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Texas Supreme Court to Revisit Same-Sex Marriage Case

The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a case that challenges local government employee benefits for married same-sex couples.

At stake is whether the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide requires public agencies to provide taxpayer-subsidized benefits to same-sex spouses of government employees.

Chuck Smith, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas, tells KUT’s Becky Fogel that he’s the first to admit there’s no constitutional right to employee benefits. But, he says, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is clear: When it comes to marriage, same-sex couples have to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples.

“So if the City of Houston, or any employer, provides benefits to its married opposite-sex employees, it is obligated to extend those same benefits, on the same terms and conditions, to same-sex married couples,” he says.

The Texas Supreme Court initially declined to hear the case, which challenged Houston’s benefits policy for married same-sex couples. In an 8-1 decision, justices let stand a lower court decision upholding benefits.

But the state’s high court reversed course last month under pressure from top Texas Republicans. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in October asking the all-Republican court to reconsider. They also asked the court to clarify that the U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, does not “bind state courts to resolve all other claims in favor of the right to same-sex marriage.”

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Still no timeline for withdrawal of state troopers on border, Texas DPS chief says

by Julián Aguilar

It’s still too soon to tell if the Trump administration’s ramped up border-security efforts will allow Texas to scale back its own state-funded surge operations, the state’s top law enforcement officer told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw said that uncertainty is due, in part, to the time it takes to hire and train more federal agents. The Trump administration said in an executive order signed earlier this month that part of its border-security plan was to hire at least 5,000 additional U.S. Border Patrol agents.

“It’s always been our strategic intent to work ourselves out of it,” McCraw said of the state’s operation during a House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee hearing at the Capitol. “We’re hopeful and mindful it will happen sooner than later. [But] I can’t tell you a date.”

The director’s testimony comes as the state’s budget writers are debating whether to greenlight hundreds of millions of dollars for a continued border surge that began in 2014 when tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants began arriving in Texas after illegally crossing the Rio Grande.

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Texas Seeks to Ban Insurance Policies From Covering Abortion

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An effort to prohibit coverage of abortion by many health insurance plans in Texas is back, despite stalling in previous years.

Republican Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood is seeking to bar health insurance plans offered through the Obama administration’s signature health care law from covering the cost of abortions. Exceptions are if policyholders purchase supplemental coverage, or in the case of medical emergencies.

A Senate committee heard the bill Tuesday, and it is expected to draw widespread support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. A similar effort failed to become law last session, though.

Texas is behind other conservative states on the issue.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research group supporting abortion rights, says 25 states already restrict abortion coverage in plans purchased through health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act

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Whatever remains of the Liberty Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, finds themselves in the same position they were in just two years ago in the 84th Texas Legislative Session.

They’re positioned to celebrate very few victories, if any, for the 2017 session.  Their ability to help the aggressive agenda of the Texas Senate is somewhat impotent.  And, this after every single soul punched the green light of capitulation on January 10, 2017, and unanimously crowned Joe Straus as Texas Speaker for a fifth term, 150-0.

It seems they’re relegated to their familiar role of exposing how bad things can get under the Pink Dome, session after session.  Then, even heroically, the Liberty Caucus does its best to stop some of the most egregious attempts to abridge liberty and the will of the majority of Texans that take place at the Capitol.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford RER99) has caught the imagination of the grassroots around Texas with his “Bad Bill of the Week” spotlight.  Last week, it sounded like the “Big Stick” had a special edge about the announcement of his award.  Perhaps it had to do with the award winner, State Rep. Jason “Attach Chihuahua” Villalba (R-Dallas RER55).

Holli and Gloria get their laughs about the award.  But, then the conversation gets very serious because the level of government interference being proposed by Villalba’s bill is intolerable.  Villalba has a reputation of filing bills that blatantly intrude upon the individual liberty and decision-making of Texans.  You won’t believe what government-imposed mandate the “Attach Chihuahua” wants to shackle all Texans with, now – after they’re dead!


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In a story published on February 22, 2017 we reported on how the Travis County Attorney David Escamilla, has filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to avoid compliance of an open records request made by election integrity activist, Dr. Laura Pressley.

Pressley filed an open records request in the summer of 2016, leading up to the general election, to obtain emails from the Travis County Elections office that made any reference to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, Harris County, Travis County, and Hart Intercivic, the company that manufactures the electronic voting machines that dominate Texas elections.

The Travis County lawsuit seeks to keep nine pages of emails out of the hands of Dr. Pressley that the Texas AG’s office has said should be turned over to Pressley.

The lawsuit, as filed by the Travis County Attorney, contains a major factual flaw in Article VI: Facts.  Escamilla maintains in the lawsuit that the motivation for Dr. Pressley’s open records request was related to her own legal case that challenges the outcome of the election in her bid for Austin City Council in 2014.

In her interview with, Pressley flatly denies that her motivation had anything to do with her own legal battles and there was no linkage to her own legal defense.  A article authored by RERcontributor James Keller, gave the timeline of Dr. Pressley’s legal case that was in front of the Texas 3rd Circuit of Appeals at the time of the open records request in dispute.

In Keller’s RER article, he reports:

“The lower trial court dismissed her election contest case ‘for lack of evidence’ and fined her personally $40K and her attorney $50k, later offering to lift the draconian fines if she would not appeal the case.

But she did appeal the case in 2015, and gave oral arguments in April 2016, and the Austin Third Court finally ruled 8 months later, after the 2016 General Election, on December 23 – the Day that Governments ‘take out the trash’ while no one is watching. The Austin Third Court upheld the lower court, and added $25k to the fine!  Make no mistake, a message was sent to any candidate who believes or knows that their election was stolen – don’t even think about it. Meanwhile, a major voting equipment manufacturer is lobbying hard to prevent a paper ballot requirement.”

As the above excerpt points out, Pressley appealed her case all the way back in 2015.  More importantly, oral arguments for the appeal were complete in April of 2016 and the case was in the hands of the judges for six months by the time Pressley submitted her open records request to the Travis County Elections office.

Apparently, there is something about the Pressley legal case that causes much concern at various levels of governance that’s in charge of election integrity.

In this RERhotclip, Dr. Pressley gives the precise reasons and motivation that led her to submit the open records request.  Generally, she was investigating the systematic dismantling of safeguards that provide the ability to prevent and/or detect voting irregularities.  She was trying to find out why operatives in the Texas Secretary of State’s office were unilaterally issuing waivers to Texas County Clerks to break Texas Election Code, and other stressful matters dealing with the proper conduct of Texas elections.


Copyright©2017 Raging Elephants Radio LLC