(Updated) Texas Rep. Villalba Blocks Student Journalist on Twitter For Asking Him a Question

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Dylan Hollingsworth
These are the guys Villalba's trying to stop. The cop-watchers.
Update March 23: Villalba unblocked Rhoads on Saturday and promised her an exclusive after the bill gets its committee hearing on March 26.

Jason Villalba's taken a lot of heat for HB 2918. Some of it's been deserved -- even Villalba himself admitted to The Dallas Morning News that the bill, which limits how non-reporters can record police, was drafted poorly -- and some of it hasn't. Brett Sanders, founder of First Amendment Fridays on YouTube and friend of Open Carry Tarrant County's Kory Watkins , accused Villalba of being a Nazi, which is totally uncool.

Much of the invective spewed in Villalba's direction has come from social media, specifically Twitter, and it seems the state representative, or whatever staffer runs his Twitter account, has gotten a little trigger-happy with the block button.

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Texas AG Paxton Really, Really Doesn't Want to Give Same-Sex Couples Family Leave

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Fry1989
On March 26, the U.S. Department of Labor will change the definition of the word "spouse" as it's used in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Any person legally married to another person in any state will become eligible for the spousal benefits provided for in the act. The department is changing the definition to bring the FMLA in line with a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that part of a federal law limiting the definition of spouse to straight couples was unconstitutional.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is not about to just let that happen. Allowing gay employees of businesses and organizations covered by the FMLA to take unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a sick spouse is just too much for Paxton to bear, so he's sued the United States of America in federal court.

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Texas Senate Passes Campus Carry, Shows We Have The Government We Deserve

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Wiki Commons
Now applies to the poors college campuses.
Nothing, it seems, trumps property rights. Not even the God-given right to carry a handgun anywhere you goddamn please that Republicans repeatedly cite.

The Texas Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to approve so-called "campus carry" the second piece of major gun legislation the body has given the go-ahead this week. In addition to being able to carry their handgun in hip-holster, gun owners with concealed handgun licences have now been approved by the senate to carry their guns onto Texas' public college campuses, which have previously been gun-free zones. Private schools retain the autonomy to determine if they want firearms on campus or not.

Brian Birdwell, the Granbury Republican who authored the bill, insisted under repeated questioning from Democrats that he wasn't privileging those kids getting private educations, he was just respecting their schools' property rights. Exempting Baylor had nothing to do with its being one of the largest private employers in Birdwell's district, of course.

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Senate Passes Open Carry, Much to Open Carry Tarrant County Leader Kory Watkins' Chagrin

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Wiki Commons
Not good enough for the come-and-take-it crowd.
Kory Watkins is like the kid who got a Zune instead of an iPod for Christmas. The Open Carry Tarrant County leader is upset -- very, very upset -- that the Texas Senate passed a bill yesterday that would legalize the open carrying of handguns in the state.

Watkins is mad because the bill, passed on a 20-11 party line vote, requires that open carriers have a license for the handgun they're carrying in their hip or shoulder holster.

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DFW State Rep. Jonathan Stickland Wants to End No-Knock Warrants, Rid Texas of NSA

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Jonathan Stickland via Facebook
Jonathan Stickland, Unfair Park's favorite former fetus.
Friday, Unfair Park's love/hate feelings about state Representative Jonathan Stickland took another turn. The Bedford Republican introduced a couple of bills on the last day of filing, one to cut off utilities to any National Security Agency facility in Texas and another, to make so-called "no knock" warrants illegal in the state, that has us leaning towards love.

Of course, the guy also replaced his office sign with one designating him a "former fetus" and called Planned Parenthood "child murderers" early last week and wants to legalize the licensed open carry of handguns. D Magazine has called him one of the three worst North Texas state legislators.

So we have a sort of Ike-and-Tina thing going on here.

