Five stories that have North Texas talking: Lawmakers will debate “bathroom bill” at hearing; Joe Biden will speak at SXSW; Austin’s iconic mural was defaced — again; and more.
Texas’ so-called “bathroom bill” has its first hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee today. The hearing comes a day after three separate press conferences were held regarding the legislation: one from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has pushed for the bill long before the 2017 legislative session began, and the other two from Senate Bill 6 opponents — the state’s business and transgender communities.
The bill, which Patrick has branded as the “Texas Privacy Act,” would mandate that transgender Texans use sex-segregated facilities, like public restrooms, that match the gender on their birth certificate. The bill would also block local ordinances that guarantee transgender people the right to use the facilities that matches their gender identity. Here’s what you need to know about it.
The Texas Association of Business, the NFL, several hundred artists and of course, transgender Texans, have publicly denounced the bill or warned against its potential detriment to the state’s economy and overall well-being of the community. Just one Democrat lawmaker has gone on the record in support of the bill. In the latest UT/Texas Tribune poll, 39 percent of Texans said it’s important for the Legislature to pass a such a law, while 51 percent said it’s not. Watch the hearing live. [KERA News, The Texas Tribune]
- From a country town to a booming suburb, the city of Frisco has transformed over the last quarter century. The same goes for its schools. Like the city itself, the district is growing rapidly. Frisco ISD has 68 schools, and enrollment is projected to hit 66,000 students by 2020. Established in 2006, Liberty High School in Frisco is the youngest of the four schools featured in our series: Race, Poverty and the Changing Face of Schools. Over the years, Liberty has made changes to accommodate its diverse student body. For example, a prayer room was established for Muslim students to use during the day so they wouldn’t miss class. [KERA News]
- Former Vice President Joe Biden will give a speech at South by Southwest about efforts to end cancer. Organizers announced Monday that Biden will discuss plans for his new cancer-fighting initiative during the interactive portion of the festival on Sunday. “Biden has said recently that the initiative will focus on improving data standards to help researchers, work with community care organizations to improve access to care and push to ensure patients can afford treatments,” The Associated Press reports. He has focused on improving cancer research efforts since his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2015. [The Associated Press]
- This North Texas family is still waiting for answers about whether nearby gas production caused their water well to explode. More than two and a half years ago, the Murray family’s water well exploded at their Palo Pinto ranch. Their burns from the explosion have healed and scarred but they still lack a trusted source of water and word from state officials about what caused the disaster in the first place. The Texas Tribune reports: “Outside experts have linked the explosion to nearby gas drilling. The Railroad Commission won’t comment on details of its investigation, other to confirm that it remains open.” Read more about the Murrays. [The Texas Tribune]
- Austin’s iconic “I Love You So Much” mural was vandalized for the third time. Someone spray painted an expletive over the mural on the wall of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress overnight Sunday, according to KVUE in Austin. The simple red mural has been a popular photo backdrop for tourists and locals alike for years. The artwork was being repainted and restored Monday and should be as good as new by today. This is the third reincarnation of the mural since it was created in 2010 by local artist Amy Cook. It was first vandalized in 2011 and again in 2015, according to Eater Austin. [KVUE, Eater Austin]
— Mike Perchick (@MichaelPerchick) March 6, 2017