Alarm Bells • Somehow, the temporary loss of an iconic ice cream brand caused more panic in Texas this year than the plummeting price of oil. After a Listeria bacteria contamination killed three people and sickened dozens more, Blue Bell recalled all of its products. The company’s future looked to be in jeopardy, and it laid off hundreds of employees. But Blue Bell weathered the storm, and its ice cream returned to San Antonio shelves on December 14.
Accused Politicians • At what point will felony indictments become compulsory for statewide officials in Texas? In 2015, the courtroom saga continued for former Gov. Rick Perry. A state court threw out the charge of coercion of a public official, but he still faces an abuse of power charge. In August, a grand jury indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton on three felony counts of securities fraud, in a case that promises to drag into 2016 and beyond.
Grab Your Guns! • Firearm fanatics won two major victories in the state Legislature this year: open carry and campus carry. The first measure allows a licensed handgun owner to carry their weapon on their hip or in a shoulder holster. The second will allow licensed gun owners who are 21 and older to carry guns on college campuses.
The Federal Invasion • Oh, boy, this was a doozy. So, if you’re reading this, the federal government has not taken over Texas to usher in Martial law and suppress everyone’s rights, from the Second to the First Amendments.
However, earlier this year, seemingly thousands of Texans were sure that the routine military exercise called Jade Helm was really just a ploy by President Barack “Not My President” Obama to take over the Lone Star State. During the two-month exercise that spanned seven states, the military practiced against hypothetical hostile forces.
People really believed Texas was being invaded. Naturally, once again, the Lone Star State was the laughing stock of the nation.
Jailed Families • Rep. Joaquin Castro, along with 134 other Democrats, asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in May to end the use of family detention facilities — to no avail.
The federal government continues its policy of jailing undocumented women and children, many of whom have fled from gang violence in Central America, even after a California judge ruled the administration violated rules about detaining immigrant children.