Facebook > Email > More Pinterest Print Twitter Play

The State of Texas: November 25, 2014

By Comments

Video of the Day

Former presidents, they’re just like us! They get old; they go to Houston Texans games; they even give awkward smooches on during the Kiss Cam! Such was the case for George H.W. and brains-of-the-family Barbara, during Sunday festivities. The whole thing is almost as exciting as skydiving:

Daily Roundup

Surge Charge — Lest anyone thought Texas’s attorney general was all talk about suing Obama for the thirtieth-odd time, fear not. Greg Abbott said yesterday, “he expects to legally challenge President Barack Obama’s new immigration action ‘in the next two weeks,'” according to CNN. Abbot “accused Obama … of violating the Constitution’s requirement that the president faithfully execute laws passed by Congress, and said Obama’s move is dangerous because it paves the way for future presidential candidates to claim, for instance, that they would waive penalties for Americans who didn’t pay taxes.” As one might expect, Abbott has plenty of Republican support, or, put another way, there’s plenty of hand-wringing about what Obama’s action means. The Houston Chronicle lays out top Republican concerns, including that the new executive order will all but ensure another influx of illegal immigrants. “They point to the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides temporary legal status to some young people who arrived in the U.S. as children. It was expanded by the recent executive action. The limited scope of the program led to a widespread rumor that inspired thousands of hopeful youths and families to trek toward the American Dream and away from violence in their home countries.”

Extracurricular Activities — Texas may be near the bottom of the list when it comes to education, but at least we’re giving it that ol’ college try. “Two out of three Texans still don’t have an associate degree or higher as the final year of a 15-year statewide push to boost enrollment and graduation rates approaches,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The state has made strides under a long-range plan implemented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2000, boosting the number of people enrolled, but the number of degrees is not keeping pace with the state’s rapid growth.” Hoping for a better future, officials now have a 2030 plan that will “set higher standards for Hispanic and black students” and “has more emphasis on students graduating with high-paying jobs and lower debt.” Perhaps a bit optimistic, “The coordinating board expects by next year to meet most of the goals under the current plan, which had been periodically revised as the state met benchmarks. By 2015, the board wants 5.7 percent of the total population enrolled in a Texas institution of higher education. Enrollment rates in Texas overall and among the African-American population exceeded 5.7 percent as of fall 2013, but Hispanics continue to lag. Officials attribute that in part to the rapid growth of that group.”

Immediate Vows — Some people can’t wait to get married, which is understandable when the state simply won’t let you. “On Monday, two same-sex couples who sued to overturn the Texas ban filed a motion urging Garcia to ‘follow the Supreme Court’s lead and lift the stay’ to prevent the couples from ‘needlessly suffering as a result of the unconstitutional laws,'” according to the Austin American-Statesman. A state judge has previously held the state ban to be unconstitutional, but he also put a stay on any marriages while Texas appeals the ruling. As the story notes, however, “the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to enforce similar stays in three states, lifted a stay in Kansas and declined to overrule three appellate courts that had overturned gay-marriage bans in a half-dozen other states.” As one would expect, the office of governor-elect Abbott “opposes the request.”

UnBendable — There’s yet another fight brewing between the EPA and Texas. The only difference this time is that it doesn’t involve a lawsuit. At least not yet. “The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday proposed costly new pollution controls at eight Texas coal plants in an attempt to restore natural visibility at Big Bend and two other national parks,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “The move comes five years after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality set the year 2155 as a target for returning clear skies to the parks. The state’s plan, which the EPA rejected, did not require any new pollution controls for the power plants — a primary source of haze-forming sulfur dioxide in part — because of the potential price tag.” Luckily, in a fight against the EPA, we have a plan. Or at least an excuse. “Texas’ plan blames Mexico and Central America for most of Big Bend’s dirty air, attributing 52 percent of the emissions that create the haziest days to points south of the Rio Grande.”

Free Ride — Modern transportation is great, even for animals. A rufous hummingbird made it south for the winter not by its own natural sense of direction but by airplane. A “tiny rust-colored bird was flown south on a private jet and released Sunday in Texas by a wildlife rehabilitator” from St. Paul, Minnesota, reports the state’s Star-Tribune. “The bird was brought to the center earlier this month after it ended up at the feeder of a St. Paul homeowner. The woman rescued the hummingbird after she realized it wasn’t likely to survive the unseasonably cold weather at the time.” Experts believe “the same system that brought the wintry weather blew the rust-colored bird off its migratory course,” according to the Dallas Morning NewsJust how complicated was the bureaucratically managed migration? “The wildlife center, the largest independent general wildlife hospital in the country, engaged experts and biologists from across the country on whether the bird should be taken south and if so, where it should be released. The center settled on Texas rather than Arizona to take advantage of the Gulf Coast flyway . . . and got approval from Texas officials.”

Clickity Bits

Will Low Oil Cost Finally Hurt Texas Production?

Texas Professor Adjusting to Life Inside a Dumpster

We’re the State With Strongest Correlation Between Unemployment and Suicide

What Caused That Earthquake Over the Weekend?

Love in the Time of Acquisition UT Getting Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Archive

DA Dropping Charge For Teen’s Nightmare Accident

The George W. Bush Center For Kids Who Want to Learn Good

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

Related Content