The State of Texas: March 9, 2016
Cruz gets the coveted Chuck Norris endorsement, and Baylor insists it’s working hard to prevent sexual assaults.
Photo of the Day
Behold, the elusive Trump voter, in Texas (presumably). This is happening. It’s real, and none of us are ready for it.
— Summer Sharp (@SummerSharp) March 9, 2016
Texas By the Numbers
Jail Safety — Number of county jails in Texas: 242. Number of suicides since they’ve begun screen inmates for mental health issue in the past three months: 0. Number of suicides in previous five years: 140. Yearly average: 24.
Voter Non-Participation — Number Texans who voted in presidential primary: Over 4.2 million. Number of states that had a primary before Tuesday: 12. Texas’s turnout rank among those states: 11th. Portion of voting-aged Texans who came out: 21.5 percent.
Golden Pipeline — Who says legal talk of money, taxes and oil pipes ain’t exciting? “With billions of dollars at stake, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a tax showdown whose outcome could shake up the next legislative session while straining the historically friendly relationship between state lawmakers and the iconic oil and gas sector,” writes the Texas Tribune. Although there was debate of “arcane accounting rules” and such, the case “ultimately focuses on a single question: Are metal pipes, tubing and other equipment used in oil and gas extraction exempt from sales taxes?” State leaders such as Comptroller Glenn Hegar are all in favor of exceptions, maybe not because it’s correct but because non-exemptions (which lower courts have ruled in favor of) “would wipe out the state’s projected $4 billion budget surplus.” The case being argued is over a mere $500,000, but a ruling in favor of the Midland energy company could result in losses “up to $4.4 billion in refund filings for 2017 alone … and $500 million each subsequent year that the exemption remains in place.” Then of course, there’s the seemingly boring debate happening in the courthouse about “tangible personal property” and the tax code. So far, “the justices offered few clues as to how they might rule.”
Carnival Cruz — Another sweep of primary election days, another parallel universe in which the most craven, racist, lying of demagogues still does well. Donald Trump won three of the four Republican primary states, but despite his continued success, it seems more and more people are trying to rally around Ted Cruz, who they don’t seem particularly enthused about, either. But hey, a Cruz is better than a Trump (who are these “Rubio” and “Kasich” characters?). In the latest circling of the wagons, Cruz has gotten some important-ish endorsements and support. The first is Neil Bush, apparently the third Bush child, who was named along with his wife as two of the “13 new members of [Cruz’s campaign] national finance team,” writes the Tribune. And then, of course, “Cruz confirmed reports that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney has offered his help in the fight against Trump.” Those names are fine enough, but the real headline-grabber is that Cruz got the endorsement of none other than Chuck Norris. The jokes about Chuck Norris, along with his weird political efforts with Republican candidates for the past decade are beyond a lame name. Still, a thumbs up from Bible-chopping Chuck means something. Chuck will be campaigning for Cruz in North Carolina on Sunday, according to the Houston Chronicle. And if all this presidential fun wasn’t enough, more local Republican insanity continues. “Travis County Republican Party on Tuesday took its first official steps in distancing itself from Robert Morrow, the conspiracy theorist whose election last week as county GOP chairman made national news,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. There really is no redeeming quality to Morrow, but the people have spoken! And no “executive committee” with its “resolution” to “condemn” people it doesn’t like is going to change that.
Sex Ed — Baylor wants you to know that it now cares about the sexual safety of its students. Which, thank goodness, seeing as it had yet another high-profile incident just this past week. Perhaps because it was International Women’s Day—or because the university realizes that ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away—on Tuesday a student affairs administrator told lawmakers that “his school has made preventing and responding to sexual violence a top priority,” according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. In keeping with the university’s transparency, Kevin Jackson, vice president of student life, “didn’t address specific incidents that have put the school under a national microscope. ” The rest of what was said was the usual claptrap that has proved completely ineffective in stopping Baylor’s systemic problem. And how could politicians make the day any worse? By being themselves, of course. During the committee meeting, Representative Myra Crownover made the unfortunate comment that maybe booze and sexual assault were “intertwined.” And while there has definitely been discussion about alcohol and sex, the Internet was understandably not happy with a politician making such connections when the basic safety of women hasn’t been assured. Crownover later “clarified” her statements to the Dallas Morning News, writing “Let me be clear, whether or not the victim of a sexual assault was intoxicated does not mitigate, condone or excuse the actions of the other party. However, I do not think we can properly address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses without also discussing the role drugs and alcohol play in this important issue.”