The State of Texas: April 7, 2015
Photo of the Day
The only way this photo, recently posted on Facebook, could be any more Texan is if one of the riders was holding a football and his name was Sam Houston.
I Won’t Back Down – This song goes out to embattled University of Texas regent Wallace Hall, who, despite being threatened with impeachment and the subject of a grand jury investigation is still up to his old tricks. The regents are having a special meeting Wednesday to consider two admissions-related requests made by Hall. The first request is “to meet with Bill Nugent of Kroll Associates Inc. to quiz him about the company’s report on admissions practices at the flagship campus,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The second request is to review ‘any and all information, confidential and otherwise, that is related to the Kroll investigation that was originally slated for destruction but is now held as part of any’ open records request.” Following Hall’s barrage of requests last year and the subsequent investigation surrounding him, the Kroll report found that UT—specifically exiting president Bill Powers—did indeed accept a “select handful” of applicants over the objections of the admissions office. As the Texas Tribune notes, “Hall’s request is the only item scheduled to be discussed during the open portion.”
What DREAMs May Come – It seems the whole nation is watching as Texas, the first state to pass the DREAM Act, a revolutionary policy that allowed undocumented immigrant students access to in-state college tuition rates, considers dropping the whole dang thing. A state Senate subcommittee hearing on the legislation continued through “the midnight hour as dozens of witnesses testified against the bill” that would repeal the legislation enacted in 2001, according to the Texas Tribune. The hardliner anti-immigration proponents say the act encourages illegal immigration. But witnesses, including Higher Education Coordinating Board commissioner Raymund Paredes, disagreed and even pointed to some serious financial benefits, including $51.6 million in tuition and fees paid by those undocumented students. With the state’s version of the DREAM Act in the news, former governor Rick Perry is back in the spotlight, with his support for the fourteen-year-old legislation “that could put him in hot water with conservatives who want to see stricter controls on illegal immigration and enforcement of the country’s immigration laws,” according to a super-speculative piece on CNN. He might just tell his detractors that they “have no heart.”
Tangled – Since Texas legislators have successfully untangled all other problems related to the state, they’re now focused on how to best regulate, govern, and generally get in the way of hairstyling efforts. Isis Brantley, the woman who won in federal court after fighting requirements that her hair-braiding activities follow the same rigorous (and expensive) process as barbershops and beauty colleges do, spoke to state legislators on Monday. At issue is a bill that would “eliminate state regulation of Brantley’s craft, allowing hair braiding without a license,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “The bill is pending in committee.” It not exactly clear who might be fighting against the bill (the barbershop regulation lobby?) but “after Monday’s hearing, Brantley said she hoped the deregulation bill would pass so she could finally move on and others could start thriving businesses.” The same sentiment is no doubt shared by many Texans with concerns bigger than the way in which this stylist gets her Havana Twists done.
Rake Against the Machine – A Grand Prairie man is currently serving a seventeen-day jail sentence, having turned himself in after a warrant was issued last year for his failure to pay $1,700 in fines for—wait for it—failing to mow his lawn. Local law enforcement would prefer people not think of this as excessive. “‘I can assure you our city would never simply place a citizen in jail for failing to mow their grass,’ said Officer Mark Beseda with the Grand Prairie Police Department,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Except the violations include things like “overhanging tree limbs,” “dilapidated wood fence,” and “high grass.” The officer said “city code enforcement officers, responding to neighbor complaints, had visited [the man’s] home 32 times since 1996, issuing 59 violations and six citations for the lawn” and even offered to assist in the pruning. For the record, the city is defending the punishment because it’s in the “best interests of everyone in the neighborhood to retain a high quality of life for all in the community.” The city will spend about $1,000 to jail the man for those seventeen days.