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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Bump & Grind and Those Left Behind LEGISLATORS GONE WILD State Rep. Al Edwards has probably earned more attention recently for his sexually suggestive cheerleader bill than for his last 15 years’ worth of bills combined. Edwards’ staff said the Houston Democrat has given more than 60 interviews in the past few weeks about his House Bill 1476 \(what fellow Houston Rep. Garnet Coleman has taken to callany routines by high school cheerleaders that are “sexually explicit.” Edwards has appeared on CNN, been profiled in the Dallas Morning News, and is scheduled to appear on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” If there’s anyone who finds the subject more titillating than the media, however, it’s Edwards’ colleagues. The March 29 hearing of the House Public Education Committee at which Edwards laid out his bill was as much a spectacle as any gyrating cheerleader. Edwards explained that he filed HB 1476 after attending high school events in his district where he witnessed cheerleaders “bumping and grinding.” “Al, when you’ve witnessed this sort of activity are you sure you [were] at the right place?” asked Rep. Bill Keffer Edwards then reached for the heavy rhetorical ammoJanet Jackson. “America went crazy when part of her privacy was exposed,” Edwards said. “The word came back all across our TV sets that we’re watching this with our families and children and it should not be allowed. We may not be able to stop it on the TV stations, but I think this [bill] would be the beginning of sending a great message. It should not be on our television and Internet where our children can watch all of that porno stuff on there.” Since presumably the cheerleaders in Edwards’ district don’t expose themselves during routines, it remained unclear what any of this had to do with the bill. What exactly constitutes “sexually suggestive?” wondered Brownsville Democrat Rene Oliveira, noting that the bill fails to define which performance moves exactly would be prohibited. How does one define what’s sexually arousing? “I can’t define yours for you or you define mine for me,” Edwards responded. “I don’t have a word-for-word description of it, but any adult who is involved with sex at all in their life, they know it when they see it. I can’t give you a demonstration this evening.” “I’m not sure we’d want one,” chimed Pam Uhr, a mother of three boys in the Westlake high school area in Austin and member of the ACLU, was one of three women who spoke against the bill. \(One man was overheard in the hearing room saying he wouldn’t dare testify against the bill, presumably for fear Uhr said the bill is too vague and leaves open the possibility of it being used to restrict freedom of artistic expression. When Uhr mentioned that she is a single mother, Rep. Scott Hochberg \(Dly sexual to me.” He then joked about hooking up Uhr with his bachelor colleague Oliveira. Uhr said later that she wasn’t offended by the exchange. “In my job, I’m in a man’s world,” she said. Tracey Hayes, another representative from the ACLU who spoke against the bill, said the humor at the hearing was used for stress relief. But she added, “I was surprised, however, with all of the adult sexual humor in a room full of people legislating that children shouldn’t behave sexually.” CLOSED OUT OF COLLEGE Latinos and blacks will soon be a majority in Texas. Ominously, too few minority high school students are attending college, as recent testimony before a Senate committee made clear. And the situation could get much worse if the Legislature abolishes or caps the admissions program that has modestly boosted minority enrollment at state universities. On March 30, the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education heard five hours of testimony on the future of the top 10 percent admissions rule, which allows for automatic admission to state universities for Texas high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. The program was implemented in 1997 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hopwood ruling prohibited using race as a factor in admissions. It has slowly increased minority enrollment at state universities, although the numbers are just now reaching pre-Hopwood levels. \(In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Senate committee, however, is weighing three bills to revise the rule. One of the bills would cap the number of students a Texas public college could admit under the top 10 percent rule. The most controversial bill, authored by Sen. Jeff Wentworth \(R-San Antoly. Wentworth argues that the top 10 percent rule unfairly penalizes students at competitive high schools. Raymund Paredes, a commissioner on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, told the committee that even capping the top 10 percent rule would cause a sudden drop in minority admissions for at least two to five years. This is not good news for Texas’ flagship universities, which are already suffering from low numbers of African American and Latino students. The problem is especially apparent at Texas A&M. Texas A&M President and former CIA Director Robert Gates has touted a significant increase in minority enrollment 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 15, 2005