Skip to main content

The Brief: Oct. 1, 2015

The nonpartisan Texas Lyceum found close to a majority of Texas adults support same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana in its latest poll.

Lead image for this article

The Big Conversation

A new survey of Texans by the nonpartisan Texas Lyceum might cause some to reassess Texas as the home of hardline stances on marijuana and same-sex marriage.

As the San Antonio Express-News' Peggy Fikac writes, 49 percent of Texans support the right of same-sex couples to marry while 46 percent support legalizing marijuana use. Remarkable is how quickly support for both positions has grown. In 2009, support for same-sex marriage was at 25 percent and support for legalizing marijuana use has grown by 13 percent in four years.

Look beyond the results for the overall population of Texas adults, though, and it still seems that the issue of same-sex marriage is polarizing politically. Fikac notes that same-sex marriage has the support of 69 percent of Democrats but just 31 percent of Republicans. Also, this survey dropped an option for civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage.

Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz told Fikac that the electoral success of Republican leaders like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick better reflect where Texans stand on these social issues. "So those polls, I think, are more accurate than any polls that are taken over the phone,” he said.

The survey of 1,000 adult Texans was taken between Sept. 8 and 21 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. For a look at an executive summary of the hot issues poll, click here.

Disclosure: Texas Lyceum is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

New Era for Health Records Drives Demand for Medical Scribes, by Edgar Walters – Starting Thursday, most U.S. health care providers must switch to a new system of computer codes for recording patient ailments. Opinions are mixed about the changes, but they are clearly fueling a greater demand for medical scribes, who focus on entering patient data.

DuPont Slammed in Report on Fatal Plant Leak, by Neena Satija – Ten months after four DuPont workers died from a toxic gas release at the company's La Porte plant, federal investigators presented a scathing assessment of the company's performance, and said if the unit where the accident occurred were it to reopen today it would continue to present dangers. 

Wendy Davis Endorses Clinton for President, by Patrick Svitek – Former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis on Wednesday endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying Clinton's deep history with Texas politics will pay off come Election Day.

Amid Lawsuit, Patrick Defends Medicaid Cuts to Therapy, by Edgar Walters – Amid an ongoing lawsuit over deep cuts made by lawmakers this year to a therapy program for children with disabilities, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday offered a sternly worded defense of the Legislature’s move. 

Travis County Prosecutor-For-Hire Deal Postponed, by Tony Plohetski and Jay Root – A controversial agreement between the Travis County District Attorney's Office and Texas Mutual Insurance in which the company pays prosecutors to pursue its fraud cases will be suspended — at least for now, officials said Wednesday.  

Google Takes Slow Ride to Testing Self-Driving Cars, by Aman Batheja – A reporter's brief trip in the backseat of a Google self-driving car shows how developers are taking advantage of Austin's traffic patterns to teach its software how to handle the mundane and the unpredictable.

Abbott Again Presses Federal Government on Border Security, by Patrick Svitek – Amid reports of a spike in illegal border crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott is again pushing the federal government to fortify the Texas-Mexico border, demanding "immediate and bold action" from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Elsewhere

Cruz, outsider in the Senate, has inside track with Texas legislators, Austin American-Statesman

No shutdown: Congress approves bill to keep government open, The Associated Press

At White House, El Paso lawmaker gets encouragement for domestic agenda, The Dallas Morning-News

See the FBI's newest data on violent crime in Texas metro areas, Houston Chronicle 

In rare move, Bergdahl lawyer releases hearing transcript, San Antonio Express-News

Travis County DA’s office suspends agreement with Texas Mutual, Austin American-Statesman

Audit: Riverside misused half of $32 million Ike recovery grant, Houston Chronicle

DuPont knew La Porte plant threatened community, workers alike, Houston Chronicle

Updated: Campus carry debate shifts to next phase at UT-Austin forum, The Dallas Morning-News

Full state funding for seat belts on school buses diverted, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“To me, the best analogy is if everybody on a football team wants to call their own plays, and when they don’t like the play the quarterback calls, they decide to sack their [own] quarterback. That’s not a way to win."

— U.S. Sen. John Cornyn discussing his colleague Ted Cruz's approach to defunding Planned Parenthood.

Today in TribTalk

Improving infrastructure is crucial to Texas' growth, by M. Katherine Banks – Texas' infrastructure is deteriorating at an alarming rate. Traffic jams, water main breaks and power failures have become more than just daily inconveniences, and our economic wellbeing and safety are at risk.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on Criminal Justice: The Next Five Years on Oct. 6 in Huntsville

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   The Texas Tribune Trivia Night  on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. in Austin

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today