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Texas Matters: Voting Restrictions Pass, George Floyd Act Won't Be Law, De-Wormer Is Poison And Elon Musk Power

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House Speak Dale Phelan gavels the close of voting on SB1
State of Texas House of Representatives
House Speak Dale Phelan gavels the close of voting on SB1

Late Thursday night the Texas House of Representatives passed a version of SB1 — a controversial voter restriction bill. Rep. Andrew Murr, the Junction Republican authored the legislation and defended it during the 12 hours of debate.

But before the floor debate began Speaker Dale Phelan made an unusual request.

"As we debate SB1 I sure would appreciate members not using the word 'racism,'" he said.

Democrat Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas challenged why the bill is needed: "There is no reason for this bill. This is all about the furtherance of the Big Lie. And I want you to think for a minute with no examples of voter fraud."

During the floor debate there was an interesting exchange between Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) and Rep. Kyle Biedermann, a Republican from Fredericksburg. Zwiener proposed an amendment that would have prevented anyone who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol from being an assistant to a voter. Biedermann a supporter of Texas Secession attended the Trump rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The amendment is all about the insurrection that you’re claiming on Jan. 6, yet you were not there, you don’t know what happened,” Biedermann said. “All you do is listen to the liberal media. Is that correct? Where do you get your information?”

The measure ultimately failed to pass.

Sean Morales-Doyle of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law spoke to TPR about SB1 and its implications for voting rights in Texas.

George Floyd Act

On Sept. 1, more than 600 new laws passed in the last legislative session will go into effect. You will be able to carry a handgun without a permit or training. You will be able to buy beer and wine earlier on Sundays. Abortion is further restricted and banned after five weeks of pregnancy. Fact-based history of Texas oppression against Black Americans and Latinos can not be taught in schools. And many more. One law not going into effect on Sept. 1 is the Texas George Floyd act because it’s didn’t pass.

There was one police reform bill passed — police officers will now be required to keep their body-worn cameras on during investigations. This law was inspired by the death of Botham Jean, a black man who was shot dead in his own apartment by former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.

But no George Floyd Act. Durrel Douglas is an community organizer and executive director of Houston Justice.

COVID Ivermectin

The Texas Poison Center’s hotline is burning up with people concerned about COVID overdosing on livestock de-wormer.

The product is Ivermectin and the FDA is warning people not to ingest it but despite the warning the product is sold out at ranch and feed stores.

Dr. Shawn Varney, the Medical Director of Texas Poison Center, says people are calling in with severe symptoms.

“Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. However, you can have further problems, including mental status changes, coma, even seizures. And there have been deaths reported. No, I haven't seen any deaths here in Texas, but these are things that are reported by the manufacturer with people who use large doses,” Varney said.

Musk Power

Billionaire Elon Musk has made his money by being an innovator and a disruptor. With Tesla Motors he revolutionized the auto industry. SpaceX is sending rockets into orbit and landing them back on the ground. There are other examples and here’s the latest a new subsidiary of Tesla, called Tesla Energy Ventures, filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to sell electricity on the retail market.

Russell Gold writes about it. He’s an editor at Texas Monthly magazine.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi