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The State of Texas: April 8, 2014

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Image of the Day

When you’re in space, it’s Texas’s city lights that are big and bright. The cosmic portrait below comes from astronaut Scott Kelly who took the photos “250 miles above the Earth in the International Space Station,” according to the Houston Chronicle

Texas By The Numbers

For Richer or Poorer – Amount a Plano man estimated he must “pay” his housewife, per year, for child care: $36,660. For cleaning: $5,200. For cooking: $12,480. Total: $73,690. Husband’s conclusion: “I cannot afford my wife.” Solution: Show her more love.

And Still They Come – Total number of badge-holding attendees at SXSW this year: 84,385. Figure from 2014: 79,536. Increase: 6 percent. Increase for music portion: 8.2 percent. For film: 8 percent. For interactive: 3.1 percent.

Daily Roundup

Freedom From Support – Who would have thought Texas could be considered too conservative for conservatives? The state seems to have found its breaking point with legislation comparable to Indiana’s religious freedom law. The Texas Association of Business, “one of Texas’ most influential business organizations, joined the Lone Star state’s gay and lesbian community and civil rights activists to denounce similar measures under consideration by Texas lawmakers,” writes the Houston Business Journal. “The fear, from a business perspective, is that the bills would open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians in the marketplace and hit businesses where it counts: in their pocketbooks.” Perhaps the biggest conservative name to come out against the various antigay bills floating around the Lege is Bill Hammond, the chief executive officer of TAB. As R. G. Ratcliffe detailed on Burkablog yesterday, you couldn’t pick a more stalwart conservative than Hammond. “Probably few people in the state are more responsible for turning the Legislature Republican” than Hammond, who was, among many things, “chairman of Governor George W. Bush’s Texas Workforce Commission.” And few, it would seem, are more committed to the state’s growth, as evidenced by Hammond’s statement: “We’re looking for good public policy across the board. We look at what is good for Texas, and the politics be damned.” ​

Welcome to Beautiful … Juárez – El Paso’s sister city, Juárez, is making its biggest push with a tourist campaign and new slogan: “Juárez Is Waiting for You,” according to the El Paso Times. “The latest campaign is a continuation of an effort Juárez officials started a year ago to rebrand the city, which is now pretty much void of the vicious drug cartel war that hampered the city for several years.” This year’s effort ifocused on showing the world the progress Juárez has undergone in the last year,” like improved roads, sidewalks, and business buildings. As the story notes, last year’s slogan was “Juárez: The Gateway to Mexico, Where You Will Make Friends.” This week might be the perfect time to go, as temperatures in Juárez will top out at 85 degrees. Just watch out for, um, quirky local customs near the unveiling of tourist-aimed murals.

Bidi Bidi Ka-Ching Ching – A little more than a week before the Selena-themed festival in Corpus Christi, the family of the late singer has made some headlines for more serious business. “The estate of Selena Quintanilla has sued the late pop star’s record label UMG Recordings, Inc., alleging that the company shortchanged the estate of millions in digital royalties,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. “The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that UMG Recordings violated two 1993 agreements by licensing digital music services, such as iTunes, to sell the Latin singer’s music without providing Selena’s estate with half of the revenue.” It’s no small lawsuit either. While there’s no figure stated, the estate’s lawyer says that the record label could owe the family about $3 million since 2009.

An Uber-Mess – It seems everyone’s trying to make sense of the Brave New Technology taking over the streets of Texas and the country. For an eye-opener at how much app-based driving companies are beating traditional taxis, look no further than a recent study that found that, nationally, “Uber jumped from being used for 15 percent of expensed business rides in March 2014 to 47 percent a year later” and that “Dallas is one of two metropolitan areas where Uber was used more than taxis and the like during the first quarter of 2015,” according to the Dallas Morning News. And yet, the average ride is still cheaper than a traditional Taxi. As Texas Monthly’s own Dan Solomon noted earlier this week, Uber and its ilk are pushing very hard for acceptance by local governments weary of any such company operating without regulatory (read: money-making) oversight. Not only are they lobbying for positive legislation, but “Uber’s no stranger to imploring its customers to treat crafting a favorable regulatory framework as a civil rights issue.” One kink in the plan (apart from the CEO occasionally being tone-deaf) is the really bad press that seems to be mounting. Last week, a Houston Uber driver, recently released from prison for an unrelated crime, was arrested for sexual assault on a passenger. While taxi drivers are certainly not immune to such predatory actions, the “unregulated” nature of such app services seems to scare the daylights out of people, which companies like Uber are responding to in-kind. As Solomon notes, “It’s unclear at the moment which way the wind is blowing on [state legislation] … but so far, for the most part, what Uber wants, Uber gets.”

Clickity Bits

Blame Swarms of Caterpillars for Houston Power Outages

How Long Can Health Commissioner Kyle Janek Last? 

Blue Bell Rings Its Warning Bell Yet Again

Judge Refuses to Lift Order for Obama Administration in Immigration Case

Longreads: How an FBI Agent Took Down a Cartel’s Horse-Racing Empire

Police Seek Man Who Stole Peacock From Dallas Neighborhood

Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet @TexasMonthly and @ThatWinkler.

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