10 states join Texas AG in lawsuit over school bathrooms
AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 25 filed a lawsuit against the heads of the federal Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Equal Opportunity Commission and other entities for issuing directives that would require public schools to open up restrooms and locker rooms to both sexes.
Joining Texas in the lawsuit are the states of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Plaintiffs also include a diverse coalition of top state officials and local school districts, including the Harrold (Texas) Independent School District.
“Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” Paxton said in the complaint.
In a long list of reliefs sought, the plaintiffs are asking the court for “a declaration that the defendants’ new rules, regulations, guidance and interpretations are unlawful and must be set aside as actions taken ‘without observance of procedure required by law’ under the federal Administrative Procedure Act.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division.
Court hears voter ID case
The Texas Attorney General’s Office on May 24 defended the state’s Voter ID law before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. The case was heard en banc, that is, all 15 of the court’s judges.
Texas’ voter ID law was passed by the Legislature in 2011. It requires voters to present a valid driver license or one of several other accepted forms of official photo identification, in addition to their voter registration. Plaintiffs say the law has discriminatory effects that violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
At a previous hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Fifth Circuit to decide the case by July 20.
Runoff results come in
The Office of the Secretary of State posted May 24 election night returns for the 2016 Republican and Democratic parties’ primary runoffs. In statewide contests:
— Wayne Christian of Center, a former state representative, won the Republican Party runoff against Gary Gates of Rosenberg for a seat on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission;
— Grady Yarborough of San Antonio won the Democratic Party runoff against Cody Garrett of Austin for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission;
— Mary Lou Keel of Austin won the Republican Party runoff against Ray Wheless of Plano for Judge, Criminal Court of Appeals Place 2;
— Scott Walker of Fort Worth won the Republican Party runoff against Brent Webster of Georgetown for Judge, Criminal Court of Appeals Place 5;
— Keven M. Ellis of Lufkin won the Republican Party runoff against Mary Lou Bruner of Smith County for State Board of Education, District 9;
— R. Dakota Carter of Houston won the Democratic Party runoff against Jasmine L. Jenkins of Houston for State Board of Education, District 6.
Other notable races:
— State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, beat State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, in the runoff for Northeast Texas Senate District 1 to succeed longtime Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, who chose not to seek re-election.
— Dawn Buckingham of Austin beat State Rep. Susan King of Abilene in the Republican Party runoff for Texas Senate District 24, a Central Texas seat long held by Sen. Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, who chose not to seek re-election.
— Incumbent state Rep. Ron Reynolds of Missouri City beat challenger Angelique Bartholomew of Missouri City in the Democratic Party’s Southwest Houston-area House District 27 runoff;
— Incumbent state Rep. Doug Miller of New Braunfels lost to Kyle Biedermann of Fredericksburg in the Republican Party’s House District 73 runoff; and
— Incumbent state Rep. Wayne Smith of Houston lost to Briscoe Cain of Deer Park in the Republican Party runoff for West Houston-area House District 128.
Complete party primary runoff results are available online at sos.state.tx.us.
Zika numbers reported
The Texas Department of State Health Services on May 20 announced that Texas has reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control one confirmed case of Zika in a pregnant woman who traveled abroad to an area with Zika transmission.
There have been 12 additional pregnancies in Texas with laboratory evidence of Zika infection since tracking and testing for Zika began, but all of those 12 have come back inconclusive.
The agency said that in order to be reported as a Zika pregnancy case, a pregnant woman must exhibit a rash or fever plus at least one other symptom, and also have a positive Zika-specified test result.