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Latino Voter Turnout, Gun Control, Planned Parenthood and Celebrity Drug Busts

Chris Eudaily
Texas Public Radio

Increasing voter turnout in the Texas Latino community - Ben Philpot, a reporter for KUT Austin and the Texas Tribune, explores some of the issues. Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler are trying to position themselves as defenders of a great Texas tradition: gun ownership. What happens if Texas Legislators win their court battle and zero-out state dollars for the Planned Parenthood clinics? A celebrity tour bus rolls into the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca and the there’s a drug bust that makes national headlines.

Increasing voter turnout in the Texas Latino community

Compared to other states with a large Latino population – like California and New Mexico – the Texas Latino voting level is lackluster to say the least.

"It's got to reach a point where Hispanics believe that this is a normal thing to do (voting) that you get up on election day or you get up during early voting and you go vote because you just have to do it," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa about the culture shift that needs to happen.

Focus groups have found that one reason that Latinos don’t vote is that they feel the system is rigged and they don’t have faith in the integrity of the election process. Why would Texas Latinos feel so strongly about election corruption? It’s because South Texas has a long and colorful history of ballot stuffing and the buying and selling of votes – a history that continues to plague the region to this day.

"Voter Turnout Efforts Clash With History in South Texas"

By Ben Philpot, a reporter for KUT Austin and the Texas Tribune

Cruz and Sadler "fired up" About Gun Control

Candidates for the open Texas U.S. Senate seat Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler are trying to position themselves as defenders of a great Texas tradition: gun ownership. Both say they oppose the reinstituting of a ban on owning assault weapons, and both Republican Cruz and Democrat Sadler have produced photos of themselves brandishing guns.

KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports Sadler in particular is still “fired up” about the issue.

Watch the video below and click here to read the full story.

Texas Legislature vs. Planned Parenthood

The leadership of Texas is dead set on eliminating Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program, but what happens if they win their court battle and zero-out state dollars for the Planned Parenthood clinics? Tens of thousands of low-income women across the state would lose access to contraceptives and basic health care, leading to more pregnancies and taxpayer-financed births – that’s according to a new university study released this week.

Leighton Ku of George Washington University is the lead researcher for the study: “Deteriorating Access to Women’s Health Services in Texas: Potential Effects of the Women’s Health Program Affiliate Rule.

Planned Parenthood

"What we found was that in the areas where Planned Parenthood clinics exist, they are basically serving somewhere between half to around 80 percent of the women's health patients in their market areas. The net result would be that if the Planned Parenthood clinics were excluded - what we did in our study was that we contacted other large clinics in the areas where the Planned Parenthood clinics were operating, and said, "Are you prepared to increase the caseloads that you are serving?' And again, they may have to increase their caseloads, they may have to double them, they might have to, in some areas, increase them fivefold. Briefly speaking, the clinics we spoke with didn't appear to have the capacity to do that. Typically they were saying that they were already at or were close to the capacity that they have already."

"What this would mean is that if the planned parenthood clinics, which are currently the dominant health care providers for family planning services in the Women's Health Program, if they are dropped from the program then what would happen is that tens of thousands of women who are now getting family planning services at those clinics would be stranded without an alternative place to receive care. What we would expect as a result of that is that we'd expect the number of unplanned births and pregnancies in Texas to go up considerably next year."

Ku said that they expect the number of unplanned births to go up 2,000 to 3,000 in that time span, and instead of Texas saving money by cutting the funding, it will cost the state additional money.

West Texas Check-Point Nabs Another Celebrity Drug Bust

A border patrol check-point on I-10 in Sierra Blanca found drugs and a gun on rapper Nelly's tour bus Wednesday night.

Nelly, whose birth name is Cornell Iral Haynes, was not charged but his body guard was arrested for possession of the marijuana and heroin and a loaded handgun.

The Hudspeth County sheriff's spokesman Rusty Flemming said the check point has netted a number of celebrities including Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Fiona Apple and Armand Hammer.

“A lot of people are amazed that five minutes ago they were rolling down the highway and now they are pulled over and about to be arrested," said Flemming. "We get a lot of people from California, Washington and other states where they are packing their medical marijuana card, and we have to let them know; you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto, you’re in Texas.”

Flemming said the officers in Sierra Blanca are not star struck by the celebrities and treat them like any other suspect, but he does want the Hollywood crowd to get the message when they cross the state line - don’t mess with Texas drug laws.

“This is a zero-tolerance state and we don’t honor those medical marijuana cards; and by the way, you are going to jail,” said Flemming.

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