Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (still awaiting trial) is polishing up his conservative bona fides by claiming that local prosecutors are not going after abortion related crimes. Paxton is going to the Legislature seeking funding and authority for his office to prosecute abortion-related crimes – something that is currently left to local prosecutors. Paxton cites an agreement between 5 large county district attorneys in claiming that Texas law is not being enforced by local prosecutors. This appears to be wrong on two fronts. First, the DA’s agreement was made in connection with ongoing litigation over a 2017 state abortion law. Five of the district attorneys in the eight Texas counties that actually have abortion facilities said they would not enforce the challenged portions of the law while the issue of constitutionality was being litigated. There never was a permanent agreement to not enforce the law – it was a “wait and see” while the challenges to the law were working their way through the courts. Second, Paxton produced no actual evidence of any abortion-related crimes. Travis County DA Margaret Moore who has jurisdiction over several abortion facilities has indicated that she is not aware of a single abortion-related complaint that could be investigated or prosecuted.
From the Annals of the Speculators – In 1883, the “Fifty Cent Act” was removed from Texas law. The FCA had been in effect for just over four years and provided for selling off Texas public land at the bargain basement price of fifty cents an acre. Half of the sales proceeds were to be used to pay down the public debt and the other half to establish a permanent school fund. The FCA applied to lands in over fifty Texas counties resulting in the sale of 3,201,283 acres for $1,600,641.55. The FCA Act was repealed due to abuse and fraudulent land speculation.
The Republicans who represent a good chunk of the Texas Panhandle in the Texas House and Senate are facing ultra-right wing challengers in the upcoming GOP primary. Merely being a somewhat thoughtful conservative or even considering a Democratic proposal is a dangerous game to play in the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP. If you are unwilling to lick the boots of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you might just find yourself back home wondering how you aren’t quite conservative enough. Senator Kel Selinger and Representatives Ken King (Lubbock) and Four Price (Amarillo) may be unseated in March. The Texas Observer has more on the far right movement to take down any such “Establishment Republicans.”
The challengers are generally following a playbook developed by Empower Texans, a right-wing enforcement group that targets what it considers establishment Republicans: claim that you are unequivocally conservative and that the other guy is basically a Democrat, all the while vilifying bipartisanship and accusing your opponent of being a big-government patsy who’s soft on abortion.
Far-right groups, including Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texas Right to Life and Grassroots America — We The People are working to knock off the incumbents. And while the Panhandle is one of the reddest parts of the whole country (Trump took 90 percent of the vote in some of the counties here), the area continues to elect Republicans with a pragmatic streak. For instance, King has sought to secure funding for struggling rural schools; Price has been a champion for mental health care; and Seliger refused to divert money from public schools for private school vouchers. Wielding accusations of perceived liberalism, challengers have made the region a battleground in the civil war raging within the Texas GOP.
From the Annals of the Constitution – In 1972, Texas voters passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Texas Constitution. The Amendment was the end result of a campaign started in 1957 by the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. In 1957, the TFBPW sent attorney Hermine D. Tobolowsky to testify for a bill authorizing married women to control property separately from their husbands. When members of the Senate Committee reacted to her testimony with amusement, Tobolowsky determined to shift direction and steer the TFBPW towards a campaign for an equal rights amendment rather than seeking incremental changes in particular statutes. Despite several setbacks including resistance from later-disgraced House Speaker Gus Mutscher, the TFBPW ultimately succeeded in getting the amendment passed by the Legislature and almost 80% of Texas voters approved the amendment. The amendment is remarkably simple in its phrasing but broad in its impact.
Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. This amendment is self-operative.
State Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) filed House Bill 250 last month that would protect motorists who hit demonstrators “blocking traffic in a public right-of-way” if the river exercises “due care.” Red isn’t sure how you would determine if a driver used due care in hitting a protestor or why you would want to provide such protection to a motorist. What’s so gall-danged important that you need to drive through a throng blocking a street anyway? If it’s a life and death situation, it is also pretty unlikely to involve your average driver in their Toyota. The bill would not change any criminal laws, but would make it more difficult to hold someone civilly liable in such cases.
Predictably, Fallon caught a lot of flack for his tone deafness in this matter and was outraged that anyone would take umbrage with making it potentially less – shall we say, troublesome – to run over a demonstrator. The Dallas Morning News has more here.
The Texas Tribune reports that members of the so-called Freedom Caucus sabotaged more than 100 bills in the Texas House last night in retribution for not getting their way in attempting to restrict abortion rights even more, make sure that everyone has a gun and that good God-fearing white people are not abused. It’s all too complicated and inside baseball for Red to explain, but it does show that there is no Republican solidarity in Texas and that the ultra rightwing of the party is willing to do anything to inflict punishment on those who will not go along with their attempt to turn Texas into the largest Christian Church in the country where the good ol’ boy whiteys are running the show.
From the Annals of the Wildflowers – In 1901, Texas legislature proclaimed the “bluebonnet” as the state flower. Although consideration was given to the cotton boll and varieties of cactus flower, the choice of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Texas prevailed. That was the Lupinus subcarnosus (“also known as buffalo clover or bluebonnet” as stated in the resolution) and the bluebonnet became the state flower without any recorded opposition.
But that is not the end of the story. Lupinus subcarnosus is a small variety of the Lupine family which largely inhabits areas of coastal and south Texas. Some wildflower enthusiasts believed that the LS was the least attractive of the Texas bluebonnets. Thus, began a push for Lupinus texensis, a hardier and showier blue beauty which covers most of Texas to take up the mantle as the official state flower.
For 70 years, the Legislature was encouraged to correct its oversight. In order to avoid any wildflower controversy or offend patrons of the Lupinus subcarnosus, the wise representatives of the people declared that both LS and LT as well as “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded”, would now be the one and true state flower.
Well surprise, there are at least three other species of Lupines and the Legislature made all of them the state flower as well. If new species are discovered, they also will automatically be the Texas State Flower.
As it stands now, the five state flowers of Texas are:
Lupinus subcarnosus, the original which grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley.
Lupinus texensis, the most widely known and easiest of all the species to grow.
Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe with flowering spikes up to three feet.
Lupinus concinnus, a small Lupine known as the Annual Bluebonnet grows from 2 to 7 inches tall and has flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. It is uncommon in the Trans-Pecos region.
Lupinus plattensis, also known as the Dune Bluebonnet, the Plains Bluebonnet and heretically the Nebraska Lupine, grows to about 2 feet tall and is the only perennial species in the state, It is found mostly on sand hills in the Panhandle.