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The State of Texas: May 13, 2015

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Image of the Day

There are about twelve full days left of the legislative calender. So how is the Lege progressing with all of its bills? See for yourself. Hercules had an easier (and less messy) time with the Augean stables:

Video Wednesday

The marijuana revolution will finally be televised. As if the impressive number of weed-related bills sailing through Lege committees wasn’t enough, a decriminalization—featuring a former cop—is about to hit all Texas markets. The spot has all the excitement of a political ad, but on subject matter alone it’s impressive:

Texas By The Numbers

Top Marks – Number of high schools in Texas: 1,869. Number that made it into U.S. News & World Report’s recent ranking of best in the nation: 400+. Number of ranked high schools in Dallas: 14. Houston: 36. Austin: 15. San Antonio: 20. Top-ranked school in state: School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas.

Consensus Theorists – Percentage of voters who think military excercises like Jade Helm are okay: 65 percent. Opposed: 16 percent. Those with reservations: 45 percent. Reservations among conservatives: 56 percent. No concern among moderates: 58 percent. Liberals: 67 percent.

Daily Roundup

Cleanup – Recovery efforts are under way after tornados ripped through North Texas. The town of Van was hit the hardest with fifty people taken to the hospital and three deaths total in Texas. More than fifty people were in shelters as of Monday. Officials are saying full recovery could take a year, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Van Zandt County emergency management coordinator said there was “several millions of dollars” in damage throughout the county. “It can take literally minutes to wipe out a community, and it can take a couple of years for the rebuilding effort,” said a Red Cross spokeswoman.

Dead End – The free-market has spoken! Or rather, the Legislature can’t string together the right combination of words. The “looming legislative deadlines” have left “a bill to establish statewide rules for ‘transportation network companies’ like Uber and Lyft … all but dead,” reports the Dallas Morning News. Representative Chris Paddie, the author of the bill, said “he would look for other avenues for the high-profile proposal, but said his options are limited in the session’s waning days.” The legislation “would create statewide rules for Uber and others on issues ranging from vehicle standards to insurance requirements to permitting. The Department of Motor Vehicles would administer the rules, which wouldn’t apply to cabs and limos.” Cities like Dallas, however, have argued for area-specific regulations to best fit the needs of the community. Although we’ve all seen how well that goes over with fracking bans.

Can’t Block This – Nothing can stop UT regent Wallace Hall from undertaking his quixotic crusade against admissions policiesnot even his own university. And surprisingly, he’s getting a little help from the big boys. Attorney General Ken Paxton yesterday sided “with Hall in a dispute over whether regents can have access to confidential student records,” according to the Texas Tribune. “Paxton didn’t specifically order the university system to hand over any records. But he broadly stated in a letter to the system that universities can’t withhold documents from regents if those records are necessary for the regent to do his or her job. Paxton also seemed to dismiss the system’s concerns about student privacy, saying federal privacy records don’t prevent schools from giving regents records if they are part of an audit or evaluation of a state-supported program.” Paxton’s announcement should make for a pretty awkward regents meeting today. Not that this is new territory for anyone. In April, a majority of the board voted against Hall’s previous request for documents. As with every other aspect of the ongoing battle, everything is still up in the air. Following Paxton’s letter, “it’s unclear whether the UT System will now turn over the documents.”

Clickity Bits

Stripper Seeks Protective Order Against Holocaust-Comparing Lawmaker

The Life and Death of an Infamous San Antonio Boxer

FBI Spied on Texas Environmentalists, Violated Rules

They’re About to Drill by the Deepwater Horizon Site Again

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