The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
Over the weekend, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party resigned, even though he was set to serve until June 2018.
Jonathan Tilove, the chief political writer for the Austin-American Statesman, explains why Tom Mechler decided to step down early.
“He mostly cited personal matters,” says Tilove, including sepnding more time with family, and business demands from his oil and gas concerns.
But Tilove says there’s a political subtext in Mechler’s resignation letter – that the state Republican party needs to get past its infighting “and treat each other with more kindness.”
“Tom is from Amarillo,” Tilove says, noting “he’s a pretty sweet guy. And I think the rough and tumble of this, and the fact that there was a lot of acrimony directed at him, inevitably in a divided party – it made him wonder whether this was the best way to spend his life.”
Tilove says while the Republican party is still dominant in Texas, Mechler did issue a warning on his way out – the same warning his predecessor gave to him.
According to Tilove, that warning was this: “if the party doesn’t begin to look more like the state of Texas demographically, then its period of hegemony may draw to a close. And that they need to involved – particularly – in growing their Hispanic support.”
The State Republican Executive Committee, made up of two members from each state senate district, will choose Mechler’s successor.
Early this morning, the Texas Senate approved a bill that would allow faith-based child welfare agencies to turn away prospective adoptive or foster parents due to the organization’s religious beliefs.
Last night, Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, objected to the bill, arguing it would allow agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. “And because every Texan is entitled to equal treatment under the law,” Sen. Menendez said, “I don’t we should think we should follow a different course when comes to any type of potential discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, gender-identity, or religion – especially at taxpayer expense.”
Supporters of the bill say it protects agencies exercising sincerely held religious beliefs, and encourages more people to adopt and foster.
Also this weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott held a bill-signing ceremony at a church in the Woodlands.
That bill – now law – protects pastors’ sermons from government subpoena power.
The push for the legislation goes back to 2014, when the City of Houston subpoenaed five sermons during the political fight over an anti-discrimination ordinance that ultimately failed to pass.