Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. The last day of this year's regular session of the Texas Legislature — normally a celebratory, ceremonial affair — was disrupted by hundreds of protesters raising their ire about the state's new sanctuary cities immigration law. Meanwhile, tensions escalated among lawmakers on the House floor. The protesters, most of whom were wearing red, packed the gallery of the House of Representatives on Monday. While House members were reading resolutions honoring their staff and clerks, the protesters erupted into chants.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed into law a measure creating a statewide regulatory framework for ride-hailing companies, overriding local measures that prompted businesses such as Uber and Lyft to leave Austin and other cities. Representatives for Uber and Lyft have said the companies would resume operations in Austin Monday. "What today really is is a celebration of freedom and free enterprise," Abbott said during a signing ceremony. "This is freedom for every Texan — especially those who live in the Austin area — to be able to choose the provider of their choice as it concerns transportation." House Bill 100 undoes local rules that the two companies have argued are overly burdensome for their business models.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday promised to make an announcement "later this week" on whether he will call a special session. "I can tell you this, and that is when it gets to a special session, the time and the topics are solely up to the governor of the state of Texas, and we will be, if we have a special session, convening only on the topics that I choose at the time of my choosing," Abbott told reporters after a bill-signing ceremony in Austin. Monday is the last day of the regular session. Lawmakers still have not come to an agreement on property taxes and a "bathroom bill" that would regulate which restroom transgender Texans can use. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had named those issues priorities in the homestretch, and Patrick has pushed for a special session on them.
A view of the newly painted compass and piano key design, top left, at the Four Corners intersection in Bennington. Photo by Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner
" data-medium-file="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?fit=300%2C228&ssl=1" data-large-file="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?fit=610%2C464&ssl=1" src="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=610%2C464&ssl=1" alt="Bennington Four Corners" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=610%2C464&ssl=1 610w, https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=125%2C95&ssl=1 125w, https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=300%2C228&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=768%2C585&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?resize=150%2C114&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BAN-L-PIANOKEYS-0524-1-1.jpg?w=2000&ssl=1 2000w" sizes="(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px" data-recalc-dims="1">A view of the newly painted compass and piano key design, top left, at the Four Corners intersection in Bennington. Photo by Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner
(This story by Ed Damon was first published in the Bennington Banner on May 25, 2017.)
BENNINGTON — You'll never be lost at Four Corners. Those who pass through the prominent downtown intersection are now guided by a North Star compass bordered by piano keys in a design painted onto the pavement. It's a new public art piece that aims to celebrate the town's cultural history and give residents and visitors a unique sight to enjoy, according to Polly van der Linde.
On the side of a quiet road, chef Bun Lai explained that Japanese knotweed, brought to the United States first as an ornamental plant, has spread to become one of the country's more tenacious invasive species. It breaks roads and streets. Its roots extend deep into the soil, and if you leave just a little piece behind, it returns. “It's like a horror movie,” he said.To bring it under control, Lai suggested a formidable adversary: us.
(This story by Matt Hongoltz-Hetling was first published in the Valley News on May 13, 2017.)
HARTLAND — An overhaul of Vermont laws on what, exactly, constitutes inhumane living conditions for dogs and cats living in cages has led to a debate among different stakeholders in the animal welfare community. “Nobody who has a cat or dog as a beloved companion animal would ever confine their animal in the way that this bill allows,” said Sue Skaskiw, director of the Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals Humane Society, during a telephone interview on May 12. But Kathryn Finnie, executive director of the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, said in testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products in February that the bill was an improvement. “These changes will provide humane investigators with a more specific checklist and measurable standards when they review cases of alleged animal cruelty, and we strongly support passage of this bill,” she said. The difference of opinion is over H.218, a bill that has passed both the House and Senate and needs only a signature from Gov. Phil Scott to become law.