Texas Lege Clears Path for Uber and Lyft Throughout Texas Cities: Your Texas Roundup
Plus: Baylor football gets hit with another Title IX lawsuit, a Houston Democrat calls for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor in D.C., and yogurt defeats Alex Jones.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“When I first met Michelle, I was overwhelmed by the number of jobs she seems to handle and handle well. I asked her to list her jobs for me and she said, ‘mother, bounty hunter, skip tracer, and private investigator.’ But what I super appreciated most was that she listed first, mother.”
—Filmmaker Daniel Ostroff to the Houston Chronicle. Ostroff is making a documentary about Michelle Gomez, a private investigator in Lockhart. At four-foot-eleven, Gomez doesn’t look the part of a bounty hunter, but she still gets the job done.
The Texas Senate passed legislation that would override local regulations on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, clearing the way for their return to places like Austin. Some Texas cities have bumped heads with Uber and Lyft over their reluctance to provide specific background checks for drivers, particularly fingerprinting, and when Austin voters passed an ordinance requiring the latter, Uber and Lyft left town in a huff. The ride-hailing services left a few other Texas cities for similar reasons, including Corpus Christi, Midland, and Galveston. Additionally, Lyft left Houston, and Uber threatened to leave the city but ultimately decided to stay and submit to stricter fingerprinting regulations. But both companies said Wednesday that they’d be back in Austin as soon as Governor Greg Abbott signs House Bill 100, which is expected to happen fairly quickly. Shortly after the Senate pass HB 100, Abbott tweeted, “Buckle up,” adding that his signature is “Coming soon.” It’s a huge win for Uber and Lyft. In a statement to the Austin American-Statesman after HB 100 passed, an Uber spokesperson said the new law “will help bring greater economic opportunity and expanded access to safe, reliable transportation options to more Texans. We look forward to making Uber available in more cities across Texas.” Austin officials were less than thrilled. “I’m disappointed that the Legislature chose to nullify the bedrock principles of self-governance and limited government by imposing regulations on our city over the objection of Austin voters,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement, according to the Statesman. “Our city should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin’s values.” The bill that passed the Senate also includes a strange amendment that defines “sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female,” courtesy of state Representatives Tony Tinderholt, a Republican from Arlington, and Briscoe Cain, a Republican from Deer Park. That, of course, has nothing to do with ride-hailing services, but it’s in there anyway.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Title IX Trouble
Baylor’s sexual assault crisis continued on Wednesday when a former student filed a Title IX lawsuit—the seventh filed so far against the university—alleging she was gang raped in 2012 by a group of football players. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the lawsuit alleges that the football team traditionally hazed freshman recruits by making them bring freshman girls to parties to be drugged and gang-raped—”or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls,” the suit says. The rapes would then allegedly be photographed and videotaped, and the plaintiff alleges that at least one 21-second videotape of two Baylor students being gang-raped by football players had been shared. According to the lawsuit, players considered the rapes a “bonding experience.” According to the lawsuit, the victim, who played volleyball at Baylor, was raped by eight football players, and after she was raped she said she heard someone yell “Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!” The lawsuit says the alleged rape was brought to the attention of an assistant football coach, who did nothing in response.
U.S. Representative Al Green, from Houston, took to the House floor on Wednesday to formally call for the impeachment of Donald Trump. Green had already called for Trump’s impeachment via a statement released earlier in the week, but according to the Houston Chronicle Green is the first member of Congress to take that position to the House floor. The Democrat certainly didn’t pull any punches. “I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America for obstruction of justice,” Green said, according to the Texas Tribune. “I do not do this for political purposes… I do this because I believe in the great ideals this country stands for: liberty and justice for all.” Green said Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice for his role in firing former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. “Our democracy is at risk,” Green said. “This offense has occurred before our very eyes.”
The blows keep coming for Alex Jones. First, the infamous conspiracy theorist lost custody of his kids in a highly contentious and highly publicized court battle against his ex-wife. Now, he’s lost to a bacteria-filled dairy product. Jones was sued for defamation last month by Greek yogurt giant Chobani, stemming from content published by Jones and his show Infowars that falsely linked Chobani to child rape and a tuberculosis outbreak near its plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jones had originally talked a big game against the yogurt company in the face of its lawsuit. “You just ran into a Texan,” Jones said a few weeks ago. “So you get ready because we’re never backing down and our audience is never backing down.” But he did back down, agreeing to retract his statements in order to settle the suit. “During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani LLC that I now understand to be wrong,” Jones said. “The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted. On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Is the Texas shrimping industry dead? Beaumont Enterprise
ICE arrests have risen 38 percent in the first three months of Trump’s presidency New York Times
An absentee ballot fraud scandal has rocked Grand Prairie WFAA
A father searches for answers after his son’s death at Fort Hood Dallas Morning News
Firefighters are still recovering from the deadly Texas Panhandle blaze in March Amarillo Globe-News