The State of Texas: May 26, 2015
Tweet of the Day
If you live in certain parts of Texas, this has been your life for the past couple of days:
Meanwhile in Texas… pic.twitter.com/uzSTaFPjam
— You Know Youre Texan (@uknowuratexan) May 25, 2015
Minor Solutions – While the rest of us were having a relaxing Memorial Day, the Texas Lege was busy. “On a 21-10 vote, the upper chamber signed off on House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria to tighten the requirements on ‘judicial bypass,’ the legal process that allows minors to get court approval for an abortion if seeking permission from their parents could endanger them,” reports the Texas Tribune. One of the bill’s more condescending provisions—a requirement for “all doctors to presume a pregnant woman seeking an abortion was a minor unless she could present a valid government record of identification to prove she was 18 or older”—was scrapped. If an abortion was acceptable in only extreme cases before, the legislation now makes it all but impossible for a minor to obtain one, as they now have to file an application with a local county judge.
Texas Flood – It’s been a rough few days for people in Central Texas and a wet one in general for the past few weeks. Governor Greg Abbott has “expanded a state disaster declaration to 24 more counties,” writes the Houston Chronicle. “That’s in addition to 13 other counties put under weather-related disaster declarations this month.” Abbott made the announcement while visiting Wimberley, in which more than 350 houses were washed away due to flooding, according to the Guardian. In addition to the water, wind, too, has ravaged Texas, with tornadoes touching down all over the state it seems. Although it’s a terrible when-it-rains-it-pours situation, the state is hitting record rainfalls after years of drought. “Wichita Falls was so dry at one point that that it had to get Texas regulatory approval to recycle and treat its wastewater as drinking water dried up. By Sunday, the city reached a rainfall record, nearly 14 inches in May.”
Back in the Race – By a hair, the Texas Racing Commission will still be providing the state’s citizens with gambling opportunities. Despite having been in hot water for its previous decision to allow historic racing, “a new budget agreement shows that the agency will continue to receive funding, which allows them to operate,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As the story notes, it was a touch-and-go year for the commission, whose support for historic racing rubbed more than one legislator the wrong way. Senator Jan Nelson, for instance, had “filed a state budget that stripped $15.4 million in funding from the Racing Commission; state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, filed a proposal to dissolve the commission and transfer its duties to another agency.” It kind of seems like the commission learned its lesson about getting creative with its best. Or as the Telegram put it, “Racing Commission officials say they plan to stay on track. ‘We look forward to continuing our mission of enforcing the Texas Racing Act and its rules,’” said a commission spokesman.
Backfire – Officials are still investigating the whole biker mess in Waco, but that hasn’t stopped others from trying to piece together how and why the shootout took place. After nearly a week of reports from police and the main biker group, the Bandidos, it’s the Cossacks that are now speaking out, offering a “different story.” Wire reports from the Dallas Morning News stated that at least one member, who is now in hiding, is claiming that the Cossacks were “invited to the Twin Peaks patio that day by a Bandido leader, who offered to make peace in a long-running feud between the two gangs. That invitation was a setup for an ambush, though, according to the Cossack. . . . That’s why the dead included six Cossacks, one Scimitar (an ally of the Cossacks), and only two Bandidos.” As the story notes, “the biker’s story could not be independently verified; most of those involved in the shootout are still in jail. But significant parts of his account square with police statements as well as security camera videos obtained by The Associated Press.” Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how the shootout is colored and fleshed out should more Cossacks come forward.