastors fight censorship challenge

Houston recently passed an ordinance through its city council that has sparked quite a bit of controversy amongst conservative evangelicals. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a broad-sweeping, left-leaning law trumpeted by the City of Houston and its openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, is supposed to protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination. All well and good, but according to the Independent Journal Review, the ordinance to ensure nondiscrimination, discriminates against those of faith who oppose it.

How to restart health care reform

Midterm elections are coming, and both parties are lobbing grenades over health care. Despite the furious rhetoric, the two sides are more alike than they realize. Both spent decades pursuing policies that obstruct health care’s capacity to save lives, ease suffering and cut costs. The endless vitriol resembles World War I-style trench warfare. The Affordable Care Act moved the battle lines a little in one direction; the midterms that year moved them a little in the opposite direction. With divided government, the 2014 elections will move the lines even less.

KEN HERMAN: Is Wendy Davis’ TV ad out of bounds?

Let’s say a military vet was running for governor of Texas. And let’s say this candidate had benefited from programs aimed at helping veterans. Perhaps she went to college with the help of the GI Bill. And maybe she bought a home with the help of mortgage programs that help vets.

DONALD GRAHAM: Ben Bradlee inspired colleagues

WASHINGTON — In the next few days you will hear real sadness from hundreds of people who work or used to work at The Washington Post. I would like to tell you why we all loved Ben Bradlee so much — loved working for him, loved working with him — and why we felt he could make anything possible.

Horror can be comedy

While Halloween is less than two weeks away, up until this weekend it really didn’t feel like the season for ghouls and goblins. In an attempt to remedy this, I ended up watching a horror movie marathon on AMC throughout the weekend.

Jack of all lanterns

I’ve already got my eyes peeled for the perfect pumpkin. Every time I go to a grocery store, I’m on high alert. I haven’t taken any action yet — it is, after all, a little early in the month — but I’m ready if the opportunity presents itself. I will find some great ones, and I will carve them. And boy, I tell you, it will be spooky.