The State of Texas: July 16, 2014
Facts of the Day
It’s not exactly Better Call Saul but the Houston Chronicle has a helpful slideshow answering some of your more pressing law questions, including the legality surrounding picking bluebonnets and riding in a truck bed.
Texas By The Numbers
Too Fancy For The Locals — Marfa’s peak population, in 1945: 5,000. Current population: less than 1,900. County property tax collected before this summer’s reappraisal: $563 million. After reappraisal: $1.14 billion. Last year’s market value of home of one long-time resident: $60,850. This year $120,290. Most expensive home listing: $735,000.
Green Candidates — Amount Greg Abbott raised in the latest campaign finance cycle: $11.1 million. Amount Wendy Davis raised: $11.2 million. Abbott’s reported cash-on-hand cash: $36 million. Davis’s cash-on-hand: $13.1 million. Average Davis contribution: $105.25. Percentage of Davis contributions that were for less than $50: 75 percent.
Fan Favorite — Record-number of guests that have attended an El Paso Chihuahuas home game this year: 334,978. Previous, full-season record: 329,233. Previous record-setting year: 1995. Number of games the Chihuahuas have played this year: 41. Number of sold-out games: 31. Number of home games remaining: 26.
The Good, The Billed, The Ugly — Average monthly electric bill in Texas: $137. Rank among other states: 47. Average full consumption per driver: $212. Rank among other states: 43. National gas consumption: $32 a month. Rank: sixth.
Race-Based Education — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday in favor of UT’s race-based admissions process. The decision is part of the long, drawn-out legal battle that’s been going since 2008 when Abigail Fisher sued the university claiming she was discriminated against because of her race (she is white). The majority in the two-to-one decision said the university “may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity,” according to the Texas Tribune. This is hardly the end of the legal battle. Fisher’s lawyer said they plan to appeal the decision in the case, which has already gone to the U.S. Supreme Court once. “This panel was proven wrong last year by the Supreme Court, and we believe it will be proven wrong once again on appeal,” said the lawyer. What the future holds is a little unclear, but legal experts who spoke to the Dallas Morning News, “say that the 5th Circuit’s ruling may have significant sway with the justices in Washington because the judge who wrote the [majority] opinion is a prominent conservative who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.”
Community Vigilence— From Katy, Texas, a new addition to the now heartbreakingly familiar summer stories of kids being stuck in hot cars. This particular story made international news: “Shoppers at a Texas strip mall used a hammer to bust open the window of a hot car to free two small children locked inside after their mother ditched them to get her hair done,” according to the New York Daily News‘s item. As KHOU, which first got the story, reports, “No one called the police. In fact, [one witness] said the mom pleaded with everyone and said she had made a terrible mistake. Fortunately, it appears the children were unharmed.” Questionable judgment of the mother aside, it’s a relief that the kids were rescued before a different, all-too-common story was written. And thanks to cellphone footage, we know have the greatest PSA against leaving kids in mobile dutch ovens. Nice to know we can still rely on the village.
Parenthood, Better Planned — The numerous closures of aborion clinics in the past year have made headlines, and now it looks like there will be at least one new, grand opening. “Planned Parenthood plans to open a new clinic in southern Dallas that will meet the stringent requirements imposed on abortion providers by the state of Texas, ensuring that Dallas has at least one clinic that can perform abortions under the new rules,” according to the Dallas Observer. “The new facility, located in South Dallas, was purchased by Planned Parenthood as part of a plan to maintain health-care access for women despite the new restrictions. Other parts of the plan include providing money for birth control and travel for women who can no longer easily get to clinics, as well as renovating existing Planned Parenthoods.” As the piece notes, the new clinic will be just one of seven (out of an original 21) that meet the more restrictive standards created by SB5, requirements like “specific sizes for rooms and doorways, separate locker rooms for male and female employees as well as backup generators and an air sterilization system.”
Final Seconds of Play? — It looks like former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders might finally be backed into a corner. His charter school, Prime Prep Academy, which has been nothing but offsides since it began operating, may soon close once and for all. While its always had problems, the situation looks pretty bleak. The school may be shut down “for improper financial management and not complying with state education code,” according to the Dallas Morning News. A report the Texas Education Agency released Tuesday said the school “has had problems in almost every area” including the cafeteria food. Prime Prep has until the end of the month to file an appeal, which, apparently, it plans to do. Defending the school on Twitter, Deion wrote “Fight this like we have all the other battles that we’ve faced. 100% graduation rate 2 years straight and 15 scholarships awarded In only 2 years of existence.”