© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Matters: Leaving ERIC, Train Derailments and Flaws with the Death Row System

Ways To Subscribe

"Election integrity" has been the rallying cry for Texas Republican leaders since Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and launched a coup to overturn the results.

One stated concern for Governor Greg Abbott and others is maintaining the voter rolls and purging any name that didn’t belong. A system to do that is called the Electronic Registration Information Center – or ERIC for short.

But so far this year,
Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Missouri and West Virginia have left ERIC and Texas could soon be joining them.

There is no evidence that ERIC is flawed or doing anything wrong but it has become the object of fixation by some right wing big lie activists with a track record of spreading misinformation.

Covering the story is Natalia Contreras, a reporter for VoteBeat – a nonprofit newsroom reporting on elections and maintaining democracy in America.

Her story is “Conspiracy theory whirlwind threatens to blow Texas out of national program that keeps voter rolls updated.”

Rail Safety
On February 3, 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

Railcars burned for more than two days, with emergency crews then conducting a controlled burn of several railcars which released toxic gases into the air.

As a result, residents within a one-mile radius were evacuated, and an emergency response was initiated.

Eleven days after the derailment Governor Mike DeWine told reporters that he was not seeing any problems in the area and that President Joe Biden had offered federal assistance, but DeWine said that no further assistance was necessary.

Two days later DeWine released a statement saying after speaking with the White House, he requested more aid from federal agencies.

Aside from the botched response at the state level, there is concern that train safety deregulation during the Trump administration may have led to this disaster, which was avoidable.

And there’s rising anxiety that this kind of disaster – a toxic train that goes off the rails could happen anywhere – and not enough is being done to reduce that risk.

Arthur Wheaton is an expert on transportation industries and serves as director of labor studies at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Death Row Express
There are many questions surrounding the Texas Death Row system including: Why is Texas the leading state for sending inmates to be executed and why is Harris county the leading county for that in Texas?

And what might be the most pressing question is: Did the accused get a fair trial and a robust defense?

Jessica Schulberg a reporter for HuffPost investigates those questions.

Her story is “A Matter Of Life And Death - How Harris County, Texas, the execution capital of the country, sends poor people to death row.”

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