Monday, April 22, 2019

The Earth Day Wrangle

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of our home base that some in the ecological movement believe has lost meaning.

The Texas Progressive Alliance also acknowledges San Jacinto Day yesterday, but would prefer to remind readers about the full history ...

... and re-focus on the future of the Great State, as the Chronicle writes.

Here's the full edition of the round-up of lefty blog posts and news from around and about Texas from last week!

Starting with updates from the Texas Legislature, Luke Metzger at Environment Texas recaps how environmental issues are currently faring during the session.  Texas Vox reports that a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jose' Menendez would set standards for residential and small commercial solar users, giving them some assurances about distributed generation.   

With a few climate-related posts, LareDOS writes that on Texas farms and ranches (and across the US), every day is Earth Day.  And HPM asks if anything has changed in the nine years since the Deepwater Horizon environmental tragedy.

Progrexas blogged about the state's deleting thousands of children from Medicaid every month due to red tape, and even Politico has picked up on the Lege's Freak Right Wing Caucus working hard to outlaw abortion.

Texas and six other states are debating similar bills based on model legislation from National Right to Life that would impose fines and prison sentences on physicians and nurses who neglect an infant surviving an abortion. The Texas bill is on the verge of passage -- the state House and Senate must reconcile slightly differing versions of the bill before it's sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has tweeted his support.

These bills are designed, as everyone knows, to test the Supreme Court's new conservative majority on Roe v. Wade.

Better Texas Blog shows why a property-tax-for-sales-tax swap is bad policy, and as the Lege considers legalizing hemp production, Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer writes that it could be a real shot in the arm for the state's farmers.

One of the measures moving through the Capitol is House Bill 1325, by Representative Tracy King, a Batesville Democrat. Dozens of farmers, ranchers, hemp proponents and others testified in favor of HB 1325 in a House Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this month. So many people showed up to the usually quiet committee that some attendees were moved to an overflow room; no one testified against the bill. After passing in an 8-0 vote by the ag committee, the proposal is now at the mercy of the House Calendars Committee, which sets the daily agenda for the lower chamber. Lawmakers have until May 28 to pass legislation.

The Austin Statesman has details about a bill that would end partisan elections of judges in the state.  (Spoiler: It is not expected to pass.)  More election news from TXElects:

Early voting begins today in most jurisdictions for the May 4 uniform election.

SC7: McAllen attorney Brandy Voss amended her campaign committee for a potential challenge of Justice Jeff Boyd (R), likely as a Democrat.

CD24: Bedford neuroscientist John Biggan, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2018 (22%), re-authorized his campaign committee for a second challenge of U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton). Biggan is at least the sixth Democrat to take a formal step toward running in 2020.

HD47: Austin attorney Jenny Roan Forgey established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin). Her personal social media posts suggest she would run as a Republican.

HD67: Dallas resident Anthony Lo established a campaign committee for an undetermined state office, but an ActBlue page indicates it may be HD67, which is held by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Allen). Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) has a legislative director by the same name.

The Dallas News has updates on municipal elections in the Metroplex as early voting there gets under way, and the Houston Chronicle covers the Bayou City.  (Houston is not holding mayoral and city council elections until November, with the filing deadline in August.)  Meanwhile the San Antonio Current has a very brief rundown of voting info for the Alamo City, and Robert Rivard bemoans the continual lack of interest in San Antone's elections.  And Kuff reviews some Senate election data from 2018 to postulate about 2020.

A New Mexico militia says it is "holding" migrants for CBP agents, reports Texas Standard.

On Saturday, the FBI arrested a New Mexico-based member -- and possible leader -- of the self-styled militia group, United Constitutional Patriots, charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The militia has allegedly been detaining migrants at the southern border in New Mexico, and the state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham has said the militia has “no authority” to do so.

Angela Kocherga has been covering this story for the Albuquerque Journal, and says the militia has a camp in Sunlalnd Park, New Mexico, just across the border from Texas. The militia is still there, even after the ACLU tipped off New Mexico’s governor and attorney general about the group’s practices, which is what led to the FBI’s arrest of one of its members. Kocherga says the group’s current spokesman told her it intends to continue detaining migrants.

“He admitted to me they are detaining people, but he said legally they have every right, and New Mexico is an open-carry state so they can also carry weapons,” Kocherga says.

The person who was arrested, however, wasn’t allowed to carry weapons because of his criminal background.

Kocherga says it’s also unclear whether the group is legally allowed to detain migrants like it claims. She says the group said it’s “holding” migrants -- mostly children and families -- until Border Patrol comes. The militia claims it wasn’t arresting the migrants, but she says a video posted by the group shows that wasn’t always clear to them.

“They said people are free to leave … but the migrants seem very confused in the video, some are young children, and that prompted an outcry from the ACLU,” Kocherga says, “that this was akin to kidnapping, in their words.”

SocraticGadfly has a trifecta of posts about recent national developments.  When the Mueller report was released, he offered a non-twosiderism take about what it said and what it didn't.  When Beltway stenographers and The Resistance refused to let go of collusion, etc., he called them out in a follow-up.  Earlier, after Julian Assange's arrest, he gave another non-twosiderism assessment of the history leading up to that.

The Greater Houston metro area has reached seven million in terms of population, according to Tory Gattis at Houston Strategies.

It's the final few days of Houston Black Restaurant Week, through April 28, and special prix-fixe menus at participating eateries will donate a portion of proceeds to F.A.R.M.S., which provides legal and technical services to aging small farmers while alleviating hunger in their respective communities by helping them do what they love: grow food.

And LiveScience has the story about the thousands of fossils collected near Beeville by WPA workers during the Depression era that are finally being studied.

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration paid folks to collect and preserve fossils in Texas. Here, Glen Evans (left), who managed much of this WPA project, 
is shown carrying a fossil in a field jacket with a worker.
Credit: The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

The selection of animals is mind-boggling, revealing that rhinos, camels, rodents, 12 types of horses and five species of carnivores trekked across what is now the Texas Gulf Coast some 11 million to 12 million years ago.

"It's the most representative collection of life from this time period of Earth history along the Texas coastal plain," study researcher Steven May, a research associate at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, said in a statement.

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