The State of Texas: April 2, 2015
Headline of the Day
— This was not an April Fools’ joke.
Want to know what the law and punishment for texting while driving is in your city? The Texas Tribune has put together an easy-to-use reference guide.
Shacked Up – Radioshack, the bankrupt and antiquated business that refuses to die, has been revived. Sort of. Earlier this week, a bankruptcy judge signed off on the sale of the company to a “New York hedge fund,” as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram put it. And right after the sale, Sprint “revealed plans to co-brand 1,500 stores with its name and store-within-a-store concept,” writes the Dallas Business Journal. It really is like propping up a dead body too. “The model will use RadioShack’s existing mobile fixtures for Sprint-branded sales. Each store’s signage will feature a prominent Sprint logo and a smaller, but easily visible, RadioShack logo. The newly-branded spaces would open on April 10.”
The Never-Ending Debate – It sounds like a living hell, but after an eighteen-hour debate that went well into early Wednesday morning, the House finally approved a state budget. Perhaps we should be thankful there was such an effort, as the two-year budget is a whopping $210 billion. This is not to suggest everything was sussed out. The spending plan “leaves billions of available dollars unspent . . . and does not address several key items, including billions of dollars’ worth of deferred maintenance at crumbling state facilities,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. As with any argument of this size and importance, everyone still had quibbles. Democrats were angry about that unspent money as well as abortion and abstinence measures “tucked into the budget,” according to the Associated Press. And with the final tally, “the same five tea party Republicans cast no votes.” The show’s not over, either. Now the Senate gets to look forward to its own arduous journey, likely to be just as difficult as Atreyu’s in The NeverEnding Story.
Presidential Aspirations – Seeing how we have at least one confirmed Republican presidential candidate (and others who are likely to announce too), it makes sense that Texas cities are also crowding the field when it comes to possible sites for the debates. The three hopefuls include McAllen, College Station (Texas A&M), and Houston (Houston Community College). “They are among 16 sites across the country vying for the opportunity to hold a debate during the general election,” according to the Texas Tribune. Fittingly, New York—with just two sites—is the only other state with multiple entries. The Texas cities aren’t going on their good looks alone. “Texas A&M . . . is focusing its bid on the opportunities for civic engagement a debate could offer a state with historically low voter turnout. Houston Community College is specifically offering the commission its Central College in Houston’s Midtown district, [and a McAllen representative] said the city has been ‘at the epicenter of national attention for several years now’ given its proximity to the Texas-Mexico border.”
A Bad Bet – The state’s gambling laws and culture get the New York Times treatment and boy, are we a hot mess. “Despite laws saying otherwise, casinos thrive throughout the state, an underground billion-dollar industry that operates in a murky realm and engages in a perpetual cat-and-mouse game with the authorities,” according to the piece. “Lax oversight by the state and local authorities helps explain how casino gambling has become so common even in a state like Texas, which publicly and officially is keeping casinos out while quietly and unofficially allowing them to proliferate.” Reading through the story, it seems pretty clear that this is another example of prohibition of a “vice” that has failed spectacularly; many local authorities lack the ability to police the illegal gambling, which is okay since just as many seem really indifferent to the one-armed coin monsters. The piece also notes some of the criminals participating in the slot machines: sixty- and seventy-year-olds.