The State of Texas: Planned Parenthood Set To Battle Texas In Court Over Medicaid Ouster
Plus: Houston’s subsidized housing program gets slammed by the feds, state lawmakers mull an under-21 smoking ban, and Texas’s NFL teams go down swinging.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I don’t think SpongeBob is that famous.”
—Javier Ramos, owner of IJR Capital Investments, to the Houston Press. A federal judge ruled last week that Ramos couldn’t call his Kemah seafood restaurant The Krusty Krab—the same name as a certain animated square-shaped sponge’s place of employment—because of trademark infringement. Apparently Ramos is not a fan of the show.
Defund Or Not Defund
Planned Parenthood is taking Texas to court this week over the state’s decision to boot the women’s health organization from Medicaid, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The state’s decision to strip $3.1 million of state and federal funding from Planned Parenthood is set to go into effect on Saturday, which could potentially impact thousands of low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for a variety of health services, including cancer screenings and family planning. According to the notification letter Texas Health and Human Services sent to Planned Parenthood, the state’s reason for kicking the organization out of Medicaid stems from undercover videos taken in 2015 by anti-abortion advocates. The videos supposedly showed Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast officials discussing the sale of fetal body parts, and even though a Harris County court cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted the makers of the video, the state claimed in its notification letter that the videos showed “gross violations of medical and ethical standards.” That decision prompted Planned Parenthood to file a lawsuit, asking a federal judge to block its ousting from Medicaid. According to the Statesman, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks will hear three days of testimony starting at 9 a.m. today in Austin. With only a few days left before the removal of Planned Parenthood from Medicaid is set to go into effect, it’s possible Sparks may simply issue a temporary injunction blocking the state’s decision, and, as the Statesman notes, there will likely be an appeal filed by the loser no matter what Sparks ultimately decides, which could stretch this case out considerably.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
House Of Cards
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development dumped on Houston’s subsidized housing situation in a blistering letter last week, and found the city in violation of the Civil Rights Act because it lets “racially motivated opposition” from neighborhoods impact decisions on where to place low-income housing, according to the Houston Chronicle. After simmering for a while, Houston’s affordable housing problem boiled over in August when Mayor Sylvester Turner killed plans for an affordable housing project that was set to go up in the city’s affluent Galleria community amid pressure from neighborhood residents who opposed the planned homes. The housing project’s failure prompted an investigation by HUD, which ultimately found the city of Houston at fault for “blocking and deterring affordable housing proposals in integrated neighborhoods,” according to the letter. HUD has also required that Houston enact a number of changes, including developing a policy to ensure housing practices don’t foster segregation, establishing a local fair housing commission, and helping voucher recipients find housing in low-poverty neighborhoods.
Up In Smoke
Savor those cigarette drags, young Texans, because they could be your last. According to the Dallas Morning News, state lawmakers could pass legislation this year that would raise the smoking age to 21. Democrats have been angling to make it harder for young people to buy tobacco products for a while, but they were often stymied by Republicans who claimed such a move would limit personal liberty and cost the state a bunch of money in tax revenue. Proposed bills that would raise the smoking age failed over and over again in the past decade or so, but this time might be different, considering there’s actually bipartisan support behind a bill that would make Texas just the third state to increase its smoking age beyond nineteen-years-old. No bill has been filed so far, but several lawmakers plan to file one, according to the Morning News: Representative John Zerwas, a Republican from Richmond and a physician; Representative Donna Howard, a Democrat from Austin; Senator Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston; and Senator Carlos Uresti, a Democrat from San Antonio. “We have as good a chance as we’ve ever had,” Uresti told the Morning News.
Agony Of Defeat
Both of Texas’s NFL teams were eliminated from the NFL playoffs over the weekend. After sneaking into the postseason and emerging victorious from one of the worst wild card-round matchups in the history of the game, the Houston Texans took on the vaunted New England Patriots on Saturday night. They had a respectable performance, pressuring Patriots quarterback Tom Brady into throwing two interceptions, according to the Houston Chronicle. Alas, things fell apart for Houston late in the game—Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler threw three picks in the second half—and the Pats prevailed, 34-16. In Dallas on Sunday, the Cowboys fell to Green Bay in a real heartbreaker. The Cowboys stormed back from an 18-point deficit in the first half and a 15-point hole to start the fourth quarter, but the Packers jammed the nail into the coffin when kicker Mason Crosby drilled a 51-yard game-winning field goal as time expired, according to the Associated Press. The loss is particularly devastating for Cowboys fans, considering the team was considered a favorite to reach the Super Bowl in Houston. But with both Texas teams out of the picture, ticket prices for the big game have now dropped about twenty percent, according to KHOU.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Pasadena’s elections will be under federal oversight until 2023 due to Latino voting rights violations Houston Chronicle
Corpus Christi’s mayor appears to be having himself a minor freakout Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Meet “Tiny” Meeker, the gym rat from Kingwood who can bench press 1,102 pounds KHOU
You can now buy yourself some “Slam Duncan-O’s” at H-E-B San Antonio Express-News
The Mesquite police department added cowboy hats to its uniforms CBS DFW