Houston, Can You Hear Me Now?

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 17, 2016 10:26 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

When Houston drivers hit the city’s tunnels they shouldn’t really have to ask: “Can you hear me now?”

Houston Public Media’s Eddie Robinson explains that the city’s tunnels have upgraded cell phone service and wi-fi, thanks to a collaboration among the nation’s four largest cell phone providers – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

“The four companies installed a multi-million-dollar antenna system in the tunnels. They also added an emergency communications system that channels calls directly to the police or fire department.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said this was “a public safety improvement.”

Bexar County hit a major milestone recently: one million registered voters. It’s the fourth Texas county to tally a million voters. In fact, voter registration is up across the state this year.

James Russell, writer for QuorumReport.com, says the uptick in registration is tied to two things.

“It’s a presidential election year and (there’s) rapid growth across the state,” he says. “The Dallas County elections administrator suggested there could be a lot of concern with two relatively unpopular presidential candidates at the top of the ballot… Texas has a very poor – I believe it’s one of the worst – voter turnout rate in the country. But if there is such dramatic growth in counties like Tarrant County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, I think the question is, Are these people moving from states where voting is almost a cultural ritual? Or is it really just people moving into places with lower property taxes?”

It’s definitely a game of wait and see: “And then a hope and pray that there are enough voting machines in precinct.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says it’s okay for a Montgomery County Justice of the Peace to open his court sessions with a prayer. He issued an opinion this week saying it doesn’t violate the First Amendment. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against the practice back in 2014.