Houstonians Without Voter ID Are Mostly Black and Poor

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Dept. of Justice
Texas Voter ID Report

Texas' Voter ID law -- which requires that voters show election officials an approved and up-to-date photo ID in order to cast a ballot -- has long been a point of contention. Since the Lege passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, many of its opponents have questioned whether the law unfairly singles out minorities.

While a legal challenge kept Texas' law from taking effect in time for the 2012 election, the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder last year invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for Texas to implement its brand new(ish) voter ID law in time for the November 2014 general election. Another lawsuit filed last year in federal court that challenges the law is set to go to trial in Corpus Christi next week. If the state prevails, November 2014 could be Texas' first high-turnout election with a voter ID requirement.

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Survey: Most Prefer Astrodome Green Space Proposal to Leaving As Is...if Those are the Only Options

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The actual Astrodome.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo released a survey it conducted with the help of the University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy and Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy regarding how the public feels about the Astrodome. Not surprisingly, a good majority of them know that the Astrodome issue exists and have been paying attention to it. But, in truth, that is about the best information that can be gleaned from the survey because it doesn't really ask all the right questions.

What it does tell us is that a majority of those surveyed actually support the recently proposed initiative by the Texans and rodeo that turns the Astrodome into a wide open green space surrounded by columns taken from the Dome. This is clearly something the parties are pushing for ahead of the 2017 Super Bowl at NRG Stadium.

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Perry: ISIS Has (Maybe) Entered Texas Through Mexico Border

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If you live in Texas, ISIS might be a real threat--at least according to Gov. Rick Perry.

At an immigration forum in Washington on Thursday, and in a subsequent statement shot out by his federal political action committee, RickPAC, Perry stated that people affiliated with the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may have already capitalized on the United States' loosely-secured southern border with Mexico, using it to enter US soil.

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DA Candidates on Weed: Talking Points Over Data Points

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Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

Though marijuana possession remains a jailable crime in Harris County, the law of the land is shifting toward leniency for offenders. Both contenders in the November race for Harris County District Attorney have presented alternatives to convicting those caught with pot.

DA incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg agree that the old ways need to change, but they clash on how much. The confusion likely stems from the fact neither candidate has the numbers to back her plan. One lacks a cost-savings analysis, and the other has provided practically useless estimates.

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Gov. Rick Perry Poses, Grins for Mugshot

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In his mugshot taken Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse, Gov. Rick Perry sports that sly grin we've all come to know so well.

Perhaps that's because Perry thinks he's winning the public relations war that's erupted over his indictment. Following his indictment Friday on felony counts of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant, Perry called the charges "partisan political threats" that "rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution." Tony Buzbee, Perry's lead defense attorney, later called the indictment "nothing more than banana republic politics."

As Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer aptly points out, pundits across the country have followed suit, calling the indictment "unbelievably ridiculous," "sketchy," and even "weak sauce."

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Oops: Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Power, Coercion UPDATED

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Updated at end of this article with Rick Perry's statement on Saturday.

Well, Gov. Rick Perry still has great presidential hair, but now he's also been indicted on two felony counts.

Yep, that's right folks. It turns out that even the governor of the great state of Texas can't get away with using both the power of his office and tax-payer money to bribe an elected official to quit office. The Austin American-Statesman reports that on Friday a Travis County grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts -- one count of abuse of official capacity, a first degree felony, and one count of coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony.

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Equal Rights Law Bound for Trial After Pointless Hearing

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Photo by Susan Du
Anti-HERO lawyer Andy Taylor called Friday's hearing a great success. Nothing changes in Houston.

Legal jargon, heated accusations and random baseball metaphors aside, Friday's Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) hearing accomplished nothing. The law is suspended until its supporters and opponents duke it out at trial, set for January 2015.

HERO is Mayor Annise Parker's anti-discrimination law that gives legal protection to citizens who are maltreated because of their age, religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. Private businesses and government are subject to comply, but religious institutions are exempt.

Nevertheless, representatives of the religious right have banded together in an effort to repeal HERO ever since it became law in late May. Anti-HERO activists circulated a petition to put the ordinance on the November ballot for a referendum vote and gathered more than 50,000 signatures - well more than the 17,269 required for the measure. After review, the city found that only 15,249 were valid, trashing the petition.

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5 Tips for Rick Perry if He Insists on a 2016 Run

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Image by Monica Fuentes
Perry without his hair just feels wrong.

Fish swim and birds fly and politicians run for political office - these truths are pretty self-evident. But it still comes as a faint shock that Gov. Rick Perry popped up in Iowa this week lambasting President Obama. He's been sharing his views on troops in Iraq, he's been spouting off opinions on Israel. He is sending the National Guard to the border to deal with the "terrorists" (aka the kids that have been finding the border patrol and turning themselves in for months.) In short, he has been doing and saying all the things one traditionally does and says when one is planning to make another run for the White House.

We've been pondering all this and we have to say that if it must happen again, we have a few suggestions for the guy with the best hair in politics as he gears up (somehow, despite all good sense and with a very short memory) to most likely throw his hat in the presidential ring once more.


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[PHOTOS] Stop Patriarchy Protests Outside Harris County GOP Office

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Photos by Aaron Reiss

If the War Against Women is a national battle, Texas is ground zero.

That's according to Sunsara Taylor, a leader of Stop Patriarchy, a movement that is attempting end to the enslavement and degradation of women -- notably when it comes to the right to an abortion and the production of pornography.

"Roe v. Wade began in Texas, and the (pro-life constituency) plan(s) on ending it in Texas," Taylor said. "We came here to stand up against that."


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Five Texas Politicians Who Should Have Palin-style Internet Shows

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Photo by Bryan Williams
Palin got her own Internet channel; maybe Perry will be next.

We all thought Sarah Palin would be focused on seizing the White House, but this week she announced that she is seizing the Internet. Carpe diem! Or something.

Yep, the lovable former Alaska governor and infamous vice presidential candidate is offering herself up to the world via the Internet. You see, Palin believes that the media, that many-tentacled creature with its love of sound bites and politically correct filtering, has been keeping the real Palin from shining down directly on her audience. Well the filter is coming off and now you'll be able to get a dollop of Palin direct on her Internet channel by paying $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year.

As much fun as unmitigated and (theoretically) uncensored Palin will be, this got Hair Balls thinking of some Texas politicians we'd like to see spinning themselves out there in the Internet channel way. Here are the Top 5:


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