The State of Texas: January 25, 2016
The never-ending Paxton saga, rural power fights, and the school that suspended its brave student.
Quote of the Day
Senator Ted Cruz got a pretty solid endorsement from our former governor in the days leading up to the Iowa Caucus.
— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) January 25, 2016
And, of course, it isn’t a true Rick Perry statement without a moment that makes you go, “Wait, what?”:
“There’s that old adage, ‘You gotta hit the mule upside the head to get its attention from time to time.’ I’d suggest that’s exactly what the senator was doing.”
The Never Ending Story — Unfortunately, there’s no Atreyu and Falkor in this version, just our fearless Attorney General and his band of lawyers. If you were banking on a resolution to Ken Paxton’s problems, despite all the craziness, you bet wrong (and hope it wasn’t fantasy betting). “An appeal by Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is seeking to dismiss charges that he violated state securities laws, will extend at least into spring, with a strong chance of a ruling being delayed until summer or later,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. “The Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals has given Paxton’s lawyers until Feb. 22 to file a brief arguing why they believe the felony charges should be thrown out.” This type of pre-trial appeal is apparently an “expedited” version— and wait, it gets better! “But if the court decides to hear oral arguments instead of ruling based solely on the briefs, resolution of the appeal would be pushed further back. With or without arguments, however, judges typically spend several months researching and writing the opinion — with even more time required if a member of the three-judge panel pens a dissenting opinion — and appeals courts have no deadline to act.” Then, of course, Paxton and his team can appeal any final decision, which they probably will. Expect a conclusion sometime around the 3016.
Fight the Power — Somehow we’re back to those wonderful times in the 1930s and 1940s, when people out in the sticks couldn’t get proper power because it’s such a hassle to get it to them. The Texas Tribune has an interesting look at the skyrocketing power rates of rural residence. Highlighting one family in particularly with such a problem, the story notes that “the soaring rates weren’t for the electricity itself. Rather, they were paying vastly higher bills to the company whose distribution system and transmission lines bring it to their farm. The Raney [family] are among more than 50,000 Sharyland Utilities customers — in homes, businesses and churches in rural West and North Texas — that are contemplating tough budget choices after nearly two years of paying the highest electric transmission and distribution rates in Texas.” What’s more, they don’t have any other options. “Delivery rates for Sharyland residents are more than twice the state average for regulated utilities. While locals — like many Texans — can choose retail electric providers on the competitive market, they’re stuck with Sharyland’s power lines.” Naturally, people are pretty upset and an “commission investigation” is underway to find a solution. One fix, obviously touted by the power company, is to gain control of another company, which would give it more resources to serve such customers. Meanwhile, the company has “pushed back, calling the concerns ‘alarmist and misguided.'” A decision on the acquisition is expected in the spring.
Research Rumblings — It’s hard to shake the idea that Texas needs to keep researching all the quakes happening (get it?). And it looks like that’s happening again, despite, you know, previous studies that say the quakes are likely man-made (i.e. the fault of the oil and energy companies). Lawmakers have finally agreed to put aside more money, $4.5 million, for research. “Now the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, overseen by the University of Texas, is getting off the ground, with two key hires about to start work and new seismographic equipment soon to be deployed. The findings of the project could have long-term consequences for the oil and gas industry,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. Or not! “Seismologists have long known humans are capable of causing earthquakes, and some suspect the injection of wastewater material related to fracking has lubricated long-stuck faults, leading to the shifting of earth underfoot. But Texas policymakers had been reluctant to acknowledge the scientific papers by … seismologists.” The Statesman story does note all the recent efforts the Lege has made in increasing earthquake research and regulation. And to his credit, “Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples said he welcomed the new seismology work. ‘We want to get academics, and government and the industry to all work together on this,’ he said.”
Good Samaritan — Another great example of when policy and procedure run amok and override common sense. A Killeen eighth grader was suspended after—wait for it—trying to save his classmate’s life. According to the Associated Press and KWTX, a student was suffering from an asthma attack, and while she gasped, the teacher was reportedly waiting on a response from the nurse about the proper course of action. The teacher told students to stay in their seats, but when the afflicted student fell out of her seat, eighth-grade rebel Anthony Ruelas picked her up and carried her to the nurse’s office. Then he was punished. Rightly, the story is now making the national rounds. “Ruelas was written up by his teacher and eventually suspended for two days,” writes the Washington Post. What’s more, “A teacher’s report documenting the incident appears to correspond with Ruelas’s version of what transpired.” The school won’t comment because (duh) it wants to protect the privacy of its students. Fun detail about the story: the school is an “alternative” one for presumably difficult kids and Ruelas is apparently personally familiar with how suspensions work. Good lesson, everyone!