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Federal Court Once Again Finds Texas Voting Laws Are Discriminatory: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: Texas oil and gas bounces back, Warren Buffett gets what Warren Buffett wants during a visit to the Capitol, and another battle takes shape at the Alamo.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“He was standing next to me the other night, he wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t breathing. So I’m going to check the rulebook and find out if robots are allowed to play in the NBA, because somehow Pop and them have figured it out. They know something I don’t know. I think he bleeds like antifreeze or something. This guy, he is special, man.”

—Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale to reporters before Thursday’s NBA playoff game against Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, according the San Antonio Express-News. Leonard’s dominance on the basketball court seems to have convinced Fizdale that he is some sort of lab-made basketball Terminator. Of course, Leonard is definitely a very real human person, with human flaws just like the rest of us. We think. 


BIG NEWS


       

Ron Jenkins/Getty

Third Time’s a Charm
Thursday marked the third time in the past month that courts have found that Texas’s voter laws discriminate against minorities. In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled that the Legislature intentionally weakened minority votes when it redrew Texas House district maps in 2011, violating both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, according to the Dallas Morning News. “The evidence of the mapdrawing process supports the conclusion that mapdrawers were motivated in part by an intent to dilute minority voting strength,” U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in the 171-page ruling, according to the Morning News. “Discussions among mapdrawers demonstrated a hostility to creating any new minority districts as those were seen to be a loss of Republican seats, despite the massive minority population growth statewide.” There’s no timeline for when Texas will have to fix its district maps, but there’s a status conference set for next week to discuss the ruling, potential fixes Texas will need to make, and whether the case still needs to go to trial. For those of you keeping score at home, Texas is on quite the losing streak in its long legal battle over its voting laws. Three congressional districts were invalidated by the same court last month after it found the state’s congressional maps were drawn with the intent to discriminate against minority voters, and last week a federal judge found the state’s Voter ID law was created with that same motivation. At this point, it seems likely Texas will suffer the ultimate defeat here and eventually be required once again to receive clearance before making any changes to its voting laws.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Call It A Comeback
Oil and gas in Texas seems to be rebounding from its worst downturn in decades, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Texas Petro Index released Thursday shows Texas’s rig count is up 80 percent over the first quarter last year, drilling permits have doubled, and statewide oil and gas employment has jumped. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, energy companies have added jobs in Texas for five straight months, while the oil and gas-linked manufacturing industry added a record number of jobs in February. Overall, 2017 is looking like it’ll be a pretty darn good year for oil and gas in Texas. Although recent years have shown slight improvements since the devastating downturn, it seems this year marks the moment the industry officially gets back on track. “We still have a long way to go,” energy economist Karr Ingham, creator of the Petro Index, told the Chronicle. “But 2017 is going to be a year of recovery and expansion in the Texas statewide oil and gas exploration and production economy.”

All You Can Eat Buffett
Warren Buffett is a really, really rich dude, and as a really, really rich dude he can apparently do things like meet with Texas’s top state lawmakers and, within 24 hours, have a custom-tailored bill bearing his name pushed through the Lege. Ah, the perks of being a billionaire. According to the Texas Tribune, Buffett met with Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Monday, and on Tuesday, the state Senate used emergency powers to introduce Senate Bill 2279, also known as the “Buffett Bill,” which grants an exemption for Buffett from strict Texas regulations that prevent vehicle manufacturers from also owning dealerships, thus allowing him to sell his RVs in Texas. The bill was set for a public hearing before a Senate committee on Wednesday, and on Thursday, as the Tribune writes, “it shot out of the panel like a lightning bolt toward the Senate floor.” Meanwhile, foster kids are still sleeping in Child Protective Services offices.

Alamo Stand-Off
Just like when Davy Crockett and Co. went down swinging at the Alamo about two hundred years ago, the famed battle site is once again the subject of a contentious power struggle. Okay, so it’s not exactly the same as a fierce gun battle, maybe more of a political tug-of-war, but the recently revealed plans to makeover the Alamo have caused a bit of a ruckus in San Antonio. According to the San Antonio Express-News, not everyone is on board with the remodel plan. Two public meetings have been held so far to discuss the plan, and the second meeting on Tuesday ran twice as long as planned after 56 people showed up to address design team members, city officials, and representatives from the Texas General Land Office and of the nonprofit Alamo Endowment. There are a lot people killed at the Alamo—Mexican soldiers, pro-independence Tejanos, American and European settlers and adventurers—so going it’s tough to please everyone. It’s a delicate balance to preserve the historic significance of the Alamo while also bringing the site up to modern museum standards. A third public meeting is set for May 2.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to El Paso and basically called the border a war zone El Paso Times

Chili, breakfast tacos, marijuana, and George Soros: day two of Alex Jones’s testimony Austin American-Statesman

Bernie Sanders brought his “revolution” to North Texas on Thursday Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A Dollar General store in Presidio was fined $1,000 because its parking lot light violated a “dark skies” ordinance Big Bend Now

Tom Herman doesn’t get why some University of Houston fans are angry at him Houston Chronicle

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