Plus: The city of Houston wants to take a same-sex marriage benefits question to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harvey continues to hurt inland oil refineries, and Governor Abbott shakes up his staff.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It is sugar-free Double Bubble. It is the individually packaged ones. I put seven in my pocket, at the start of each half I make sure there’s seven in my pocket. I think it’s just kind of—I don’t want to say a nervous habit—but obviously there’s something to that. The intensity level during a game is pretty high, and that’s something that at least I can kinda unwind a little bit by chewing some gum.”
—Texas Longhorns football coach Tom Herman at a press conference on Monday, according to the Dallas Morning News. He was asked about his chewing gum habits after being frequently spotted on the sidelines during Saturday’s loss to USC with a wad of gum in his mouth, even blowing the occasional bubble.
Despite a case now winding its way through the court, Ezekiel Elliott will still be able to suit up for the Cowboys. On Monday, the NFL was denied its request for a stay in the injunction that is allowing Dallas Cowboys running back to play while the legal system figures out the fate of his six-game suspension, according to ESPN. Elliott was suspended in August after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his ex-girlfriend in Ohio. Elliott and the NFL Players’ Association challenged the suspension, and it made its way to federal court, where a judge issued a temporary injunction allowing the running back to take the field as the court decides whether to uphold his suspension or not. The NFL filed an emergency motion with the Fifth Circuit requesting a stay of the injunction, arguing that Elliott’s attorneys sued prematurely because an arbiter had yet to rule on the running back’s appeal of the suspension outside of the court room. But U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant denied the motion. The NFL has also asked the court for an expedited decision. “In its Emergency Motion in front of the Court, the NFL is complaining that the Court essentially issued a premature order by failing to wait for the arbitrator to issue his ruling and therefore, lacked subject matter jurisdiction,” Mazzant wrote in his ruling, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Oddly, the NFL is now seeking expedited relief from the Fifth Circuit without first waiting for the Court to rule on the identical issue. The irony is not lost on the Court.” The case now heads to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where the NFL has filed an appeal. But for now, Elliott can still take the field.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
The city of Houston is trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a same-sex marriage benefits fight, according to the Texas Tribune. Houston filed a petition on Friday requesting SCOTUS look at a decision by the Texas Supreme Court, made in June, that tossed a lower court’s ruling that said the same-sex spouses of public employees are entitled to government marriage benefits. The state Supreme Court ordered a trial court to reconsider the case, but Houston is trying to kick it to SCOTUS instead. According to the Tribune, the issue stems from a lawsuit by two taxpaying citizens represented by conservative gay marriage opponents, challenging Houston’s policy of granting marriage benefits to same-sex spouses, which was implemented after SCOTUS legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. Lawyers for the taxpayers in the lawsuit against Houston argued that the interpretation of the Obergefell decision was too broad, and that granting same-sex couples the right to marry does not make them eligible for taxpayer-funded benefits. It’s unclear if SCOTUS will decide whether to take the case.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast almost four weeks ago, but refineries as far inland as Montana are still feeling the aftereffects of the storm. According to Bloomberg, at least thirteen refineries with a combined 3.27 million barrels a day have had to delay maintenance for weeks or months. Many are experiencing personnel shortages, because workers were dispatched to help fix and restart facilities along the Gulf of Mexico that were damaged by the storm. And there’s still plenty of work to do. According to Bloomberg, Valero, Citgo, and Flint Hills Resources were able to quickly restart their plants in the Corpus Christi area shortly after Harvey hit, but refineries owned by Motiva and Total SA in Port Arthur and Exxon in Beaumont are some of the refineries still trying to get back to normal operations. Exxon said it’s delaying turnarounds at facilities from Louisiana to Montana, as HollyFrontier Corp. moved a turnaround at a plant in Oklahoma planned for September to the first quarter of next year, and delayed work planned for October at its site in Salt Lake City. Citgo also pushed back maintenance scheduled for September at its plant near Chicago.
Greg Abbott’s office will look a little different after the governor announced big staffing changes on Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. Daniel Hodge, Abbott’s chief of staff, is out after assuming the role when Abbott was elected in 2015. Hodge has worked for Abbott since his 2002 campaign for attorney general. Luis Saenz, Abbott’s former appointments director in the governor’s office, is now in as chief of staff. Other new faces include Tommy Williams, a former Republican state senator from The Woodlands, who is joining Abbott’s team as a senior adviser for fiscal affairs; Sarah Hicks, assistant vice chancellor for government relations at the Texas A&M System, who is now Abbott’s budget director; John Colyandro, who was convicted in 2012 of accepting illegal political contributions as executive director of a PAC during the 2002 state legislative elections, now returns to Abbott’s side as a senior adviser and policy director after serving as his adviser once before; ex-Senate Parliamentarian Walter Fisher, who will serve as Abbott’s legislative director; and Peggy Venable, a senior visiting fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who will be Abbott’s appointments director.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
A new study shows the mental health situation in East Texas is not good Longview News-Journal
Did Harvey cause some women to give birth a little earlier than scheduled? Galveston Daily News
After racist Facebook posts, a Bellmead City Councilman said he was “hacked” Waco Herald-Tribune
Here’s how Fort Worth fixed its stray dog problem Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A suspected robber in Lubbock held up a McDonald’s, then waited for his food order before leaving Lubbock Avalanche-Journal