The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The state’s law requiring that voters furnish a photo ID before casting a ballot won’t be in effect for the May 29 primary. Stakeholders expected as much, but the decision was solidified when a U.S. District Court in D.C. set a July 9 trial date for a case in which Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit to have the law implemented immediately. That lawsuit was filed in January, but Abbott recently amended the petition to directly challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which mandates that the Department of Justice or the federal courts review laws that affect voting practices in 16 states. Texas filed its petition for preclearance in July but was denied the request earlier this month. The department ruled that the state did not submit enough information to prove the bill would not infringe upon the voting rights of minorities, mainly Latinos and blacks.

A group of lawmakers and law enforcement officials have banded together to ask the Department of Defense for surplus military equipment. As troops are drawn down oversees, massive amounts of equipment need to be shipped and either sold or stored. Border officials think some of that equipment could be put to good use in their skirmishes against drug cartels and in preventing spillover violence from Mexico. U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, introduced a bill in the House that would direct the Department of Defense to make 10 percent of the equipment returned from Iraq available for patrolling the southern border. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and 17 sheriffs from the border regions of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona expressed support for Poe’s proposal.

The Daily Texan was drawn into the national conversation about the death of Trayvon Martin when it published a controversial political cartoon on Tuesday. Stephanie Eisner, the cartoonist, who drew a mother reading to her child, “And then ... the big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy,” said she had attempted to point out that coverage of the event had become sensationalized. The editorial board was inundated with criticism and complaints and offered a statement saying that while it did not agree with the artist, it was the board’s policy to publish the varying views of its cartoonists and columnists.

Response to a study published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzing school standardized test results has been tepid in Texas. The Texas Education Agency responded to the questions about cheating by questioning the methodology of the study and stating that the agency’s policy is to let individual districts investigate allegations of cheating. Houston and Dallas Independent School Districts, as well as several border districts, showed scores that were suspiciously high. The Atlanta newspaper has conducted similar studies in the past and uncovered patterns that led to the discovery of widespread cheating in Atlanta. Officials in the Houston and Dallas districts detailed the steps they were taking to ensure that no cheating occurred.

The King Street Patriots are not a non-profit corporation, according to a state district judge in Austin, but are instead an unregistered political action committee that has been aiding Republican poll-watching efforts. The group was challenging several of the state's campaign finance laws; Judge John Dietz upheld the laws, ruling in favor of the Texas Democratic Party. KSP will appeal. 

Gov. Rick Perry came out in favor of Pink Slime, traveling to Nebraska to show his support for a meat company that manufactures that "lean finely textured beef" that is used to stretch hamburger and other meats while lowering their overall fat contest. The product has been under attack, with the company losing customers, since publicity about it went viral this week.