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State Senate Committee Approves Changes To Voter ID Law: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: A 67-year old Texas woman climbs her tree to keep it from being cut down, a Cowboys legend not named Tony Romo retires, and the struggle is real for SXSW conference attendees.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“I am Republican, but Beyonce is the only queen I have time for. Of course I like Beyonce.”

—Ireland Teachta Dála (like a congressman, basically) Jonathan O’Brien, to the Daily Edge. An intrepid Edge reporter queried every member of the Irish parliament and asked them three very important questions: Do you like Beyoncé? What is your favorite Beyoncé song? And, if they responded that they did not like Beyoncé (gasp!), then why? The responses were actually great. Whether you know anything about Irish politics or not, it’s pretty funny to see someone like Ireland’s 60-year-old Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan admit to being a huge Beyoncé fan who once attended a Bey concert in Central Park. 


BIG NEWS


     

Ron Jenkins/Getty

ID Overhaul
As prescribed by a federal court, Texas must make some major changes to its voter identification law. The state took a big step toward in making those changes a reality on Monday, when the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send legislation that would change the law to the full chamber, according to the Texas Tribune. Senate Bill 5, filed by Senator Joan Huffman, gives registered voters who don’t have a photo ID the opportunity to provide other documentation that lists their name and address, like a voter registration certificate, utility bill, bank statement, government check, or work paycheck, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Also under the bill, voters older than 70 would be able to vote using expired photo IDs, and the Texas secretary of state would be required to start a mobile program for issuing election ID certificates. “The people of the state of Texas demand integrity at the ballot box,” Huffman said Monday, according to the Tribune. “I am committed to constitutionally sound voter ID.” Last year, a federal appeals court ordered the state to overhaul the 2011 law after the court ruled that it discriminated against minorities and violated the voting rights of about 600,000 Texans. A lower court temporarily weakened the law ahead of last November’s elections, and Huffman’s bill pretty much follows those blueprints. Voting rights advocates were fairly happy with the progress of SB5, but there’s a small hitch that has them a little upset: the bill also calls for harsher punishments for folks who are found to be lying about not having a photo ID—under SB5 they’d be hit with a third degree felony, and if convicted could face between two and ten years in prison.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Tree Hugger
How much do you love the tree in your yard? Enough to put yourself between the trunk and the axe? Enough to climb said tree and hold on for your dear life and force a stand-off until either the bulldozer blinks first or you lose your grip? Enough to climb that damn tree at the ripe old age of 67? Jeri Huber, a 67-year old resident of Dallas’s Lakewood neighborhood, literally climbed a tree outside her home on Monday to prevent an electric company crew from tearing it down, according to KXAS-TV. She eventually descended from the treetop after the company told her they’d be back with a restraining order (they did get one). Amazingly, this isn’t even the first time Huber has climbed a tree in protest. According to the Dallas Morning News, in 2010, Huber toted a pellet gun up to the top of her tree to prevent the same company from tearing it down (they secured a restraining order then, too).

Saying Goodbye
Former Dallas Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware announced his retirement on Monday, marking the end to a remarkable career, according to ESPN. Ware was selected by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft and went on to play twelve seasons, nine of them with the Cowboys. For many of those seasons, Ware was the premier pass rusher in the league. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time first-team All-Pro. He ranks eighth in NFL history with 138.5 sacks, so he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Ware didn’t win a Super Bowl until he left Dallas for the Denver Broncos, but he’ll always be a Cowboy in our hearts. According to the Dallas Morning News, it’s possible Ware might sign a one-day contract with the Cowboys so he can retire as a member of the team. “DeMarcus was everything we could have ever wanted in a player, a person and a representative of the Cowboys organization,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He was one of the most dominant NFL players at his position in his era, and he was one of the most dynamic players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.”

South by South Woes
SXSW is under way, which means it’s time for one of the festival’s most storied traditions: people complaining about stuff. This year, Austin’s lack of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft seems to be at the top of a lot of everyone’s list of grievances, and folks have been flocking to Twitter to air them, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The bros and gals visiting SXSW from tech start-up companies based in places like Silicon Valley seemed particularly perturbed by being inhumanely forced to, like, park a car or maybe even walk a bit (or, you know, use the other ridesharing services that have popped up in the meantime). As Slate noted, one CEO of a tech company tweeted that “Austin is broken without Uber or Lyft.” OK, dude, just find a bus stop. Meanwhile, changes to the way seating is handled for panel discussions this year have also caused some grumbling among the SXSW crowd. According to the Statesman, the longstanding “one person out, one person in” seating rule (meaning if someone leaves a full panel event, someone still waiting in line could be let in) is out this year, so when a panel is full the doors close for good. To top if off, the conference has had some issues with the video feed of the panel that’s provided for spillover rooms. Tragic!


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

The heart-stopping, head-pounding life of a concussed Texas rodeo cowboy Houston Press

Baylor’s associate director for football operations was just fired for sending inappropriate texts KWTX

Midland, get ready for an invasion of migrating bats KWES

The Wildlife Center of Texas found some baby armadillos, here are pictures KPRC

Here’s a handy guide for hopping on the SMU bandwagon ahead of the NCAA tournament Dallas Observer

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  • José

    That little provision in SB5 is interesting. A person can be prosecuted and sent to jail for making a false statement about having a photo ID even if said person is actually a legally eligible voter in the State of Texas. In other words this ain’t really about keeping folks from voting illegally, it’s about punishing people for other reasons. If we start arresting people for saying stupid things that don’t actually result in any harm then every blessed person in the Texas state government is in danger.

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