A Lotto Questions — Boy, when the Texas officials don’t like something they sure do circle the wagons. But when they want a piece of the action, they’ll go to some pretty great lengths to make sure they get what they want. In this latest case, the issue is over the fantasy sports betting, a contentious issue across the country. Basically the Texas Lottery Commission was saying one thing, and doing quite the opposite. “More than 400 pages of emails … directly contradict the agency’s contention that it was only considering traditional lottery draw and scratch-off games,” details the Dallas Morning News, which obtained the documents under Texas public records laws. “The records include discussions with fantasy sports lobbyists and show that Grief wanted a contract with DraftKings, one of two companies at the center of a national controversy over the games.” In fact, the commission’s Executive Director Gary Grief had been “aggressively” pursuing fantasy sports, “prodding his staff to quickly nail down a plan to get Texas in on the action. And when an insider betting scandal erupted in the industry, Grief embarked on a plan to bring the games — which some consider an illegal form of gambling — under the lottery commission’s umbrella.” Keep in mind, the revelation of just how intent officials were pursuing options comes only two months after Governor Greg Abbott instructed the commission to stop pursuing the possibility of expanding its gambling operations, which they said they did. Any bets on if somebody’s gonna get in trouble? Be sure read the whole, extensive piece.
The New Birthers — Isn’t politics just the great? Never able to quite pin down the birther attacks on President Barack Obama, a Texas lawyer is now going after Ted Cruz on the same issue. Newton Schwartz, a trial lawyer from Cruz’s hometown of Houston, has filed a federal lawsuit in the matter. “Newton Schwartz asked the Supreme Court in a 28-page complaint to decide whether Cruz – who was born in Calgary, Alberta to an American mother and a Cuban father – would be violating the Constitution’s ‘natural born citizen’ requirement if he won the presidency,” writes Fox News. For his part, Schwartz says he’s just doing the work of justice. “Schwartz said that while Cruz should have himself taken the issue to court earlier, he believes that his suit will help settle the issue once and for all. ‘Good politics would have been to take it to a court in Houston to decide that he is a citizen,’ he said. ‘It would have been better to have gotten it done early than a few weeks before the Iowa caucus.'” Could the whole story possibly get stranger? Absolutely! “Mr. Schwartz said [sic] has voted for Republican presidential candidates in the past including Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, but he describes himself as a likely supporter of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in this election,” according to the Wall Street Journal. As the story notes, it’s an uphill battle from there. “Mr. Schwartz must now convince a judge he has standing, or the right, to bring the case and then that he has raised an issue the court must decide. He claims he has standing based on his eligibility as a voter in the Texas presidential primary and the November general election.”
Over-Prescribed? — Texas is still booming, from the housing market to population. But the Texas Tribune takes an interesting look at another, largely overlooked, area that may be seeing too much growth: medical schools. “The number of medical students in Texas has grown quickly in recent years, with classes expanding and an unprecedented number of new medical schools being developed. But even as it invests tens of millions of dollars in new schools, some state lawmakers warn Texas could end up shooting itself in the foot,” according to the piece. “Because it does not adequately fund the residency programs needed to keep medical students here, they say, the state is effectively creating an expensive pipeline that will funnel doctors elsewhere.” Unlike, say, the unmonitored and unregulated oil booms, lawmakers are actually looking at ways to help solve the problem. As the story notes, though the medical schools help “build prestige” and can “dramatically improve local economies and health care systems,” the demands to fund residency slots, facility, and all those pesky things like malpractice insurance could end up being a strain. Then again, Texas could use some intensive care. The state is suffering a doctor shortage and is currently 41st in the country when it comes to the number of physicians. Although lawmakers have been making efforts to retain new Doogie Howsers, they’re still playing catch-up to the expansions by universities.