Texas Redistricting Case Goes to Trial in San Antonio: Your Texas Roundup
Plus: Ted Cruz throws himself into the debate over health care, a young tourist from Austin is beaten to death in Greece, and a ”Fixer Upper” renovation goes bad.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They play the music. They go fast. They go too slow. They do everything but what they’re supposed to be doing.”
—South Padre Island resident Colleen Beumel to KRGV about the scourge of golf carts on the island. Apparently cart drivers frequently cause accidents by driving recklessly, and often break the law by not wearing seat belts or by stuffing too many people into a cart.
Map Battle—The long legal battle over Texas redistricting heads to trial on Monday in San Antonio, where a panel of three federal judges will hear a case that will likely determine the congressional district boundaries across the state. The trial is expected to last all week, and it comes amid a flurry of activity surrounding the nearly six-year old case. In April, the panel of judges ruled that the maps drawn by the GOP-led Texas Legislature in 2011 were discriminatory and violated the Voting Rights Act. The panel invalidated three congressional districts in that ruling. The next month, the panel found that the state drew the maps to intentionally dilute the voting power of minorities in an effort to give Republicans an advantage. And in May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several gerrymandered districts in North Carolina in a ruling that many legal analysts saw as a warning to Texas. The maps that were drawn by in 2011 never actually went into effect, so this time the panel will be looking at the maps that were implemented during a special session in 2013 and have been used across the state ever since, according to the Texas Tribune. Those maps were actually drawn by the court—and enacted by the Lege—as a temporary fix after a successful legal challenge to the 2011 maps. According to the Tribune, Texas plans to argue this week that it can’t be held responsible for maps that were drawn by the court. The civil rights groups suing the state, meanwhile, say the maps are similar enough to those drawn up in 2011 to still be effectively discriminatory, and they want maps redrawn ahead of the 2018 election.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Cruzin’ On Up—Ted Cruz spent his Fourth of July week at the center of the debate over the GOP’s controversial health care bill that’s currently languishing in the U.S. Senate. According to the Washington Post, Cruz is “suddenly in the hot seat” to get the Republican health care bill passed through the Senate, after touring Texas while most of his congressional colleagues were on vacation. Cruz faced tough crowds in town halls in McKinney and Austin, and encountered protesters at a speech in McAllen. He also did interviews with two Sunday news shows to push his Consumer Freedom Amendment, which calls for an even deeper rollback of the Affordable Care Act. As the Post notes, Cruz’s amendment might appeal to conservative Republicans, but it probably won’t fly with moderates.
Tragedy in Europe—Twenty-two-year-old Baraki Henderson of Austin died on Friday after he was beaten by about eight men during a bar fight in Greece, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Henderson was a recent grad of the University of Arizona and had previously interned in Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’s office. He was visiting the Greek island of Zakynthos while working on a photo shoot to launch his new fashion line. Six Serbian men, a Greek man and a British man have been arrested and charged in connection with Henderson’s death. Police are still investigating the incident. “Bakari loved spending time with family and friends, traveling and meeting new people,” Henderson’s family said in a statement on Friday, according to the Statesman. “He was a big thinker and enjoyed coming up with new business ventures.”
Fixer Downer—On Saturday morning, a suspected drunk driver smashed through a home in Waco that was featured on season twelve of the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. The owners, Ken and Kelly Downs, weren’t hurt, but the house, nicknamed “Three Little Pigs” on Fixer Upper, took a hit. The car destroyed an exterior wall and an interior wall of a front room. This is just the latest problem for the house and its owners. Apparently ever since the couple bought the place and had it renovated by show hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, things haven’t exactly gone smoothly. The Downses seem happy with the renovations, but they say their new neighborhood is plagued by late-night noise from nearby bars and “suspicious activity.” They say they’ve also received pushback from neighbors. “We have been intimidated and harassed,” Kelly Downs told the Tribune. “People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes. … It’s not safe. This is Fixer Upper gone bad.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Dallas wants a city council member to fork over $8,000 for missing too many meetings Dallas Morning News
An expanding high school campus in Denton keeps creeping closer to aging gas wells Denton Record Chronicle
Texas environmental regulators seem to be going easy on polluters San Antonio Express-News
Dingsanity? China’s Ding Yanyuhang is lighting up the NBA Summer League for the Mavs Dallas Morning News
Kay Bailey Hutchison will have the role of “diplomatic enforcer” as Trump’s ambassador to NATO Houston Chronicle