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The State of Texas: March 12, 2015

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Just in case you had any doubt as to where ste representative Jonathan Stickland, a Republican from Bedford, stood in the pro-choice/pro-life debate, his Capitol office yesterday put up an official-looking sign reminding everyone. According to his Facebook page, he put it up “in honor of” Planned Parenthood’s visit. After representative Charlie Geren, a Republican from Fort Worth, took it down, Stickland said he wished his colleague had been “more professional about it.”

Daily Roundup

The Cost of Perry – The Texas Miracle doesn’t come cheap, at least not when it comes to promoting it. Already staggering, the numbers are still coming in with regards to Rick Perry’s taxpayer-footed tour promoting himself, er, the state. “The state had to pay about $1 million a year on average to transport, feed, and house his security detail from the time Perry began running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2011 until he left office earlier this year,” according to figures collected by the Texas Tribune, which has some pretty interesting/depressing graphics on the subject, breaking down the cost of Perry’s various trips to Italy, China, Israel, Palau, and Switzerland. “All told, from September 2011 through November of last year, taxpayers shelled out $1.6 million for travel, $780,000 for lodging, $665,000 for food, and $80,000 for fuel. Another $240,000 was spent on ‘other,’ a category with no explanation or itemization.” On Wednesday, state representative Lyle Larson, a Republican from San Antonio, argued for a bill that would require “future governors and other traveling officeholders . . . to submit regular reports to the Texas Ethics Commission detailing the purpose for any out-of-state travel and whether state-provided security was used.”

Phil Collins, Texan – It was sort of inevitable after the eighties pop star gave the state his massive collection of Alamo and Texas Revolution treasures, but Phil Collins–very British, very cosmopolitan–has officially been named an honorary Texan. “The status of an honorary Texan was made official by resolutions passed in the House and Senate,” writes the San Antonio Express-News. As the Associated Press notes, the lawmakers were in fine form. “Collins grinned as many lawmakers took to the floor to joke about ‘feeling it in the air tonight,’ ‘one more night,’ and Texas having a ‘groovy kind of love’ for its newest honorary citizen.”

A Year Later – SXSW kicks off tomorrow, but it’s impossible to celebrate the beginning of the festivities without also acknowledging last year’s tragedy. The Austin American-Statesman takes a long look at a couple of the survivors of the car crash that killed four people and injured twenty more, as well as the tragedy’s place among this year’s fun. “SXSW organizers say they are planning a memorial, with details to come” and the popular bar beside the scene of the crime will also put up a marker. As the story notes, “the aftermath of the crash will go on for years. The judge is hoping to start the trial of Rashad Owens, 22, the man charged with driving into the crowd, by November. Administrators of the SXSW Cares Fund, established the day after the crash, are expecting applications to come for years. . . . the eight victims or their families [are] suing South by Southwest and its traffic engineering company and Owens.”

Frack You – That’s seems to be the general message to local city governments from a set of state legislative bills. As the Fort Worth Star-Tribune writes, “Three bills restating the state’s authority over urban oil and gas drilling are being criticized for stripping cities of much of their local control, with one group calling the effort a ‘scorched earth’ strategy by the energy industry.” Two bills would flat out ban cities from enacting local laws that “ban or limit an oil and gas operation,” while another would require all legislation to be sent to the Texas Railroad Commission for judgment first. This is just the latest battle in this fight, in which citizens could legitimately wonder whose side their representatives are on. “Other lawmakers, including Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, and Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, have offered their own legislation designed to prevent further bans.”

Clickity Bits

Meet “The New Wendy Davis” . . . Republican Representative Sarah Davis

“Lone Ranger Bandit” Gets Forty Years in Prison

Is Someone in Dallas Selling Stuff From the Great White Concert Fire?

Fort Hood Officer Admits to Leading Prostitution Ring

The Unbearable Lightness of our Tax Burden

Historical Racing Gambling Is History . . . for Now

Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet Texas Monthly and Jeff Winkler.

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