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Texas State Capitol

Texas Lawmakers Present Permit-Free Gun Carrying Law To Governor 

Texas legislators approved the final version of a bill that will allow residents to openly carry a handgun without a permit. Now, the bill is making its way to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for his review and signature. 

House Bill 1927 would allow any individual who is legally allowed to possess a firearm in the state to carry a handgun in public spaces without a permit. Texas isn’t the first conservative state to pass measures such as this this year either. Meanwhile President Joe Biden has been taking action to strengthen gun restrictions in wake of the multiple mass shootings that have occurred this year. 

Once signed, the bill will go into effect in September, making Texas the largest state to allow its gun owners to carry weapons in public without a license. Abbott already claimed that he would be signing the bill once it made it through the legislature. 

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“I’ll be signing it. I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas.”

The bill itself passed through Texas legislative chambers earlier this month but was later sent to a separate conference committee to negotiate changes from both parties. The committee reached a final agreement on the bill this past Friday, and the Texas Senate approved the bill on Monday after the Texas House passed it on Sunday. 

Texas already allows citizens to carry rifles openly without a license, but the current law states that residents must have a license in order to carry an open or concealed handgun. Part of the licensing process includes residents submitting a fingerprint, undergoing a background check, participating in a training course, and passing a shooting proficiency test. 

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The Texas Department of Public Safety will now be required to also post a free online course on firearm safety and handling on its website as a part of the new bill. 

Many republican supporters of the bill refer to it as a “constitutional carry,” and have always argued that the licensing requirement to carry a gun should be removed as it represents an “artificial barrier” to residents’ second amendment right to bear arms. 

Democrats and law enforcement officials, however, have been adamant about the fact that the bill also eliminates mandatory firearms training that works to help protect the public. Additionally, law enforcement are worried about how much more difficult it’s going to be to determine who’s unlawfully carrying a weapon. 

Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming have all passed legislation this year that allows residents to carry without a permit. Nineteen states currently allow permitless carry as well.

Matthew McConaughey Is Apparently ‘Making Calls’ About Running For Texas Governor

According to reports, Matthew McConaughey is seriously considering a run for Texas Governor after sources claimed that the “‘Dallas Buyers Club’ star has been quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles as he mulls a run for governor.”

McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas, and currently lives in the state capitol of Austin with his wife and children. Last year he hinted at a run for governor after an appearance on a podcast following the release of his autobiography where he claimed running for governor was something he was “truly considering.” 

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“I’m looking into it now again, what is my leadership role? Because I do think I have some things to teach and share, and what is my role? What’s my category in my next chapter of life that I’m going into?”

Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based Republican strategist, told Politico  he was “a little more surprised that people aren’t taking him more seriously, honestly. Celebrity in this country counts for a lot … it’s not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal.”

This isn’t the first time the entertainment industry has collided with American politics; we all remember who our president was the past four years, additionally Ronald Reagan was an actor before his time in politics, as well as famous bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger who became the governor of California. 

Besides McConaughey, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is also considering running for governor in her state of California. This is a part of a major effort from California Republicans who want to recall Gavin Newsom. 

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Current Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is seeking a third term next year, and is already polling rather successfully despite his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive winter storm that cripples the state’s power grid and left 125 dead. 

Karl Rove, a senior adviser to George W Bush, the last governor of Texas who went on to become President, claims that he’s not surprised by McConaughey’s decision to run, and he’s curious to see how he’s going to align himself politically.

“McConaughey running for governor was seen as improbable but never out of the question. So now the real question is will he run as a Republican? Democrat? Independent? Where exactly does he fall on the political scale? He says he has a funny phrase about being a hardcore centrist, but what party would he run under?”

Proggressive and democrat citizens in Texas are hoping McConaughey doesn’t run as independent and instead runs as a Democrat so that the vote would be more evenly split between him and Abbott.

Justice

Gov. Cuomo Proposes Anti-Discrimination Regulations

In the wake of an explosive report from Newsday detailing an extensive practice of discrimination against homebuyers of color on Long Island, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed new regulations meant to address this problem. Yesterday, the governor announced rules that would require real estate agents to give a disclosure about fair housing and the New York State Human Rights Law to prospective clients and display this information at offices and open houses. Additionally, the proposed rules would require organizations that offer fair housing education classes to record instructional settings and keep the video for a year in response to allegations that these classes are not taken seriously in the industry.

