What the hell:
Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.
It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.
The study was conducted on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who said the study was voluntary. However, off duty police officers - in uniform - were directing drivers to pull over then asking for cheek swabs or a blood draw. At the very least, they wanted drivers to submit to a breathalyzer.
The NSA is even claiming sobriety checkpoints as precedent justifying their metadata surveillance (Source). When does it stop?
(h/t: Grits for Breakfast)
The Texas Secretary of State drew the order for the 9 constitutional amendments Texas voters will be asked to approve on November 5th (Source):
Proposition 1: HJR 62 - “This amendment specifically authorizes a tax exemption for all or part of the market value of the residences of spouses of military members who are killed in action.”
Proposition 2: HJR 79 - This “would eliminate a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund. Neither is in operation.”
Proposition 3: HJR 133 - “The amendment would extend the tax exemption period on storing aircraft parts in the state and would provide more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers.”
Proposition 4: HJR 24 - This “authorize[s] the Legislature to give a partial property tax exemption on charity-donated residences to disabled veterans or their surviving spouses.”
Proposition 5: SJR 18 - This “allow[s] homeowners age 62 or older to use reverse mortgages to purchase residences.”
Proposition 6: SJR 1 - “The amendment would create two funds to help finance key projects in the state water plan by pulling about $2 billion from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund [aka Rainy Day Fund].”
Proposition 7: HJR 87 - This “authorize[s] home-rule municipalities to choose how to fill city council vacancies if the positions have less than 12 months remaining in a three- or four-year term.”
Proposition 8: HJR 147 - This “repeal[s] a constitutional provision authorizing the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.”
Proposition 9: SJR 42 - This “authorize[s] the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use additional disciplinary actions — including public admonition, warning, reprimand, or required additional training or education — against judges or justices after a hearing.”
Of these, Proposition 6 is arguably the most important as it deals with using a portion of the Rainy Day Fund to pay for water projects across the state.
Click on all the links above to learn more about the proposed amendments and put November 5th on your calendar.
The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the same. - Article VII
Two hundred twenty-five years ago to the day, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the constitution. Only a fragment of the New Hampshire ratifying convention debate remains (that I have been able to find), and it is here.
That’s the argument made in a lawsuit moving through the Texas courts (Source). Currently, the question is whether or not the plaintiff has the standing to bring the suit; you can read the petition here and the response here. Earlier this year, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said that the Texas Constitution should be amended to allow for non-partisan judicial elections (Source). State Sen. Jeff Wentworth also filed legislation to eliminate straight ticket voting (Source). The bill by Sen. Wentworth was SB139. It was referred to the State Affairs committee, where it sat all session. Wentworth also filed similar legislation in the 81R [SB317 (it made it out of State Affairs, but was never voted out of the Senate)] and the 80R [SB134 (it was not voted out of State Affairs)].
Sen. Wentworth’s argument for eliminating straight ticket voting is that voters will educate themselves about the candidates and make a more informed choice. I don’t think this is necessarily the case (especially in a county like Harris where hundreds of judges are on the ballot and voters do not have the time or the resources to educate themselves on every judge). A certain percentage of voters identify with a party whose values and positions with which they agree and rather than tick each R, D, G or L down the line, they have the ability to conveniently check one box. One can also vote a straight ticket and cross the lines to vote for another parties candidate for a particular office. Personally, as a hack, I like the straight ticket option, because it provides a fairly good measure for determining either parties base of support.