The State of Texas: September 23, 2015
Therapy cuts get delayed by judge, and deer breeders set their sights on the TPWD.
Gina Chavez, who previously won Austin Musician of the Year, appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert recently and really represented. Below is the whole show, and it’s a wonderful Wednesday pick-me-up.
Texas by the Numbers
All-Out Dallas — Rank of the DFW area nationally when it comes to food and alcohol expenditures outside the home: first. Percentage of total household expenditures spent on outside food: 6.1 percent. Percentage of total household expenditures spent on outside booze: 1.21 percent. Texas city that spends the most on tobacco products: Houston. National rank: third. Percentage of total household expenditures: .6 percent.
Movin’ Day/Week/Year — Texas’s rank among states for household relocations from out of state: first. Number of household relocations from out of state in 2013: 70,507. County with largest influx: Travis. Number of new households in 2013: 26,000. In second: Harris. Number of new households: 8,900.
Campus assaults — Portion of UT-Austin female undergraduates who say they’ve been sexually assaulted: 18.5 percent. At Texas A&M: 14.8 percent. National average: 23.1 percent. For males at UT: 5.4 percent. A&M: 4 percent. National average: 5.4 percent. Portion of all UT students who say they’ve been victims of sexual harassment: just over 45 percent. A&M: 40.6 percent. National average: 47.7. percent.
Delayed — Texas therapists who primarily help children with disabilities, not to mention the children and their families, can breathe a temporary sigh of relief. “State District Judge Tim Sulak [announced] that he would grant a temporary injunction to prevent the state from slashing payments to therapists. But he said he made his ruling in part because he’d been convinced the cuts could jeopardize the health of children receiving the therapy services,” according to the Texas Tribune. So buckle up for a long ride because this “marked the first decision in a series of legal challenges filed by therapy providers and families of children with disabilities, who seek to prove that by slashing payments to therapists, the state will cause as many as 60,000 children to lose access to those services.” The cuts were supposed to go into effect October 1, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is expected to appeal the decision.
Absent, but Not Forgotten — The Legislature began its review of Texas jail safety, but some key players were missing from the discussion Tuesday: namely the family of Sandra Bland, whose death inspired the review in the first place, reports the Associated Press. The family previously said they were not invited to the hearing, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick clarified that “the committee isn’t focused on any one death.” In related news, the Prairie View City Council offically made up its dern mind about renaming a street after Bland. In a 4–1 vote, the council decided to uphold its previous decision to change University Drive, the street where she was arrested, to Sandra Bland Parkway. As the Houston Chronicle writes, the decision was reached “at the urging of grass roots activists.” But even though the council had already once voted to rename the street, there were second thoughts as it “had been slated to consider changing the name of the road from Sandra Bland Parkway back to University Drive, according to a council agenda.” Public testimony was occasionally emotional, with about 75 to 100 people crowding into the council chambers. Speaking of overt racism, the Chronicle also has a rather interesting (if depressing) look at racial enrollment figures versus number of suspensions of various ISDs around the state. The figures are sadly unsurprising. At Deer Park ISD, for example, 18 percent of the black students enrolled had been suspended, compared to 4 percent of the white students enrolled. At Houston ISD, those figures were 38 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
A Time Out? — Yesterday, the University Interscholastic League delivered the worst threat a Texas high school could hear: John Jay High School’s football season might be over after the ref hit seen round the country. An official with UIL said the all-out cancellation of the season is certainly an option. “It is an option that is available to the State Executive Committee, according to the Constitution and Contest Rules, but I can’t say what the State Executive Committee will or will not do,” a spokesperson told the San Antonio Express-News. “It is an option available to them based on the rules that we have.” Both of the players who hit the ref have been asked to testify during a UIL meeting tomorrow, as well as the Jay High School coaches, including the assistant coach who was implicated in the attack. “The SEC will determine if the students failed to comply with rules prohibiting interaction with officials, judges or referees and if school district personnel coerced players into breaking those rules.” As the story notes, “The UIL spokesperson said the SEC may not impose penalties for individuals who don’t testify in front of the committee, but it can also prevent players and coaches from participating in UIL events until they meet with the SEC.”
Deerly Held Property — Texas deer breeders might sue the state over who owns the majestic future wall decor roaming our lands. In a letter to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a lawyer for about 1,300 breeders of whitetail deer indicated, according to the Austin American-Statesman, that she and other lawyers “might challenge a long-held provision in Texas that says all deer are considered property of the state. The lawyers could ask a judge to decide through a quick-resolution process called declaratory judgment to deem captive-bred deer to be private property.” The fight began after chronic wasting disease began affecting the deer population around the state. Texas Parks and Wildlife “temporarily halted the transportation of captive deer and called for post-mortem testing of part of the affected herd. Officials also are considering the possible annihilation of the entire 130-deer herd in which the disease was found.” As the story notes, the fight over who owns the deer is not new. “Some ranchers—many of whom own some of the largest, most storied properties in Texas—don’t want to see the proliferation of small breeding operations and the hunting leases they serve. Many of the breeders, on the other hand, say they are operating businesses that allow them to hold onto family ranches.”
*Editors’ note: The Daily Post has removed a section of Texas by the Numbers that relied on inaccurate information from a Houston Chronicle story. We regret the error.