News Roundup: The Texas House Voted Unanimously To Strengthen Capitol Sexual Harassment Policy

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartJanuary 10, 2019 12:50 pm

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

The Texas House voted Wednesday to strengthen policies on handling harassment complaints. Under the new rules, investigations are to be conducted by a legislative committee with the power to subpoena witnesses. Complaints against legislators would be turned over to an independent investigator. Rep. Charlie Geren has long served as chairman of the Committee on House Administration.

In a statement aired by KUT Austin Thursday morning, Geren said: “The House does not tolerate sexual harassment by members, by staff or by interns, and so we’re updating the policy and we’re going to update the training so it will be more rigorous and [it] will be required for all members and staff to take it every two years, within 30 days.”

The vote to adopt the policy was unanimous. Rep. Donna Howard of Austin served as co-chair of the group that drafted the policy.

Tarrant County Republicans will decide Thursday whether to remove their party Vice Chairman Shahid Shafi. The vote comes several months after a small group within the county party pushed to remove Shafi from his post for being Muslim. KERA’s Miguel Perez explains:

Soon after Shafi was appointed vice chair last July, a fellow Tarrant County Republican was urging leadership to reconsider.

Unfounded suspicions were raised over Shafi’s [alleged] connection to Islamic terror groups. He’s repeatedly denied those charges, saying he won’t allow, quote: “A small group of closed-minded people to damage” the party he’s served for years.

Shafi, a Southlake city council member, has the support of a number of prominent Texas Republicans like  Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports the debate over Shafi has made it difficult for the county party to raise money, as some donors wait to see how the situation plays out.

The party’s executive committee will vote on the motion to remove Shafi as vice chair Thursday evening.

In the wake of the Lifetime channel’s documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” two Dallas radio stations have banned the singer’s music on their airwaves.

Service Broadcasting Corporation says that stations KRNB and K104 will be pulling the R&B hitmaker’s songs because of accusations of sex crimes against women and underage girls.

KRNB host Claudia Jordan explained the decision on air, saying of Kelly’s work: “It just has a different meaning now, and I just feel like in good conscience, we just can’t continue to support this guy. We just cannot.”

It’s not the first time that Kelly has been accused of indecency. In 2002, he was charged on 21 counts of child pornography, but was later acquitted.

Then, in 2017, a BuzzFeed investigation spoke with parents who said their children were being held by Kelly against their will in a so-called sex cult.

Kelly is now under criminal investigation in Georgia, following the allegations in the documentary.