The State of Texas: August 12, 2014
Just in time for football season, the Jell-O company has released a line of molds for both Texas A&M and UT fans (and fourteen other schools). The molds are for the kiddos and not, as the Dallas Morning News headline succinctly states, “totally not for alcohol.”
Video of the Day
To the shock of fans around the world, Robin Williams went to that big standup stage in the sky yesterday. There’s already been plenty of tributes, but things got local with a 1982 interview between Williams and DFW NBC’s Bobbie Wygant. Watch Williams do his best Texas accent and discuss doing serious roles.
Censured — How anti-climatic! In a 28-page decision, the House transparency committee voted (six-to-one) to censure Hall for “misconduct and incompetency,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. As the Statesman notes, the committee that’s been dragging this controversy around didn’t exactly calling for all-out blood, since that might rock too many boats. “In censuring Hall rather than seeking his impeachment, the panel appeared to have found a middle ground between inaction and impeachment that reflected a certain political calculation.” So that settles it, right? Not quite. The powers that be also said they reserve the right to impeach Hall in the future. Why the committee decided to spend all that time and money on a decision that came just shy of historical impeachment is unclear. Was he on to something when he called for investigating UT’s admissions practices? As the Dallas Morning News reports, “a risk consulting firm that investigates internal fraud, has started its investigation into the admissions process at the University of Texas at Austin … tasked with determining whether the flagship’s admissions decisions have been made with undue influence.”
Boiling Water — If Texas had a rainstorm every time the state tussled with the Environmental Protection Agency, Amarillo would look like the Amazon. In what the Statesman calls a precursor to yet another water war with the EPA, “Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back down from a proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways.” Abbott wrote that the proposal is “without adequate scientific and economic justification and, if finalized, would erode private property rights and have devastating effects on the landowners of Texas.” The EPA seems confident it has plenty of scientific evidence—namely waste companies, subdivision developments, and the like polluting the waterways that serve some Texans with drinking water.
The Rapture Ate My Homework — Texas may not be a big fan of regulation, but not even the Lord can save you from education requirements. Texas’s Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled last week that El Paso “parents who allegedly stopped homeschooling their kids because they believed Jesus Christ was returning to Earth were not exempt from state education regulations,” according to Raw Story. The parents had apparently pulled their kids from a private school, opting to homeschool their children. In what sounds like the start of an Old Testament story, the father’s twin brother testified that he “overhead one of the … children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.” Homeschooling advocates are wary of the decision. They “challenged the right of the state to investigate the curriculum which they utilized.” It proves that “no parents [are] completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements. They do not have an ‘absolute constitutional right to home school.’”
Unexpected Kickback — “In an unexpected uproar, gun rights organizations are pushing back against a proposed Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rule change that would allow the sale of alcohol at some gun shows,” reports the Texas Tribune. The push-back is less about the potential dangers of drinking in the vicinity of firearms and more a concern that “the rules could have calamitous unintended consequences for the industry.” Those unintended consequences could include chamber of commerce dinners unable to both serve wine and auction off a gun or forcing salesman at gun shows to dissemble every gun. For its part, TABC is pleading some firearm ignorance with regard to the questionable language—”an unintentional oversight.” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, one of the most high-profile gun supporters in the state, seemed to hint at some other, more devious plan afoot: “My question is, What are we trying to fix?”