The State of Texas: December 9, 2015
Sid Miller gets deep fried at a Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing, and Abbott goes to Washington to plead his anti-refugee case.
Quote of the Day
“It’s an ugly baby, but it’s my baby.”
Texas by the Numbers
Domestic Issues — Number of Texas women killed by their current or past domestic partner in 2012: 114. The following year: 119. Last year: 132. County with the most death: Harris. Number: 23. Second-highest counties: Dallas and Tarrant. Number: 10.
Our Cuban Crisis — Increase of Cuban refugees from last year: 78 percent. Total so far in 2015: 43,150. Portion that arrived at Texas port-of-entries: 67 percent. Number: 29,100.
Sorta Armed and Ready — Our rank among most-armed states: 18th. Number of guns for every 1,000 residents: 12.8. Number of registered firearms: 337,309. Highest rank state: Wyoming. Number of guns for every 1,000 people: 195.7.
Taking Action — Ready for another round of arguing about if universities should be allowed to dictate who gets accepted (even when they’re white kids who don’t meet basic qualifications)? On Wednesday the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas II, concerning, of course, UT-Austin applicant Abigail Fisher and her quest to squash affirmative action and race considerations when it comes to schooling. CNN calls it “possibly the most consequential case concerning race this year” for SCOTUS. Reviewing the history of the case (it’s some pretty solid background and context for those needing to catch up and what to look forward to), CNN writes that in 2012 “the justices heard arguments and then said nothing for eight months. Ultimately, they issued a narrow opinion sending the case back down to a lower court for another look. The short opinion was indicative that the justices are deeply divided on the issue.” Really, no one’s sure what will happen. The National Journal asks “Is This The End of Affirmative Action?” though the answer to those question headlines is usually no. Meanwhile, The Atlantic keeps on eye on future efforts post-Fisher, writing that “today’s debate isn’t so much about whether racial and ethnic diversity is an important and desirable goal. Most people of good will agree that it is. The debate, instead, has shifted to the questions of how universities achieve diversity.”
Miller Time — Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller finally arrived hat in hand (quite literally) to answer for his exuberance while he’s raising fees. The Commish “faced tough questions from lawmakers Tuesday over his plan to hike fees for a host of licenses, registrations and services that his agency provides,” according to the Texas Tribune. In other words, he got a real grilling (or perhaps he was deep fried?). One lawmaker said she was “boiling” over issue—she also used the phrase “choke-a-horse,” which isn’t exactly kosher. Alright, enough with the food puns. “Miller, a Republican finishing his first year leading the Texas Department of Agriculture, largely stuck to his guns, insisting that his ‘hemorrhaging’ agency had to raise more than $22 million through fee increases or neglect services.” Concerning some of his publicity stunts (including a very divisive Facebook page) and proposals, some legislators apparently told “Miller to work on his communication skills.” As the Tribune so accurately notes, Miller was a rodeo cowboy, so he’s used to putting on a show. After the hearing, Miller didn’t really change his tune. “We will be going forward with the fee increases,” he told reporters. Giddy up.
Coalition of the Unwilling — The dynamic Texas duo teamed up yesterday at our nation’s capitol to keep out Muslims (or perceived Muslims). In a move that probably had something to do with Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign (it apparently sounded pretty similar to a campaign event), Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott held a joint press conference in Washington, D.C. to push back against the federal government’s effort to accept Syrian refugees. “Cruz also rejected GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, though – unlike many presidential contenders in both parties – he refrained from calling out Trump as a bigot,” writes the Dallas Morning News, though there’s no mention of his previous statements that it’d be totes cool if just Christians come in. Abbott has recently been fighting with the federal government over its refugee resettlement efforts and “seated next to Cruz in a U.S. Capitol conference room, the governor insisted that the state should have the ability to opt out of refugee resettlement – an authority contained in a bill Cruz is filing today.” Cruz is actually pushing three different pieces of legislation. “One would impose a 3-year moratorium on refugees from countries such as Iraq and Syria that have substantial areas controlled by ISIS or another terror group. Another, filed today, would grant governors the authority to refuse refugees – giving states a partial veto over foreign policy. … The third Cruz-backed bill, stymied so far by Democrats, would strip U.S. citizenship from anyone who fights alongside foreign jihadists.”