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Court Blocks Farmers Branch Immigrant Renter Law


Five stories that have North Texas talking: a federal court rules Farmers Branch's immigrant renter law unconstitutional, a U.S. senator calls for stricter regulations for rollercoasters, and a Texas musician revives a nearly-extinct genre of fiddling.

A federal court has ruled that multiple parts of a controversial Farmers Branch ordinance are unconstitutional and infringe on federal authority. The suburb will not be allowed to enforce the ordinance. Bickel & Brewer Storefront, the firm representing the plaintiffs in the case, released this statement.

The ordinance would have required all renters to obtain licenses before renting. City inspectors would’ve been able to check an immigrant’s status and deny licenses to any undocumented workers. Landlords who rented to immigrants without permits would have faced fines or removal of their renters’ licenses.  

Other towns have fought to put in place similar laws with mixed success. A federal appeals court ruled against a renter's ordinance in Hazleton, Pa., but a different court ruled in favor of another ordinance in Fremont, Neb. [AP Via ABC]

  • Senator Calls For Safety Standards For Rollercoasters: Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., is calling for federal safety standards after an Arlington woman died in a fall from the Texas Giant rollercoaster. Markey says enough theme-park accidents have occurred to warrant government intervention, although the amusement-park industry argues that accidents, especially fatal ones, are rare. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

  • JFK’s Limo Became A Presidential Hand-Me-Down: After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, little attention was given to the blue 1961 Lincoln Continental that carried him. Surprisingly, it wasn’t retired immediately; after a thorough cleaning, a paint job and some safety modifications, the presidential limo was still used until 1977, serving presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. Reportedly, President Johnson was a little freaked out using the limo, so he personally requested the black paint job. These days, the car is permanently parked at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. [WFAA]

  • Bringing Back Old-School Texas Fiddling: An Austin musician is working to preserve an old style of fiddle music that nearly disappeared after the Great Depression. Howard Rains, 43, is one of the few people in the state who performs this particular genre of fiddling, Texas Monthly reports. It was often accompanied by banjos or guitars and was usually performed on front porches. Rains recently released The Old Texas Fiddle, an album dedicated to Texas fiddle music.

Credit Wade Goodwyn / NPR
The Pecan Lodge's combination plate.

  • The Pecan Lodge Basks In Barbecue Glory: The arrival of “Big Rick” isn’t the only exciting thing happening at the Pecan Lodge. The Dallas barbecue joint is receiving a lot of attention since Texas Monthly named it as the fourth-best barbecue joint in Texas. NPR’s Wade Goodwyn visited the lodge recently in this report for Morning Edition. The pictures alone are making us drool.
Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.