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The State of Texas: Ken Paxton Weighs In On Fort Worth Bathroom Battle

Plus: A new survey shows Trump’s most controversial policy proposals have support in Texas, a fiery train crash outside Amarillo, and a fight over plastic bags in Laredo could have statewide implications.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“Let’s get this party started.”

—Robert Morrow, shortly before he was sworn in as chairman of Travis County’s Republican Party. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Morrow spent most of his first meeting in charge rattling off his various conspiracy theories. Oh, and he was also wearing a jester’s hat.  


BIG NEWS


Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton speaks to members of the media as Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller listens in front of the U.S. Supreme Court April 18, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton speaks to members of the media as Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller listens in front of the U.S. Supreme Court April 18, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong/Getty

Bathroom Beliefs
Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an official opinion Tuesday in the ongoing battle over a Fort Worth school district’s transgender-inclusive bathroom guidelines, according to the Texas Tribune. Unsurprisingly, the conservative Republican’s ruling, which came in response to a request from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, an outspoken opponent of the guidelines, claims that the school district’s superintendent overstepped his authority by implementing the LGBT-friendly guidelines, and that another part of the district’s guidelines telling district employees not to out students to their families might also be against state law. Patrick praised Paxton’s opinion, saying it is “a clear and resounding victory for parents.” Of course, Paxton’s opinions don’t actually legally bind anything, so, as of right now, Fort Worth ISD’s guidelines remain. Meanwhile, LGBT youth spoke up at a Fort Worth school board meeting, praising the guidelines for keeping them safe and urging the board to keep the guidelines in place. “There are people who will kick their children out — who beat them,” one 18-year old told the school board, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “A school district is here to serve the children, not the parents.” Coincidentally, Paxton’s decision fell on the anniversary of an infamous 2009 police raid on a gay bar in Fort Worth that left two people injured and caused outcry among the city’s LGBT community, which later led the city to make sweeping changes in an effort to repair the relationship between police and the LGBT community.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Survey Says
According to a recently released survey, most Texas voters are totally OK with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most controversial policy proposals. The survey, conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, shows that 52 percent of respondents support building a wall along the Mexican border, while 52 percent also support banning Muslims from entering the country. As the Dallas Morning News noted, the same UT group released the results of another poll on Tuesday, which showed Trump’s lead over likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had shrunk to single digits. Unsurprisingly, there was a big difference between the responses of Republicans and Democrats in the new survey: 76 percent of Republicans supported Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and 67 percent of Democrats opposed it, and 76 percent of Republicans also were in favor of building that wall and 70 percents of Democrats were against it. What’s it all mean? At the very least, according to UT’s analysis of the survey, the results show a “thirst” in Texas for the “populist-tinged brew of nationalism and nativism flowing through Trump’s rhetoric.”

Train Crash
Two freight trains exploded in a ball of fire after colliding head-on near the North Texas town of Panhandle, outside of Amarillo, on Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, three crew members are still missing, and one is being treated for non-life threatening injuries after he managed to escape the wreck by jumping from the train at the last second. Each train had a two-man crew. According to the New York Times, the crash happened at 8:30 Tuesday morning. Per the Associated Press‘s report, fire crews were still fighting the massive blaze as late as 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The collision was apparently pretty bad—the damage stretched 400 yards along the train tracks, and the massive cloud of black smoke was “so noxious,” the Times writes, that residents of Panhandle were asked to evacuate. It’s unclear what caused the crash or why the two trains were on the same track.

It’s In The Bag
Plastic bag bans across the state could be in jeopardy, according to the Texas TribuneGround zero for the Big Bag Battle of 2016 is the unlikely metropolis of Laredo, where an appeal challenging the city’s ordinance regulating the use of plastic bags at checkouts has gotten the attention of state Republican lawmakers, twenty of whom filed an amicus brief in the case arguing to overturn Laredo’s bag ban. According to the Laredo Morning-Times, none of those lawmakers who filed the amicus brief are from anywhere near Laredo, and most are from North Texas. The original lawsuit was filed against the city by a pro-business group in Laredo in an attempt to overturn the bag ban. The main issue both sides are arguing over in the actual court case is bag ambiguity: what is a plastic bag? State law says that local governments can’t prohibit the use of a “container or a package” for waste-management purposes. If the appeals court rules that bags are containers, the ban will go away; otherwise, the ban remains in place. Eight Texas cities, including Austin, currently enforce bag bans, so this has statewide implications. But the argument is really about more than just bags. As the Tribune notes, the case is also a “flashpoint” in Texas’s ongoing war over local control.


WHAT WE’RE READING


The FBI and Secret Service are assisting with the investigation of a North Texas journalist’s murder Dallas Morning News

Just a sample of J.J. Watt’s insane diet: SIX EGGS for breakfast, then four more for “second breakfast” GQ

Roach-fil-A Laredo Morning-Times

Tim Duncan might not actually retire just yet The Vertical

Is the chupacabra back? El Paso Times

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