Five stories that have North Texas talking: GOP legislator proposes bathroom restrictions inside Capitol; Dallas finally might get more bike lanes; Cowboys games soothe this sick baby; and more.
A controversial bill that would require transgender Texans to use bathrooms coinciding with their gender at birth dominated the second day of the state Legislature Wednesday. Senate Bill 6, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham and championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has already deterred at least three authors from accepting a state honor, according to The Associated Press. Dallas civic leaders Wednesday warned of further backlash in the sports world that could hurt the state financially. According to AP: “Phillip Jones, president of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he doesn't think leagues will hesitate to steer big sporting events elsewhere if Texas goes the way of North Carolina.”
Also, during a House floor debate Wednesday on a standard housekeeping resolution for the House chamber, state Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Republican from Tyler, tried to implement the restrictions on bathrooms inside the Capitol building — without success. Texas doesn’t have any transgender lawmakers. The Texas Tribune reports: “The House scuffle could have served as a test vote of the lower chamber's views on the bathroom issue. House Speaker Joe Straus has downplayed the urgency of the bathroom legislation, saying it's not ‘the most urgent concern of mine.’ And on Tuesday, in his opening remarks of the session, he appeared to take a veiled jab at the bill, telling members to focus on policies that ‘invite economic activity’ to the state and ‘not turn it away.’” [The Associated Press, The Texas Tribune]
- Dallas is moving forward with its bike plan with or without a “bike czar.” Since engineer Ashley Haire left for Denver in November 2015, the city hasn’t been able to find her replacement to design the bike lanes called for in the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, The Dallas Morning News reports. Wednesday the city council approved spending $171,000 to hire a consultant with Kimley-Horn and Associates to design the eight miles of bike lanes that would spread throughout the city. Although the new contract gets the plan going again after a yearlong stall, Jared White, the only City Hall employee overseeing the plan, says it’s not ideal. [The Dallas Morning News]
- The Dallas Public Library has committed to welcoming some of its most marginalized visitors. Homeless men and women frequent the downtown Dallas library branch because it offers a safe space to spread out and do constructive activities or rest. Library employees started engaging with homeless visitors more intentionally about five years ago, and they’ve learned that each person has a different story. Since then, there have been fewer outbursts and complaints. On day’s when it’s especially cold, staffers open early and serve coffee. Read more from KERA’s Courtney Collins. [KERA News]
- Parents of a baby hospitalized with a congenital heart defect turn to an unlikely source to soothe her: the Dallas Cowboys. Three-month-old Lola Catron has already undergone heart surgery twice since her Oct. 4 birth, WFAA-TV reports. While sitting with Lola at Fort Worth's Cook Children's Hospital, her parents discovered that Cowboys games on Sundays had a calming effect on her. Now, whenever Lola is in pain from headaches brought on by the surgeries, Laura Catron finds a replay of a Cowboys game online. She has shared a Facebook video of a crying Lola settling down while watching the Cowboys. [WFAA-TV, The Associated Press]
- Eco-friendly Plano and Richardson residents can rest easy now that recycling services have resumed. The City of Plano had to dispose of recyclable materials in the landfill for nearly two weeks after a fire broke out at the local Republic Services recycling center. After the Dec. 28 fire, officials couldn't find an alternative location, so services were suspended until further notice. Services started again Tuesday in Plano and will resume today in Richardson. Republic Services found a temporary site to process recyclable waste. With services back up, the City of Plano says it will prevent 90 tons of materials from going into the landfill each day. [KERA News]