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The State of Texas: Judge Officially OKs Changes To Voter ID Law

Plus: Galveston Bay makes the environmental grade, Dallas’s central library is preserving the stuff left behind to honor fallen officers, and there’s a warrant out for ex-Miss Corpus Christi Latina.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“I think if you object to something, it’s your patriotic duty to object to it, in a reasonable way. I don’t have any other ways of objecting.”

 —Texas A&M professor John Ellison to KBTX. Ellison has taught genetics at A&M for over 30 years, but he’s retiring before the fall semester in protest of the state’s campus carry law. 


BIG NEWS


Voters stand in line to cast their ballots inside Calvary Baptist Church March 1, 2016 in Rosenberg, Texas.
Voters stand in line to cast their ballots inside Calvary Baptist Church March 1, 2016 in Rosenberg, Texas.

Erich Schlegel/Getty

Changes Made
On Wednesday, a federal judge approved the proposed changes to weaken Texas’s voter ID law before November’s election, officially making a wide range of documents available for voters to present at the polls in order to cast their vote, according to the Texas Tribune. The changes came out of an agreement between the state and a bunch of groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the voter ID law, which was said to be the strictest such law in the country and has been in effect since 2013. Now, you can bring a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, birth certificate—pretty much any government paper with your name and address that shows you’re a citizen—and you’ll be able to vote. Opponents of the original voter ID law see the judge’s approval of the changes as momentous. “Certainly what happened today in court was a victory,” an attorney from a firm representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit told the Tribune. “This is the first time in three years voters will cast a regular ballot in November.” Attorney General Ken Paxton, a big fan of the voter ID law, felt differently. “This case is not over,” a Paxton spokesman said in a statement. As the Tribune notes, the state’s legal defense of the law has already cost taxpayers at least $3.5 million. That’s quite the running bar tab.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


C’s Get Degrees
Galveston Bay isn’t exactly an environmental gem, but it does get still passing marks. A recent report by the Galveston Bay Foundation gave good ol’ Galvy a solid “C” overall, which, by the report’s rubric, means the environmental situation there is “adequate for now.” Pop the champagne! There were some areas of the report where Galveston fared particularly well. It got an “A” in water quality (flesh eating bacteria be damned), but a less impressive “C” in “human health risks,” a grade dragged down by pollution-tainted seafood. The report also says important habitats are disappearing, earning it a ho-hum “D” grade in that category. “Many of the habitats in Galveston Bay and its watershed are under stress,” the report says. “Freshwater wetlands, oyster reefs and underwater grasses (seagrass) have seen significant declines over the years.” The report found Galveston’s consistently rising sea level to be at a “critical” stage, and handed out an “F” in that area. Galveston’s overall “C” grade was consistent with last year’s report card, the first time the group compiled the report.

Odds and Ends
The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas is sorting through all the stuff piled up in tribute to the law enforcement officers killed in July’s sniper attack with the intention of putting it on display in a future exhibit, according to the Dallas Morning News. The only things that were thrown away were perishable items such as balloons and flowers, but plenty of flags, candles, and cards remain. “Anything with writing on it was kept,” writes the Morning News, “even the tattered and rain-soaked notes buried deep in the memorial.” There’s an entire five-foot long card table filled with religious objects, and some more mysterious additions: “A pair of sunglasses, a yellow tape measure, a green dinosaur figurine and a pair of ‘ring pops.'” It’s unclear how many items were picked up from the impromptu memorial, but the library estimates that the number of cards and posters alone far surpasses 1,000.

Wanted Woman
It’s been a hard fall from grace for Caitlin Cifuentes, who held the venerable title of Miss Corpus Christi Latina until her crown was stripped when her criminal history came to light. When she won the contest in June, she was on probation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and intoxication assault, and she later lost her title after the runners-up filed a lawsuit against the pageant director for allowing Cifuentes to compete. Apparently it’s against the competition’s rules to have a rap sheet. According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the terms of her probation prohibited her from going to bars or nightclubs, but she appears to have violated those terms, and there is now a warrant out for her arrest. A YouTube video surfaced allegedly showing Cifuentes at a bar in June, which her attorney said was just part of her duties as Miss Corpus Christi Latina. Is she on the lam? Who knows. But she apparently hasn’t turned herself in yet, and she didn’t return the Caller-Times’s calls.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Fifty years after South Texas watermelon farmworkers went on strike, they still aren’t receiving fair pay NPR

ALERT! There has been Matthew McConaughey sighting in Rio Austin American-Statesman

When you steal an ambulance, you take it straight to an adult bookstore KDFW

…and when you have a horse, you ride it straight to Taco Bell KDFW

Texas has some nice health and wellness resorts USA Today

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