Texas Senate Aiming To Move Divisive Bills At Breakneck Pace

AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas Senate staged an unusual midnight floor session Thursday as conservatives who dominate the chamber rushed to revive abortion restrictions, school vouchers and a “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people before opponents have time to mobilize against them.

Senators passed bills allowing the Texas Medical Board and other state agencies to continue operating during the opening moments of just the third day of its month-long special legislative session.

“It’s a hurry because we have 30 days and 20 bills,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a former conservative talk radio host who oversees the Senate, told reporters. He even brought pizzas for his colleagues before work began around 12:15 a.m.

Clearing those agency oversight measures allows the Senate to tackle more divisive issues at breakneck speed, hence the late-night session. Patrick plans to ram more hot-button bills through committee and floor passage in mere days, even if it limits public input and legislative debate. That pace doesn’t guarantee any will become law, though, since the Texas House is moving more slowly with plenty of time left in an extra session running through Aug. 18.

The usually non-controversial agency bills failed during Texas’ 140-day regular session that ended Memorial Day, in part because Patrick wanted to force an overtime session so lawmakers could approve conservative bills that failed earlier this year.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott complied. He called the Legislature back to work in order to keep the agencies operating and then to tackle around 20 other priorities. Those include a “bathroom bill” requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, even though North Carolina largely rolled back a similar measure it approved last year amid national outcry and threats of boycotts that could cost the state millions.

Abbott followed the Senate’s Thursday move by releasing a proclamation around 1 a.m. expanding the special session’s workload even further to include proposals to improve Texas’ school finance system, which the all-Republican state Supreme Court declared barely constitutional last year.

“I’m immediately adding all the remaining items on my special session agenda,” Abbott said in a statement. Other bills he’d like passed would combat mail-in ballot fraud, prohibit union dues from being collected in public sector paychecks and impose limits on local governments’ abilities to raise property taxes, approve tree-cutting ordinances and annex territory.

Patrick wants the entire slate to clear the Senate quickly, further solidifying his reputation among conservatives.

“If you are following the Texas Senate, get your running shoes,” Trayce Bradford, president of the conservative grassroots Texas Eagle Forum, emailed supporters Thursday. “If you are tracking the Texas House, you might want to grab a good book.”

But many of the items being revived lacked the votes to be approved previously, and still do. The state House, which like the Texas Senate is Republican-controlled, rejected the upper chamber’s version of the bathroom bill and instead approved a scaled-back version applying only to schools, which itself failed.

House members also repeatedly defeated Senate proposals on school vouchers, which provide public money to students attending private schools, and have been far warier of other issues such as encroaching on local governments’ power.

The House should find common ground with the Senate on some key upcoming issues in coming weeks, but won’t move as fast. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus opposes the bathroom bill and some of Patrick’s other top priorities, and the pair has feuded publicly for weeks, potentially further bottling up legislation.

Democrats, meanwhile, have decried a lack of Senate transparency but don’t have the votes to slow the chamber down. They note that protesters turned out in force to decry much of the same legislation during the regular session, and are accusing Patrick of trying to ensure they don’t have enough advance warning to do so again.

Sen. Jose Menendez, a San Antonio Democrat, took to Twitter urging Texans: “Important! Unnecessary & misguided bills have been scheduled for public hearings-Come & make your voice heard.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Trinity Forest Adventure Park

CBS DFW – Just outside of Dallas a unique adventure awaits! Eat See Play’s Taryn Jones, took the Cadillac XT5 to a tree top play land. Trinity Forest Adventure Park is a combination of a traditional high ropes course and zip line canopy tour.

Are you ready to get off the ground?

First you have to step in, strap on, and gear up. Trinity Forest provides helmets harnesses and gloves.

All climbers get a quick safety lesson and learn how to use their gear. They even have a unique code word in case you get stuck in the trees.

“You have a problem, you need down, shout out fish sticks.” Explained course manager Mark Hammers, to the group.

After a quick ground lesson, it’s time to take on the canopy.

There are five different courses ranging from beginner to advanced. In total there are over seventy different obstacles, twenty different zip lines, and two free falls.

We started on one of the green courses. The series of tight ropes, cargo nets, and tire walks, lead you to the zip lines. After you challenge yourself on the ropes you get to sit back and glide through the trees.

Trinity Forest has a “locked on the line at all times” policy. They use a series of locks on the course making it hard to “accidentally detach” as you, self navigate the ropes.

The higher you go the harder the challenges get. If you’re brave the black course ends with a fifty foot free fall from the top of the canopy. (Trust me, it was a thrill)

The park can be fun for the whole family starting climbers as young as four. However, you should come prepared to break a sweat.

“Know that you’re outside… you need to remember that you’re going to be doing some physical exertion. so stay hydrated bring some snacks, come prepared to get dirty and have fun.” Says Mark.

A ticket allows you three hours to climb as much as you can. And remember, the staff is always below to lend a helping hand just in case you need to yell out “FISH STICKS.”

