The State of Texas: March 10, 2016
Voter ID law getting new appeal hearing; Texans pick up Brock Osweiler; and a big, crappy lawsuit out of Dallas.
If you watched the Democrat debate last night, you may have recognized the boy who sang the national anthem. It was none other than San Antonio mariachi singer Sebastien de la Cruz, who’s appeared on America’s Got Talent and is no stranger to star-spangled controversies.
— Univisión Mexico (@UnivisionMex) March 9, 2016
Full-Court Press — Texas really wants its completely unnecessary voter ID law to work. The 2011 law was unanimously struck down by a three-judge panel last year, but the state has appealed and now a literal room full of judges will hear the case. “The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the entire court will hear Veasey vs. Abbott in an en banc hearing, which is a hearing before the full circuit court panel. There are 22 judges serving the 5th Circuit Court, with two vacancies,” writes the Dallas Morning News. As the Texas Tribune notes, “The case centers on whether the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and African-American voters when it passed Senate Bill 14 in 2011, requiring most citizens to show one of a handful of forms of allowable photo identification before their election ballots can be counted.” How will the case play out this time? The Austin American-Statesman points to the fact that the “New Orleans-based appellate court is packed with more appointees by Republican presidents than Democratic ones, prompting Richard Hasen, an election law expert, to call the order potentially troubling to opponents of the law.” A date has not been set for the hearing, and “with so much at stake with the law, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely by whichever side loses at the 5th Circuit.”
Rattled — The fight over the Texas tradition of hunting snakes continues to slither into the twenty-first century, now with a petition to have the practice of “gassing” banned. “The petition, filed [with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department] by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Texas Snake Initiative, and several Texas residents, says the practice of spraying gas and other chemicals into countryside crevices to force snakes out of their lairs harms habitats and other wildlife, including federally endangered species that inhabit holes and crevices along with rattlesnakes,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. The petition “requires a formal response from the state within a couple of months,” not that that means a whole heck of a lot. The poor politicians and government leaders are having a real time trying to balance the traditions (and cash flow) of small-town folks with concerns for wildlife safety. Back in January, a “working group” tasked with assessing the issue and coming up with a recommendation couldn’t do much of either; it seems that they just hope the issue kinda goes away and/or they slither under a rock to hide.
Wizard of Os — Welcome to Texas, Brock Osweiler! Please don’t suck. In football news heard ’round the sports bar, the Denver Broncos quarterback has agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. For the team, it’s more than simply getting what hopefully turns out to be a good arm. “Now the Texans won’t need to use their first-round pick on a quarterbacks,” writes the Houston Chronicle. “They won’t have to trade picks to move up in the first round. They have more flexibility to fill other needs like in the offensive line, wide receiver, defensive end, safety and tight end.” The news of the deal hasn’t been met with all-out acclaim. The headline from one USA Today columnist is “Houston gave Brock Osweiler $72 million and no one has any idea if he’s good,” pointing to the fact that the 25-year-old has started in, like, seven games total. The Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon, too, is suspicious, telling his reader-fans not to get too excited just yet. So, um, no pressure there, Brock!
Crappy Lawsuit — It’s the kind of news item that just begs to be mocked and punned. The Dallas-based company responsible for the ridiculous commercials about hiding the smell of your poop (it is a real thing, folks), is suing a similar company for its marketing approach. “In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in Dallas, Scentsible claims that Reckitt Benckiser LLC is ‘using confusingly similar trademarks’ to Poo-Pourri,” according to the Dallas Morning News. The suit states that the “defendant slavishly copied Poo-Pourri’s copyrighted advertising materials, including its famous ‘Girls Don’t Poop’ video, which was released in 2013, and has now been viewed over 36 million times on YouTube.” Fun little nuggets are dropped throughout the suit, with Poo-Pourri saying it’s “the leader in the market, with V.I.Poo ‘a distant number two.'” If you absolutely must know more about the Dallas company, the D Magazine‘s legendary Michael J. Mooney wrote a 2014 feature story on Poo-Poourri’s grand poobah, Suzy Batiz.