Five stories that have North Texas talking: more colleges don’t want campus carry; Texas is suing to block Syrian refugees; the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is under the microscope; and more.
More Texas private colleges are opting out of the state’s new controversial campus carry law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses. St. Mary’s University in San Antonio will continue to ban guns from its campus, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio is expected to act Thursday on a recommendation to opt out. Rice University announced Monday it was opting out. Texas Christian University said last month it was doing the same. Guns will likely stay banned at Trinity University in San Antonio, Austin College in Sherman and Paul Quinn College in Dallas, the Texas Tribune reported this fall. Baylor University president Ken Starr said last month he has "little doubt" that the Waco college will also opt out. Other private colleges, including Southern Methodist University, are studying the matter. The campus carry law was approved by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature but which private universities can forgo. The law takes effect next August, and only applies to concealed weapon license-holders. Public universities can't opt out, but lawmakers included a provision letting them designate "gun-free" zones. [Associated Press/KERA]
- Texas is suing to block Syrian refugees. The Texas Tribune reports: “Texas has gone to federal court in its efforts to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, filing suit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement nonprofit. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton claims the federal government and the International Rescue Committee — one of about 20 private nonprofits that have a state contract to resettle refugees in Texas — are violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of two Syrian families. One such family is expected to arrive in Texas as soon as Friday.” [Texas Tribune]
- The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is under the microscope. The Dallas Morning News reports: “City and pension fund officials are trying to figure out how to fix a system that is carrying billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities and needs cash now, according to a major briefing before the Dallas City Council [Wednesday]. Some of that money could come from public safety workers and some of it could come from taxpayers, despite statements from Mayor Mike Rawlings that the city’s residents shouldn’t be on the hook. On Wednesday the Dallas City Council listened as the shaky state of the pension fund was dissected. According to one accounting, it has $3 billion in assets and $8 billion in liabilities — an upside-down figure that threatens to break the system in 15 years if something isn’t done soon. During that briefing the fund’s new executive director, Kelly Gottschalk, told the council the board has hired a law firm to investigate fund mismanagement dating back at least a decade.” [The Dallas Morning News]
- Thieves stole items from a refugee family. WFAA-TV reports: Mukhtar Ahmad and his family “arrived from Afghanistan 20 days ago and settled in a North Dallas apartment complex known as a haven for refugees. They expected to be safer here than anywhere in the world. Early Monday … someone broke into the family's apartment in the middle of the day while they were registering the girls for school. Ahmad said more than $5,000 was stolen -- money they brought with them from Afghanistan, with which to buy a car. But that was just the beginning of what was taken.” A phone, computer, hard drive and TV were also stolen. Learn more about how you can help the family.
- Lots of people chug beers in Austin, but at the Beer World Championships, folks drink and run. The Austin American-Statesman reports: “Canada’s Lewis Kent and Michigan’s Erin O’Mara smashed the men’s and the women’s records, respectively, during the second annual FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships on Tuesday night in downtown Austin. ‘It’s all about chugging. It’s about being able to drink and then just go,’ said Austinite Andrea Fisher, who placed second in the elite women’s race, contested like the elite men’s on a quarter-mile loop through an American-Statesman parking lot. ‘I knew it was going to be tough when I got a warning after my third beer foamed over.’” [Austin American-Statesman]
The Associated Press contributed to this report.