QUOTE OF THE DAY
“God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un.”
—Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, to CBN News. The outspoken conservative pastor of downtown Dallas’s First Baptist Church is one of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisers.
The Texas House gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a bill that would ban most insurance coverage for women seeking abortions, according to the Texas Tribune. House Bill 214 requires women to pay an additional insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover abortions for any reason other than a medical emergency. Democrats fought to include exceptions for cases of fetal abnormalities, rape, or incest, but Republicans wouldn’t budge. After three-and-a-half hours of debate, the bill passed 95 to 51, and will now head to the Senate, which approved a similar piece of legislation last month. The bill’s author, Amarillo Republican Representative John Smithee, said the bill protects people who are anti-abortion from having to subsidize abortion through their insurance plans. “This isn’t about who can get an abortion,” Smithee said, according to the Tribune. “It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion.” Critics of the bill, meanwhile, say it forces women to decide whether they want to pay for what Fort Worth Representative Chris Turner, a Democrat, referred to as “rape insurance.” “Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” Turner said, according to the Tribune. “Asking a woman or a parent to foresee something like that and buy supplemental insurance to cover that horrific possibility is not only ridiculous, it is cruel.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Some Houston schools are in such bad shape that the state might have to step in and take over, according to the Houston Chronicle. Unless thirteen struggling schools show improvement, Houston ISD could fall under the jurisdiction of state-appointed managers as early as next year, Texas Education Agency officials warned at a meeting Monday with Houston’s legislative delegation. Only one of those thirteen historically failing schools needs to receive failing accountability marks in 2017 and again in 2018 to trigger state oversight of the entire district. As an alternative, the TEA could also just take over individual campuses. Houston ISD isn’t alone in that respect—according to the Chronicle, 46 independent school districts across the state could face potential state takeovers, thanks to a law passed by the Lege in 2015 that targets schools that have been in “improvement required” status for five or more years, as of the 2018 to 2019 school year. As the Chronicle notes, it’s not a new concept for the state to take control of failing school districts and individual schools, but it’s never been done on a scale as large as HISD, which, with more than 210,000 students at over 280 schools, is the seventh-largest school district in the country.
Making The Rounds
Upstart Senate candidate U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke drew a big crowd during his tour of the High Plains, meeting with a crowd of nearly 500 people at a middle school in Amarillo on Tuesday, according to KAMR. The El Paso Democrat spoke at Austin Middle School, touching on subjects ranging from veterans’ issues to the economy. It marked O’Rourke’s fourth visit to the Amarillo since he launched his campaign to challenge Senator Ted Cruz in March. “Being in Amarillo for a fourth time this year is just another reminder that first and foremost we’re Americans,” O’Rourke said at the campaign event, according to KAMR. “We’re Texans. We want to do right by each other. Right for this state and the right things for this country. That’s the way [my wife] Amy and I feel. That’s what’s brought us back to Amarillo again.”
H-E-B is making a move on Whole Foods territory in Houston. According to the Houston Chronicle, H-E-B is under contract to buy property in the Upper Kirby neighborhood—specifically, a plot of land that sits directly across the street from a Whole Foods Market. Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B Houston, told the Chronicle on Tuesday that the company is in a due diligence phase with the property, but offered no additional details on the company’s possible plans for the site. As the Chronicle notes, H-E-B has been very busy in Houston lately, with an urban prototype store under construction in a mixed-used development on the city’s busy Washington Avenue. The 96,000-square foot behemoth will include a walk-up coffee and food concept topped with 230 fancy apartments and a few floors of office space. H-E-B is also planning a new location in the Houston Heights neighborhood.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Texas Democrats don’t really have any candidates for governor Austin American-Statesman
Another United Airlines controversy, this time involving a dead family dog in a cargo hold Dallas Morning News
Teen birth rates jumped up in Texas after Planned Parenthood was defunded Houston Chronicle
An eighteen-year-old is running for city council in Rowlett WFAA
A mom in El Paso was granted a six-month stay of deportation to be with her daughter, who is undergoing cancer treatment El Paso Times