The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
Senator John Cornyn wants to improve background check reporting
Texas Senator John Cornyn plans to introduce background check legislation after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs. The bill would encourage federal agencies to quickly upload criminal conviction records to a national database, which is something they’re already required to do. Despite the fact that requirement is already in place, Senator Cornyn said it’s still a problem. He spoke on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
“According to the Department of Justice the number of these records that are actually uploaded is staggeringly low,” Cornyn said. “That is unacceptable and it must change.”
The Sutherland Springs gunman was convicted of a violent crime while in the Air Force, but that was not picked up by federal background checks, allowing him to purchase firearms.
All seven constitutional amendments on November ballot approved
Texans approved all seven proposed amendments to the state constitution during Tuesday’s election. The amendments cover a range of issues.
For example, Proposition 1 will lower property taxes for disabled veterans and their families. Another, Proposition 7, will allow credit unions and other financial institutions to provide a prize raffle to encourage Texans to open savings accounts.
Each of the amendments received overwhelming voter approval, something that is typical in constitutional elections.
Annual Jewish Film Festival celebrates community
The 15th annual Austin Jewish Film Festival is underway in Central Texas.
David Finkel is co-director of the festival. He explains what makes a film “Jewish” when they’re picking which ones to feature.
“It doesn’t have to have a bar mitzvah or a bat mitzvah. What makes a film Jewish on one level, some of the subject matter may be overtly Jewish.” Finkel adds, “It may be that it was a Jewish filmmaker – it might just be that the sensibilities resonate with Jewish people – helping to repair the world, seeing a just society, things like that.”
One of the festival’s sponsors is personal fitness trainer Tobi Taub.
She grew up in Arlington where she and her sister were the only Jewish students in their high school. She says, “We had to go to Fort Worth to go to synagogue or to go to services.” She adds that’s part of why it’s special to have this Austin festival and see the Jewish community in the area grow and thrive.
One of the films featured in this Central Texas festival actually comes from a Houston filmmaker. It’s called “Dear Cancer: Love Stacy.” It’s about Stacy Middleman, a BRCA2 gene carrier who has survived breast cancer twice.
Stacey Summers directed the film. She says it was important to tell this story.
“Being Jewish, there’s a higher risk of being a BRCA gene carrier and so we wanted to talk about genetic testing and how important that is to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.”
Stacy Middleman says it’s tough to watch the film because the experience is still raw, but her story is bigger than herself. “Sadly it’s a universal experience for a lot of people and families and friends,” Middleman says.
And that’s the point of the festival which runs through Friday – it tells stories about the Jewish experience meant to engage that community and beyond.