The State of Texas: July 21, 2015
Video released in Bland case, and experts predict a disappointing shrimp season.
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Slow Going – The answers can’t come soon enough, but officials are making their way through the investigation of Sandra Bland’s death in a Hampstead jail. As reported by several publications, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis discussed certain aspects of the ongoing case Monday during a news conference, saying “This is being treated like a murder investigation,” according to the Texas Tribune. With that in mind, Mathis also said: “It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete.” Officials also released a three-hour video from outside Bland’s jail cell that they say shows she was alive when she was put in. The head of the Sheriff’s department Brian Cantrell “said a guard checked with Bland about two hours before she was found dead and Bland told her, ‘I’m fine,’” according to the Dallas Morning News. There is no video of inside the cell and officials have yet to present the dash cam footage of Bland’s contentious arrest, although they expect it to be released Tuesday.
Quiet Concession – So much for all of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s bluster over the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. Despite encouraging government employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Paxton “quietly conceded a case against the federal government over medical leave benefits for certain same-sex couples,” according to the Texas Tribune. Joining four other state attorneys general, Paxton “filed a voluntary dismissal on Friday with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas, where the states had sued the Obama administration over a [federal] rule change … intended to grant time off to legally married same-sex couples, even if they lived in a state like Texas that at the time did not recognize same-sex marriage.” Paxton dropped the state’s appeals court case against same-sex marriage earlier this month.
Crud-stacean – Although Father Mark Waters gave the annual blessing for the shrimp season, the industry could use a few more Hail Marys. It seems Texas’ recent rain wasn’t great for shrimp, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “is predicting a brown shrimp harvest of 42.8 million pounds, well below the historical 54-year average of 56.5 million pounds in the western Gulf of Mexico,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “The prediction comes after rain soaked the Texas Gulf Coast, pushing fresh water into salt-water estuaries and forcing shrimp from where they mature safe from deep-sea predators.” It’s not been the best of times for shrimpers, with prices dropping this year after several years of quality return. “White shrimp, which were unaffected by the spring rains, and brown shrimp captured in the Gulf make up 68 percent of the domestic harvest, according to NOAA, with most of the catch coming from Texas and Louisiana. White shrimp is less important in Texas, where 4 million pounds were captured in 2013, compared with 23 million pounds of brown shrimp.”