The State of Texas: The Bathroom Bill Is Here
Plus: Trump’s border wall takes shape, Texas schools get graded, and Ted Cruz may have some new challengers seeking his Senate spot.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Do not try this at home. This man is insane.”
—Gayne Young, scoutmaster of Fredericksburg’s Boy Scout Troop 137, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Young made the comment while videotaping his fellow scout leader Johnny as he consumed 23 incredibly hot ghost peppers. Johnny managed to eat the entire plate of peppers—it took him about three minutes, and it wasn’t pretty. The video includes about two minutes of Johnny in visible agony after consuming the peppers. It was all for a good cause, though: to raise funds for scholarships and uniforms for troop members.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick finally announced on Thursday his long-promised bill that would ban transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with the gender they identify with. According to the Texas Tribune, Patrick’s Senate Bill 6 would cover bathrooms in public schools, public universities, and government buildings, forcing people to use the restrooms that align with the “biological sex” listed on their birth certificates. Should the bill pass, it would flush any local non-discrimination ordinances down the toilet. The proposed bathroom bill mimics the one enacted in North Carolina last year. Yes, that bathroom bill, which has cost the Tar Heel state hundreds of million of dollars in lost business opportunities—national sports organizations, businesses like Facebook, Pay Pal, American Airlines, and even Bruce Springsteen have all publicly condemned the law and, in some cases, moved to reduce or remove their economic impact in the state. Texas likely faces the same fate. The bill drew the ire of hundreds of small businesses across the state, and, according to the New York Times, the prospect of Texas hosting major sporting events in the future will almost certainly be put at risk should the bill be passed. Patrick, though, doesn’t seem to care. “We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Patrick said at a news conference announcing the bill, according to the Tribune. “But we know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history. You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
President-elect Donald Trump’s wall along the Mexico border is taking shape, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to follow through on one of his biggest campaign promises. Who’s going to pay for the wall? Not Mexico, as it turns out. According to the Washington Post, Trump’s transition team and members of Congress are looking for ways to fund Trump’s wall, and hope to start building it sometime in the next few months. They may have found a law, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, that would give Trump the authority to build a border-long barrier, costing billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars (that’s U.S. taxpayer dollars, not Mexican pesos). Just for kicks, here’s an actual Trump quote from just, like, three months ago: “I said Mexico is paying for the wall, with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall, okay?” he said during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, according to the Post. “We’re going to have the wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.” Of course, this isn’t surprising, since Trump never provided any details at any point during his campaign about a realistic plan that would force Mexico to pay for his wall. Anyway, if we do have a wall, it looks like the public will foot the massive bill.
The state released the final report card for schools across the state using its brand-new A-through-F grading system, and, well, the results aren’t that great. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the state’s controversial new grading system for schools got off to a rocky start: a bunch of schools got seriously low grades, while traditionally high-performing schools were given grades that were unusually low, and some schools that got positive marks in a state assessment just a few months earlier received unexpectedly low marks in the new format. Statewide, a small percentage (like, less than thirteen percent) of all grades handed out for student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness were A’s, while the majority of grades handed out were C’s, D’s, or F’s. Of course, the state’s A-through-F grading system is still taking shape, and the final system won’t go into effect until August 2018. But this test round does not seem to be going particularly smoothly.
Ever since his awkward non-endorsement of then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the GOP National Convention in July, Ted Cruz’s Senate seat has come under fire from all sides. Now it looks like he has two more challengers to worry about. The newest (and, perhaps, most interesting) name to crop up as a potential replacement Ted? Matthew Dowd, a former strategist for George W. Bush. According to the Texas Tribune, Dowd, who is currently a TV commentator based in Austin, has been approached by both Republicans and Democrats vying to oust Cruz. “I don’t know what I will do,” Dowd told Tribune. “But I am giving it some thought, and I appreciate the interest of folks.” Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, said on Thursday that he’ll probably take on Ted. “It’s very likely that I will run for Senate in 2018,” O’Rourke told the Tribune. What’s Cruz think about all this? Well, he can’t even see the haters.“At this point, I don’t see anyone that is likely to run,” Cruz told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday, according to the Washington Times, “but I am going to assume that the threat is serious and prepare accordingly.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
A frustrated Texas rancher is taking a blind, endangered spider to court Wall Street Journal
Rick Perry is no longer on the board of directors of a Dallas pipeline company Texas Tribune
Here’s a peak inside the weird, wild world of Houston’s restaurant biz Houston Press
38,000 pounds of frozen beef burned (er, was cooked very well-done?) in an Amarillo truck fire Amarillo Globe-News
The rapid, troubling fall of former Cowboys running back Joseph Randle Sports Illustrated