5 things to know: Thursday

5 things to know: Thursday

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TTU President Schovanec on "Alert" Act regarding Title IX

Texas Senator John Cornyn proposed the Alert Act or Accountability of Leaders in Education to report Title IX investigations. It would require administrators to certify they have reviewed any reports of sexual abuse involving university employees. 

Schovanec said he does not oppose this bill. He said Title IX officers already inform him of reports involving students and faculty on a yearly basis.

"It might formalize some of the reporting processes that we have," Schovanec said. "If you look at the greater attention reporting that this act would provide I don't see a substantial difference in the way we would respond with what we are dealing with."

The bill also requires confirmation there was no interference or influence in on-going investigations.

Tech law professor Kyle Velte said this bill provides opportunities for victims to take legal action against the school. 

"That's the key to this, awareness but not interference, because we want the investigators to be neutral and objective when they are doing the investigation," Velte said. "We want the students voices to be heard and due process to take it's course."

Velte said something is missing. The bill only requires the reporting of incidents involving interaction between employees and students, not those solely involving students. 

Whether this bill passes, she said she believes it is a step in the right direction. 

The Alert Act has bipartisan support in the Senate. It's coauthored by democratic Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.  


State lawmakers urged to expand religious freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's to protect ministers and county clerks who object to gay marriage.

The main focus of the hearing before members of the Senate State Affairs Committee was two laws: SB 24 - the Sermon Safeguard Bill and HB 555- the Religious Liberty of County Clerks Bill.

Teresa Kiel - with the County & District Clerks Association of Texas, testified about a recent survey they sent to members about issuing marriage licensees for same sex couples.

"Of the 254 I received 49 responses, kind of like our voter turn out, which is sad," Kiel said.

It was suggested, the low response was due to a fear of speaking out against gay marriage.

Edie Delorme testified about that and how she and her husband were attacked for taking a religious stand, and urged lawmakers to give business owners as well as medical professionals the same protection given to county clerks and preachers.

"We had threats against our lives, theats to burn our business and home to the ground with us in it," Delorme said. "Small business owners have a right to make a decision on what they do or do not do according to their religious beliefs, that people have their religious freedom to say no."

The legislation protecting preachers stems from a Gay Rights Ordinance in Houston four years ago. SB 24 was passed after the city demanded church leaders, who objected to the ordinance, to surrender copies of their sermons.

Committee Chair Joan Huffman expects legislation will be introduced during the next session to expand the state religious freedom laws.

"And the way it would be done, I don't see some broad Bill that has some sweeping reform," Huffman said, "because I think we have found that constitutionally can bring some big problems."


Angry students, parents confront Sen. Rubio

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is being challenged by angry students, teachers and parents who are demanding stronger gun-control measures after a shooting rampage claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school.

One of those confronting Rubio at a CNN's "Stand Up" town hall Wednesday night was Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed on Feb. 14 with 16 others.

Guttenberg told Rubio that his comments about the shooting "and those of your president this week have been pathetically weak."

People stood up and cheered Guttenberg as he challenged Rubio to tell him the truth, to acknowledge that "guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids."

Rubio responded that the problems laid bare by the shooting rampage "cannot be solved by gun laws alone," drawing jeering whistles from the crowd. Rubio responded that he would support laws barring those 18 and under from buying such weapons, support changing the background checks system and getting rid of bump stocks.

He said that if he believed an assault weapons ban "would have prevented this from happening, I would have supported it." That drew jeers. Visibly angry, Guttenberg responded: "That is a weapon of war."


Gun control debate rages, President Trump proposes arming teachers

WASHINGTON (AP) - In the aftermath of the latest mass school shooting, President Donald Trump has raised the idea of arming teachers.
  
Trump says that had one of the victims, an assistant football coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, been armed, "he would have shot and that would have been the end of it."
  
The comments come as lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the idea of letting teachers carry guns, including in Florida, where 17 victims are being mourned.
  
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called arming teachers an option for states. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten calls it a horrible idea.
  
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence says at least eight states allow, or don't specifically prohibit, concealed weapons in K-12 schools.


Interest groups press case at President Trump properties
  
WASHINGTON (AP) - Special interests are holding meetings at properties owned by President Donald Trump, putting money in his pockets as they seek to influence his administration.
  
An Associated Press analysis of the interest groups that visited Trump properties in the first year of his presidency finds several instances that at least create the appearance of "pay for play." And lobbying experts say as long as the president fails to divest from his businesses, special interests will take full advantage.
  
It's impossible to draw a direct link between where groups seeking to influence the Trump administration hold their events and what they received. Yet never before in American history have such groups had the opportunity to hold an event at a property owned by the president.
 

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