The State of Texas: April 1, 2014
Quiz of the Day
NPR is getting into the Buzzfeedy thing with its own quiz. Fortunately, this one, “The Strange Town Names Of Texas,” is a bit more entertaining (and educational!) than “Which Dallas Character Are You?”
Just Business — On Monday, “[s]ome of the state’s top trade associations joined the Partnership for a New American Economy, a non-partisan group that lobbies Congress to change U.S. immigration laws to create a legal status for those working in the country illegally and a guest worker program to meet future needs,” according to the AP. This new pro-immigration group includes retailers, restaurants, hotels and farmers who say there’s a shortage of low-skill workers, for which immigrants are often a solution. That is to say, money talks and, apparently, it’s bilingual. Whether the group wants to treat these newly-minted American Dreamers with common decency (i.e. a proper wage, benefits, safe working conditions) is up for debate. But for now, the coalition sounds incredibly, shockingly reasonable. “It is really time that we step back from the rhetoric and look at the substance that is being proposed,” said the CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “We would want to see, at the very least, a legal status so that that workforce can come out of the shadows.”
Testing, Testing — Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott launched his educational proposals Monday in Weslaco. Abbott started things off, appopriately, with a discussion about Pre-K. “Abbott’s plan … proposes providing an additional $1,500 per student on top of the funding the state already provides for half-day pre-K programs if the program meets performance requirements set by the state,” according to the Texas Tribune. Will those “performance requirements” be testing requirements? For five-year-olds? More importantly, however, the proposal “flies in the face of state Sen. Wendy Davis’s proposal for increased access to full-day pre-kindergarten programs,” writes the Tribune. Davis annouced that proposal in February. The CliffsNotes version: Abbott would like to spend $1,500 more on the toddlers who are already chewing on classroom-issued crayons, as opposed to Davis who thinks more kids in general should have the chance to get their hands on those classroom Crayolas.
Lone Discriminate State — We’re number one! Unfortunately, it’s in the discrimination department. “Texas led the nation last year in the number of workplace harassment and discrimination cases filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),” according to the San Antonio Business Journal. Texas had 9,068 such filings with the EEOC. And we’re not in good company, either. Florida was the runner-up. The “most frequently cited basis for charges of discrimination,” according to the piece, was retaliation. On the bright-side, the EEOC saw a 5.7 percent decrease in cases from the year before and “[f]or the fourth year in a row, the EEOC says it was able to resolve more charges of discrimination than it took in.” So, as long as you’re not a Texas woman in either the private sector or government looking for equal pay (too soon?), things may be looking up.
Final Decision — It looks as if Texas is set to execute yet another foreigner. “The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review the case of a 44-year-old Mexican national set to die next week for the beating to death of a man who employed him at his Kerrville-area ranch,” according to the AP. And in a related case, the man’s attorney’s “are arguing in state courts the Texas prison system should be forced to identify a new source of pentobarbital used to execute him. Texas prison officials want the provider’s name kept secret.” So there are two dark issues. This latest foreigner execution (set for April 9) has gone largely unnoticed save for the AP’s short item. It’s a bit of a contrast from the last time a Mexican citizen was executed, back in January. In that case, a former state governor, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Mexico itself all publicly pleaded with Texas to spare the needle. On a man who was a convicted cop-killer. Is the execution of foreigners in Texas now just accepted as a given?