The State of Texas: April 22, 2015
Quote of the Day
“Yeah, well, I probably would.”
– Rick Perry on whether he would attend a gay wedding
There’s only about a month to go until the biggest Texas-themed TV event since Lonesome Dove premieres on the History channel. To tide us over, the network and the Dallas Morning News teamed up to feature the latest teaser trailer:
Texas By The Numbers
The Hiring Kind – Texas unemployment rate in March: 4.2 percent. In February: 4.3 percent. National jobless rate: 5.5 percent. Decline in Texas’s nonfarm employment jobs: 25,400. Number of jobs added in the past year: 327,500.
Whata Grocery List – Number of gallons of mustard Whataburger serves each year: 350,000. Pounds of ketchup: 17 million. Pounds of onions: 5 million. Pounds of cheese: 11 million. Sliced pickles: 580 million.
Keep Taxes Low – Greg Abbott’s federal tax rate after capital gains losses and deductions: .07 percent. The Abbott family’s gross income: $134,000. Total taxes paid: $104. Expected refund: $19,390.
Earth-Shaking Study – An article by scientists from Southern Methodist University published in the journal Nature Communications attributes the earthquakes Azle’s been experiencing to energy production efforts. Their data examination found that “wastewater injection wells and other processes” are the “most likely cause,” as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram put it, though one of the article’s author hedged, continuing, “Can we say with 100 percent certainty that these are caused by oil and gas activities? No. But if you look at the breadth of the data available, we’d argue that the most likely cause is oil and gas activity.” With this new information, will state politicians reconsider their slavish devotion to the oil and gas industry and allow cities like Azle and Denton to make their own decisions about who can gouge and drill their lands? Don’t count on it. “This adds even more support to the fact that a state agency with the scientific expertise is the entity that needs to be regulating those type of wells,” said Azle-area Republican representative Phil King, according to the Dallas Morning News. In light of this ongoing battle between local municipalities and a controlling state government, Governor Abbott offered some rather head-scratching rhetoric. Speaking at a liberty-themed dinner yesterday, Abbott said, “We have to fight our way through a thicket of growing government oppression using liberty as both the saber that will cut the pathway clear, as well as the compass that will point the direction in which we are to go.” He was clearly not talking about town-specific fracking bans. In that case, big brother apparently knows best.
Sibling Rivalries – The honeymoon period for our new legislators seems to be over. First, there are some fissures cropping up between Governor Greg Abbott and Lite Guv Dan Patrick. On Tuesday, a “citizen advisor committee” that Patrick put together after he was elected sent a letter to Greg Abbott blasting his plan to enhance pre-kindergarten programs, calling it a “threat to parental rights,” and, railing, most ridiculously, against the program’s “godless environment.” But Patrick denies that he knew anything about the letter, saying “in an emailed statement that he had not seen the letter before it was sent and noted that he supported ‘a pre-K program,’ without giving any details about what that might look like.” The proxy fight continued with Representative Dennis Bonnen, a “key member of the Texas House’s Republican leadership,” as the Texas Tribune puts it, who’s had a mutual, longtime relationship with the governor. Bonnen told the Tribune that “for some reason, Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor, wants to bring the same bad Washington, always-politically gaming concepts to Austin instead of solving problems.” This oh-snap comment came after the Senate, the chamber Patrick leads, pushed through its own border security bill, even though Bonnen’s had been there first. Other representatives are also a little unsure why their bills are being put on ice—a trio of bills “have been sitting idle in the Senate.” Perhaps this is Patrick’s attempt at a Texas version of House of Cards?
Spillage – The State Aquarium, which inadvertantly killed a large number of fish earlier this month, are attributing the disaster to a “grossly mislabeled container,” as the Corpus Christi Caller-Times put it. Attempting to treat the water for a parasite, officials first tested the product they were going to use. Unfortunately, “this gave workers the confidence to apply what they believed was the same chemical from a different but identically labeled container to treat parasites in the aquarium’s two largest exhibits.” Instead, officials accidentally added what sounds like the worst possible chemical, a “highly toxic industrial agent … used for film processing and as an additive to paint and fuels” and “a known carcinogen.” The resulting disaster killed off about four hundred large and small fish, “about 13 percent of its entire collection,” notes Yahoo! News. The accident, however, showed just how tight a school the aquatic community swims in. “Aquariums from the United States, Canada and as far away as Singapore have offered support and condolences over what was one of the most significant losses of marine life in the aquarium’s history.”