The Big Conversation
Sixteen people died in a hot air balloon crash outside Lockhart on Saturday that left no survivors, raising questions about the safety of hot air balloons and how they are regulated.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the balloon “had been gliding along a portion of Caldwell County near Jolly Road, about two miles west of Lockhart, when witnesses said it appeared to strike high-voltage power lines and catch fire.” The Statesman called the crash “one of the most deadly single incidents to hit the Austin area” and “the worst such accident since a 2013 balloon crash in Egypt killed 19.”
The tragedy drew a reaction from Gov. Greg Abbott, who said in a statement that “the investigation into the cause of this tragic accident will continue, and I ask all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost,” as well as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other Texas officials. Pope Francis also offered his condolences.
As the Statesman reports, the National Transportation Safety Board called for federal officials to more strictly regulate hot air balloons more than two years ago, given what it described as the potential for a “high number of fatalities in a single air tour balloon accident.” Just months ago, the Federal Aviation Administration rejected those recommendations.
“It’s unclear whether the safety recommendations could have prevented Saturday’s catastrophic balloon crash near Lockhart,” the Statesman writes. “But it seems likely that the foretold crash will renew calls for enhanced safety regulation of an industry that has experienced a number of deadly accidents in recent years.”
Trib Must Reads
With Texas Now a Campus Carry State, Here’s What You Need to Know, by Matthew Watkins — The new state law allowing guns inside college buildings went into effect Monday. Here’s a rundown of what that means for people on campus.
Only One Private Texas University Adopting Campus Carry, by Matthew Watkins and Madeline Conway — Starting Monday, licensed college students, faculty and visitors across Texas will be allowed to carry their concealed guns into campus buildings thanks to a new state law. But that right will be mostly limited to public schools.
Wendy Davis Draws Starstruck Fans at Democratic National Convention, by Abby Livingston — Judging by the throngs of adoring fans at the Democratic National Convention, you'd never guess former state Sen. Wendy Davis lost her bid for Texas governor by 20 points.
Texas Democrats Leave Philly With Few Prospects, by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston — After years of being soundly thrashed by Republicans in Texas statewide races, the Texas Democratic Party leaves its national gathering still looking for a path out of political exile.
Texas Challenges EPA's Crackdown on Oilfield Methane, by Jim Malewitz — Texas is again taking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to court, this time challenging new rules aimed at slashing methane emissions in the oil patch.
Florida Cases Won't Change Texas Zika Prevention Strategy, by Madeline Conway and Edgar Walters — News that four people in South Florida likely caught the Zika virus from mosquito bites presented a new milestone for the disease in the continental United States. But in Texas, health officials aren't sounding new alarms.
Analysis: The Texas Election Records, by Ross Ramsey — As we start this 99-day sprint to Election Day (and somewhat in the spirit of the summer Olympics), it seems like a good time to open the records and see what Texas voters have done in past presidential election years.
Cornyn Rebukes Cruz for Snubbing Trump at Republican Convention, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Friday said it was "a mistake" for Ted Cruz to show up at the Republican National Convention with no intention of endorsing presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Donald Trump Coming to Austin for Fundraiser, by Patrick Svitek — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is returning to Texas next month to raise money for his campaign.
Mark Cuban Endorses Hillary Clinton Over "Jagoff" Donald Trump, by Patrick Svitek — Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban returned to his birthplace of Pittsburgh on Saturday to endorse Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, borrowing a local term to assail her bombastic Republican rival.
Austin Scrambles with Fallout of Closed DNA Lab, by Khorri Atkinson — More than a month after the Austin Police Department was forced to abruptly shut down its DNA testing lab, it remains unclear whether any criminal convictions will be thrown out because of improper testing.
NextEra Would Own Oncor in $18.4 Billion Deal, by Jim Malewitz — Florida-based NextEra Energy has unveiled an $18.4 billion deal to buy Oncor, Texas' largest electric transmission company.
News From Home
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(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
Millions of dollars raked in for some Texas legislative races, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Where voter ID rules mean win or lose for former Representative Pete Gallego and Will Hurd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting (Audio), Texas Standard
A sniper's haunting legacy, Houston Chronicle
The loaded legacy of the UT Tower shooting, The Washington Post
After non-endorsement, will Texans stand by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
'Our worst nightmare': Heroism, devastation and the story of how 1 man killed 5 Dallas cops, The Dallas Morning News
Quote to Note
“You don’t come to the convention after you have lost the nomination and not support the nominee. I think the right thing to do would be to stay home. I think it was a mistake and I don’t know what it means in terms of his future, but I think he miscalculated.”
— U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, commenting on Ted Cruz’s snub of Donald Trump in an interview on Fox News Radio
Today in TribTalk
With experimental drugs, "right to try" can go wrong, by Michelle Rubin and Kirstin R.W. Matthews — "Right to try" laws theoretically increase the pool of experimental drugs available to patients, but they do very little to actually increase access and improve care.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• Life on the Border: Rhetoric or Reality? on Aug. 4 at The Centennial Club in McAllen
• A Conversation with state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and state Reps. Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra on Aug. 26 at UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin
• TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center
• A Conversation with state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee on Oct. 4 at Amarillo College in Amarillo