The State of Texas: November 24, 2015
Clock Boy’s family demands $15 million, and no one is sure where guns are allowed.
Quote of the Day
“I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue.”
— Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings discussing the threat of Syrian refugees
Ever wondered what happens when you combine two terrifying natural disasters? Well, here are The Slow Mo guys from Austin creating a tornado made out of fire! That you can watch in slow motion! (h/t Express-News)
Time is Money — This is what happens when you wind up a Clock Boy. Lawyers representing the family of fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed sent letters to both Irving ISD asking for $15 million and formal apologies. A letter to officials from the family’s lawyer claims that police illegally interrogated Ahmed over his homemade clock, and that top officials then “worked to ‘kneecap a kid in the media’ to cover up their mistakes,” reports the Dallas Morning News. The letter, which alleges new details about how Ahmed was handled by authorities the day he was interrogated, also singles out Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne for helping fuel the anti-Islamic sentiments aimed at the family. After the incident, Ahmed received a number of scholarship offers from schools, including one from a school in Qatar that extended the award to all of the kids in the family. The Mohameds took that latter prize, but say “the decision had as much to do with a backlash in the United States,” where they feared for Ahmed’s safety.
Don’t Take Your Guns to Town Hall, Son — More and more, it seems that the only people who wanted Texas to be a unfettered firearm zone were a lawmakers and a minority of gun-waving advocates. As Community Impact reports, Governor Greg Abbott issued a memo last month saying “licensed concealed handgun carriers cannot be prevented from entering multipurpose government buildings,” which means that the city of Austin is in violation for prohibiting guns in its City Hall. Not surprisingly, local authorities are not exactly thrilled. “The city of Austin argues that City Hall should be exempt from the state law because community court proceedings are sometimes held at the building, said [the city’s] acting assistant city manager.” The memo also adds another layer of confusion as to what can be banned. “Local government officials are interpreting the September law differently, especially those that operate ‘multipurpose’ buildings and complexes that include many rooms and offices – some explicitly subject to the gun ban and some not,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “Hays and Tom Green counties have asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for guidance on whether they can ban concealed carry in the entirety of a multipurpose building if it includes a gun-free zone, or if they can only do so in specific areas” and “Bexar County officials stressed Abbott’s memo represented his opinion, and was not a statement of law.” As the story notes, pretty much everyone is confused. “The Texas Municipal League and County Judges and Commissioners Association have said they read the law to allow guns to be banned in the entirety of buildings that house courtrooms because state law allows local governments to ban guns in ‘offices utilized by the court.'”
Courting Controversy — Planned Parenthood has struck back in the ongoing abortion fight, filing a federal lawsuit against the state for its upcoming attempts to expel the organization from the state’s Medicaid program. The move last month came after debatable claims of Planned Parenthood selling fetus parts and/or simply continuing to upset anti-choice lawmakers. “The nonprofit organization’s lawsuit alleges that Texas violated federal law and the so-called Medicaid freedom of choice provision, which allows those enrolled in Medicaid to seek services from a qualified provider of their choice,” according to the New York Times. “The lawsuit also accuses Texas officials of singling out Planned Parenthood for ‘unfavorable treatment without adequate justification,’ a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.” In other court news, the state is looking to delay the Obama administration’s appeal in the Supreme Court immigration case. Texas is leading a 26-state revolt against Obama’s kinder, gentler immigration plan, and various news reports seem to suggest that the request for a delay is a stalling tactic. “If the request made by Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller for a 30-day extension for filing court papers is granted, it could run out the clock on the court being able to hear the case in its current term, which runs until June,” writes Reuters. “If Texas gets its way and the court ultimately decides to hear the dispute without expediting it, oral arguments would not be held until fall 2016 with a ruling not likely until after Obama leaves office in January 2017.”