Taryn’s Tips for Trinity Forest:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and close toed shoes. I’d suggest longer shorts or pants so the harness isn’t rubbing on skin.
  • Pull back long hair in a low pony. Remember you’ll be wearing a helmet.
  • Apply sunscreen and bug repellent… This is the forest!
  • Bring a water bottle. They have water at the base of the course but if you don’t bring your own bottle you’re drinking it straight from the tap (Actually kind of fun)!
  • STAY HYDRATED! Don’t want to get dizzy on the course.
  • That being said, use the bathroom before you start. There’s no bathroom in the trees.
  • Listen to the staff. Especially when learning your gear.
  • Don’t be afraid to shout! Let staffers know if you need help or have a question. They’re incredibly friendly and encouraging. They want you to succeed on the course.
    Go at your own pace. The obstacles are challenging but you can do it.

**SECRET TIP** – There is more than one way to get across some obstacles and the easiest one might not be the most obvious.


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Cedar Hill Driver License Office To Close Permanently Friday

self driving Cedar Hill Driver License Office To Close Permanently Friday

(credit: CBS11)

GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Department of Public Safety will permanently close the Cedar Hill Driver License Office at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 21.

It will transfer that office’s personnel and resources to the Dallas-South Driver License Center.

This consolidation will help control costs, increase efficiency, and fully staff the Dallas South Driver License Center, which offers a greater range of services for the community, according to a DPS news release Thursday afternoon.

The 23,000 square-foot Dallas-South Driver License Center, which opened in 2015, features increased capacity with 42 work stations and new technology to more quickly and efficiently serve customers.

In addition, the facility offers both knowledge and driving-skills testing for commercial driver license applicants, the DPS says.

A new queuing system allows customers to remotely secure a spot in line prior to arriving at the office.

The Dallas-South Driver License Center is located 39025 LBJ Service Road, Dallas, TX 75232.

Many Texans are eligible to skip the trip to a driver license office altogether and instead take advantage of online services for driver license/ID card renewals, duplicates or address changes by clicking here.

Customers can also renew by phone at 1-866-357-3639.

The eligibility requirements for phone renewal and online renewal are the same.

The DPS says the fee is the same for online, in-person and telephone renewals.

Customers may renew their Driver License/Texas ID card one year early prior to their expiration date, which allows them to choose a convenient time that fits their schedule.


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Grand Prairie Company Recalls Coffee With Viagra-Like Substance

GRAND PRAIRIE (AP) — A Texas coffee company is recalling one of its roasts because it was making some men a bit too excited.

Bestherbs Coffee LLC issued the voluntary recall for its “New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee” after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found it contains desmethyl carbodenafil, which is similar to sildenafil in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

Bestherbs, which is based in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, distributed the coffee nationwide from July 2014 through June 2016. Some customers were buying it to help in the bedroom.

No injuries have been reported, but the FDA says the undeclared ingredient could interact with prescription medicine and lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Step Back In Time At Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s a sweet spot on the town square of Denton that’s like taking a step back in time.

Eat. See. Play. reporter Taryn Jones put on her poodle skirt and took the Cadillac XT5 to Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

Beth Marie’s is serving up more than 100 hundred flavors of cold creamy goodness. They have everything from traditional favorites to seasonal flavors with a twist. They are making everything by hand — the authentic way.

“It’s made with love. It’s made in a 1937 Emory Thomas ice cream machine. It’s made 10 gallons at at time… it’s 14-percent premium ice cream which makes it very rich and fluffy,” said General Manager Margaret Rich.

It’s not just the way it’s made that’s a throwback; the entire shop is a blast from the past. The checkerboard floor, marble counters, and shiny soda fountain make it feel like an ice cream parlor from days past.

“You get an old fashioned experience, like your grandparents had when they were growing up.

You just have the family feel when you walk in the door and they say welcome to Beth Marie’s,” said Rich.

Whether you get a banana split, an ice cream soda, or a big scoop on a waffle cone… picking out your favorite flavor is half the fun.

“My favorite flavor is the chocolate covered cherry ice cream,” hints Rich.

Beth Marie’s has two Denton locations but if you need your sugar fix quick you can also grab a pint at Central Market.


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Lawsuits Claim Texas Loopholes Allow Illegal Air Emissions

FORT WORTH (AP) — An environmental group has filed five federal lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to force it to alter Texas air pollution control permits that the group says have loopholes that allow for illegal emissions.

The suits filed Thursday by Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project target Texas-issued permits for the largest integrated petrochemical factory in the U.S.; three refineries near the Houston Ship Channel, including the largest petroleum refinery in the U.S.; and a coal-fired power plant east of Dallas.

The nonprofit earlier this month released an analysis of state records showing that Texas’ environmental regulatory agency had imposed financial penalties in less than 3 percent of nearly 25,000 illegal air pollution incidents from 2011 to 2016.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality called the analysis “misleading.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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