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While imposing regulations on private industries is always a controversial decision, many people who work in the real estate industry welcome the rule change. For instance, Jay Christiana, president of the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, said, “Anything that is going to be fair in housing, I certainly don’t have an issue with.” However, as demonstrated by the lengthy Newsday exposé, many New York real estate agents are fairly entrenched in their practices when dealing with clients, and as such may take issue with the addition of new rules.

Newsday’s story sent shockwaves throughout the entire local real estate industry, as the discriminatory practices recorded by the newspaper’s staff shocked the island. Some in the industry suggested the story made the problem seem worse than it is; though Christiana supports the proposed anti-discrimination regulations, he said “Most people are highly ethical in our business — it’s always for the few that we’re enacting these new laws.” It should be noted that the subjects in the Newsday investigation likely violated New York law by steering clients towards communities of similar racial makeup, and Cuomo’s proposed regulations would just make it easier for the government to enforce housing laws that are already on the books.

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The new rules are set to go into effect after a public comment period lasting 60 days. Assuming the rules are not revised in response to the public comments, the regulations would take effect in a little more than two months. In a prepared statement, Cuomo said, “Housing discrimination is completely unacceptable and it’s also against the law. New York State is taking immediate action to help ensure renters and homeowners are protected from any and all discriminatory actions when it comes to safe, accessible housing.”

California Law

New California Law Would Allow N.C.A.A. Athletes to Make Money

As a general rule, college athletes are not paid more than the cost of their tuition, regardless of how much money they may make for their university. Many have decried this longstanding national policy as unfair, and recently California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that would allow college players to hire agents and strike endorsement deals, upending a policy considered standard in every other state. The law was passed despite the extensive lobbying of universities and powerful organizations who opposed the measure. Though the law is not set to go into effect until 2023, it is already causing confusion and pushback among college sports teams and leagues.

According to Newsom, while the law only applies to California, it represents “a big move to expose the farce and to challenge a system that is outsized in its capacity to push back.” Newsom considers it fundamentally unfair that the only students who are not able to monetize their image, likeness, and skills are athletes, even though these students generate perhaps the most revenue of any student group. It has long been the philosophy that student athletes attend university to earn a degree, not to make money, but as the industry of college sports has exploded this view is starting to change, much to the chagrin of colleges and student-athlete organizations. The N.C.A.A. has called the measure “unconstitutional” and is developing a legal defense against the law.

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When the law goes into effect in a few years, it will directly contradict current N.C.A.A. guidelines, which govern the participation of student-athletes in sports. Currently, the guidelines strictly prevent student-athletes from making money in a variety of ways, ranging not only from banning sponsorships but to preventing athletes from selling autographs and monetizing social media accounts. This means that after the law goes into effect, student-athletes who hire agents and win endorsements will violate N.C.A.A. guidelines despite being legally allowed to do so, potentially incurring fines from the N.C.A.A. It’s not currently clear whether the N.C.A.A. could legally enforce such fines.

As California is among the most populated states in the country, it would be difficult for the N.C.A.A. to afford to penalize the state’s universities and athletes, who make up a significant portion of the American college sports industry. And although the law only applies to California, it is sure to have reverberations throughout college sports in general, as leaders will be forced to decide whether to change their rules barring athletes from making money in order to accommodate Californian student-athletes, or simply ban these athletes from competitions.

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As the 2023 deadline approaches, other states are looking into the possibility of ensuring that student-athletes can receive compensation as well. Because California is such a large and influential state, they are likely to lead the way on this and similar legislation, and there’s a good chance other states follow suit. The enacting of similar legislation, or the lack thereof, is likely to be a determining factor in the question of how the N.C.A.A. changes its rules.

With this law, California is intending to force the N.C.A.A.’s hand, as Newsom claimed they were “not going to do the right thing on their own.” Both Republicans and Democrats were in favor of the bill, but as 2023 is still four years away, there is time for the law to be modified depending on how developments in the industry proceed. The law had the support of LeBron James, who hosted a television show on which Newsom signed the bill. Because only a small percentage of college athletes become professional athletes, the law is thought to give more students an opportunity to make money off of their athletic abilities which they hone during the course of their education.