See also: Bedford State Rep. Calls Himself a "Former Fetus," Accuses Planned Parenthood of Murder

Still, let's give credit where credit is due. In addition to the two bills introduced Friday, Stickland is also trying to get red-light cameras banned. He actually means it when he talks about protecting privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

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Dallas State Rep. Anchia Files Bills to Kneecap Trinity Toll Road

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Mark Graham
State Representative Rafael Anchia and Mike Rawlings
Rafael Anchia has backed up claims that he would listen to his Texas House district when it comes to the Trinity toll road.

Early Friday, Anchia filed legislation that would prevent the Texas Department of Transportation from providing funding for the Trinity roll road and require the road proposal to undergo an environmental review.

Seeing as the road is underfunded by around $1 billion, it's hard to see the thing getting built without TxDOT funds.

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Bedford State Rep. Calls Himself a "Former Fetus," Accuses Planned Parenthood of Murder

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Jonathan Stickland via Facebook
Aren't we all.
Wednesday is Planned Parenthood lobby day at the state capitol in Austin. As you might expect, it's brought out the best in our favorite local state rep, fetal gun rights advocate and constitutional scholar Jonathan Stickland.

See also: State Rep. Jonathan Stickland Swears He Wasn't Threatening to Shoot People, Just Wishing Fetuses Had Guns

Stickland took Wednesday as the opportunity to replace the sign outside his capitol office with an official looking number that identifies himself as a "former fetus."

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller Is the Best

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www.texasagriculture.gov
Pop quiz: How many horse's patoots do you see in this picture of Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller?
It's only natural for Texas' urban/suburbanites to assume that the choice of agriculture commissioner has little bearing on their lives. This is false. City dwellers eat food, which is grown on farms. They fill their cars at gas pumps and weigh their produce on grocery scales, both of which the office polices for accuracy. Sometimes, they realize that the former ag commissioner has become the longest-serving governor in state history. But perhaps the most important role of the ag commissioner when it comes to urban Texas -- and one that was unfortunately mostly neglected by recent officeholder Todd Staples -- is as a source of entertainment. The ag commissioner should be a folksy parody of the real Texas -- riding horses, wearing Stetsons, disparaging President Obama with a friendly drawl.

This is why Sid Miller is the best, the Platonic ideal of what the Texas agriculture commissioner should be. One glance at his official campaign portrait, which looks like it might have been taken at the Stephenville Walmart but which actually bears a Lifetouch watermark, should be proof enough. Miller is the spitting image of J.R. Ewing, if J.R. Ewing ate more hamburgers. He even wears a Texas flag lapel-pin!


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With All Other Problems Solved, Texas State Rep Wants To Tell You Which Bathroom to Use

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Nickcider13
Like the folks who rose up against Plano's non-discrimination ordinance, Republican Texas Representative Debbie Riddle is quite concerned with which public restroom you choose to use.

Riddle introduced a bill Friday that mandates that anyone over the age of 12 commits a Class A misdemeanor when he or she uses a restroom "designated for use by persons of a gender that is not the same gender as the individual's gender." There is a carve-out for those accompanying kids under 8 years old, but that's it.

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Among Greg Abbott's Priorities for Texas: Open Carry and, No Joke, Women's Health

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Gage Skidmore
The gov.
Newly elected Texas Governor Greg Abbott laid out his most comprehensive vision yet for the state during his first "state of the state" address Tuesday morning. Much of what he said was expected. He hopes to slash spending almost across the board, seal off the border by hiring more Department of Public Safety troopers and promised to "reject any budget that does not include genuine tax relief to Texas employers and job creators." He praised the Texas economy. It's thriving, Abbott said because freedom.

"The reason Texas leads the nation is because of our greatest natural resource -- the people of Texas -- who've built a strong and diversified economy. Texas leads the nation as a beacon of individual liberty and economic opportunity. Our job is to make sure we keep it that way," he said

That doesn't mean Abbott didn't veer off the well-beaten path a couple of times. He stated his intention to focus on women's health, something that was more than a little confusing considering his robust defense of Texas' anti-abortion legislation, HB2.

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