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The State of Texas: It’s Bill Filing Season In The State Legislature

Plus: A Dallas church’s LGBT inclusivity gets it kicked out of a state Baptist group, Snapchat glasses could be coming to Texas, and there’s a furry new addition to the George W. and Laura Bush family.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“I just never thought I’d hear anything from him ever again.”

—Jessica Urbina, of Mesquite, to the Dallas Morning News. Urbina lost her dog, Bam Bam, on Easter 2012, and after a few failed search attempts she apparently never expected to see the dog again. But they were miraculously reunited at the DFW Airport Monday night after a Las Vegas animal hospital ID’d Bam Bam by his microchip and called Urbina to let her know that they had her long-lost dog, who somehow ended up all the way in Nevada.


BIG NEWS


Texas State Capitol building located in Austin, Texas, USA.

Thinkstock/Getty

Just A Bill
Monday was the first day state legislators could file bills for consideration during the 2017 session, and there was a flurry of activity. How exciting! There’s a little something for everyone in this first batch of filed bills, from the confrontational (according to the Texas Tribune, inter-party “battle lines” were already drawn on day one), to the bizarre (laws about raw milk, raffle tickets, and powdered booze are all up for debate, the Dallas Morning News reports). Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick revealed his ten priority bills he said he’ll fight for in the upcoming session, including a bathroom bill, an anti-abortion bill, and one that would end sanctuary cities. On the bluer side of the fence, a group of Democratic lawmakers indicated that they aren’t happy about the way things are going in the Lege, accusing their Republican counterparts of promoting divisiveness, and they promised to focus on “kitchen table” matters, whatever that means. “We have been the grownups,” said Representative Donna Howard of Austin said, according to the Tribune. “We are going to continue to be the grownups.” So 2017 sounds like it’ll be fun. Aside from the more obvious bones of contention, the Lege will also hear a few smaller—and stranger—bills that are just as divisive among Democratic and Republican lawmakers. According to the Morning News, the two parties are split over, of all things, powered alcohol. “Texans love their margaritas,” the Morning News writes with authority, “but some Republicans worry that people might abuse the product by snorting or eating it.” Dems, meanwhile, want powdered booze—including creatively-named products like “Palcohol”—to be covered by the state’s definition of alcohol. We’re set for another exciting legislative session next year, so sit back with a cold, powdered drink (or not?) and see what happens.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Baptist Beef
Despite facing threats of expulsion from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, a Dallas church went ahead and voted on Monday for LGBT-inclusive policies, approving full-membership for LGBT people, according to WFAA. Members of the Wilshire Baptist Church passed the new policy with a 61 percent majority, with nearly two thousand total ballots cast. “We want to normalize life as quickly as possible for LGBT folk,” Senior Pastor George Mason told WFAA. “And this is not a one-issue church. It’s a church and we’re simply saying the Gospel is open to all and closed to none.” But the move also meant the church can no longer be part of the state’s Baptist organization, which has a history of kicking out member churches who are more progressive than others. “While Texas Baptists are loving, respectful and welcoming to all people, we have a longstanding and often reaffirmed biblical position on human sexuality,” the Baptist General Convention of Texas said in a statement. “As in the past, when a church chooses a position outside of the [Baptist General Convention of Texas] position, that church effectively withdraws from harmonious cooperation.” Wilshire Baptist doesn’t seem too worried. “Baptist institutions are supposed to serve the churches, not the other way around,” Mason said in his sermon on Sunday, according to the Dallas Morning News. “When they fail in that mission, it is because they, too, may have succumbed to worry and fear in dictating their actions.”

Snapchat Spectacles
Snapchat, the social media app that lets users send each other photos and short videos, rolled out video-camera sunglasses called “Spectacles,” and they could be headed for Texas next, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company sold the limited-supply glasses via a traveling, bright-yellow vending machine in California. Snap LLC registered in Texas and got a sales tax permit back in September, per the Times, indicating the strange invention could hit the market here relatively soon. The company kept mum on the vending machine’s next destination, but told the Times it would be making an announcement early Tuesday morning to unveil the newest Snapchat Spectacles location. According to the Times, the glasses have caused quite the frenzy so far in California: “Dozens, if not hundreds, of people have showed up, waited for hours and only been denied their chance to pay $130 for a pair,” while “Some buyers have shelled out about a $1,000 to get Spectacles off EBay.” We’ll see if Texas takes to them with the same vigor.

Dog Days
George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, have a new dog. Look at it and gently weep at its unbearable cuteness. According to the Dallas Morning News, the Bushes adopted the puppy—an Australian shepherd mix named Freddy—last week. Freddy’s only twelve weeks old, and he was among the puppies found by a sanitation worker at an abandoned dump site in South Dallas, family spokesman Freddy (no relation, we think) Ford told the Morning News. “Laura and I are thrilled to introduce the newest member of our family, Freddy Bush,” the Bush family wrote on Facebook. “We visited the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center last Tuesday to thank them for their great work—and came home with a puppy. We already love him, and even our cats Bob and Bernadette are finding Freddy’s charm futile to resist. If you could use a little extra joy in your life, consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group.”


WHAT WE’RE READING


A San Antonian could be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee San Antonio Express-News

If you have $50,000, you can buy the handcuffs used to arrest Lee Harvey Oswald Houston Chronicle

A team of Texas A&M researchers are out to save coffee KBTX

McAllen wants the feds to reimburse them for the big money they’ve spent on immigration humanitarian work McAllen Monitor

The city of Marfa wants a cemetery to pay it back after undercharging them for eight years KOSA

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