Dallas News to Look Out For in 2024

You went by pretty fast, 2023, but that didn’t keep us from getting to know you fairly well. Maybe too well. You were a rather dramatic year, after all. We’re not sure you were any more or less dramatic than previous years, but given the numerous times we found ourselves saying “Well, this is unprecedented,” to ourselves, we’ll humbly suggest you were unique.

There isn’t a regular Legislative session happening in 2024. That, by itself, means the new year will have a different feel to it than last year. One thing we’re certain of, however, is that the events of 2023 will loom large over the newsworthy developments of 2024. We’re not saying this in a “history repeating itself” sort of way, mind you. We’re thinking of it more in a cause and effect way. For those who follow the news in North Texas, you should buckle up. Here’s what to look for in 2024.

How Red Will Johnson Get?

A few months after winning re-election while running unopposed, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson dropped a bombshell by announcing, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed no less, that he had left the Democratic party to join the GOP. The move was notable for many reasons, not the least of which was that very few large American cities have Republican mayors in place. Although Dallas elected positions are technically non-partisan, Johnson not only touted his new affiliation with vigor, he went on to form the Republican Mayors Association, consisting of conservative city heads from around the country.

In some ways, the subject of the announcement wasn’t shocking, given Johnson’s pro-business, law and order views. When Johnson made the announcement, some members of the City Council were more bothered by the post-election timing of it. With the mayor and the council butting heads over the city budget, property taxes and how to spend the 2024 bond money, it will be interesting to see how Johnson’s finally coming out as a Republican will factor into business at city hall.

And by the way, we’re still waiting to hear from Johnson on where he stands on many prime Republican talking points.

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Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and members of the City Council didn’t always see eye-to-eye in 2023.

Nathan Hunsinger

How Will the Republican Civil War Progress?

Speaking of Republicans, 2023 was filled with conservative lawmakers finger-pointing and infighting. Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial, the sparring over a plan to reduce property taxes and Gov. Greg Abbott’s unsuccessful campaign to ram through a school voucher plan gave the GOP officials plenty of chances to yell at one another last year. All this also gave Paxton and Abbott plenty of reason, in their estimations, to go after the Republicans who did not support them when they desperately needed it.

How will the primaries for North Texas reps such as Kronda Thimesch and Jeff Leach go? They are two of the House members who voted to impeach Paxton in May and are two of the AG’s chief targets. Of course, in Republican-dominated Texas, switching out one conservative official for another one likely isn’t going to change much, but seeing how it all goes down will make for great theater.

More Titles?

When the Texas Rangers brought home the team’s first World Series trophy in November, it completed the local pro sports championship grand slam. All four major sports clubs have now achieved their league’s top prize. As 2023 drew to a close, the Dallas Cowboys were steamrolling to the playoffs again on the strength of an MVP-caliber season from Dak Prescott, while the Stars of the NHL and the NBA’s Mavericks were both among the top teams in their respective leagues. In 2011, when the Mavericks won their only NBA title, the Rangers were within a strike of winning that year’s World Series, but that’s the closest we’ve come in North Texas to having multiple pro championships in the same year. With each team kicking things into high gear at the same time, it’s not a stretch to suggest that 2024 is our best chance in a very long time to at least reasonably envision that happening.

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Lisa Sievers has a short-term rental unit that will be affected by the Dallas residential neighborhood ban should it take effect in 2024.

Nathan Hunsinger

Long Term Debate Over Short-Term Rentals

For anyone who felt as though the June 2023 City Council vote to basically ban all short-term rental properties from Dallas residential neighborhoods was the end of the years-long saga, you now know that was a bad take. In early December, a judge issued an injunction to keep the new zoning ordinance that would’ve prevented Airbnb and VRBO properties from operating in single-family areas from beginning on Dec. 13. That ruling has cleared the way for the lawsuit that local STR owners brought against the city to be heard in June 2024.

County Tech Trouble

The year 2023 was a nightmare year for Dallas County IT. Massive problems involving payroll, court and jail management, fraud and ransomware caused much more than headaches, as County officials repeatedly had to try to answer for the embarrassing string of technical ineptitude. Nor was the city of Dallas immune to such drama, thanks to a May ransomware attack that impacted a number of city operations for an extended time. That same month, county employees began missing money on their paychecks, and the summer months revealed that new court software wasn’t working properly, creating difficulties in accessing records and even keeping county jail inmates incarcerated longer than they should have been.

As the year neared its end, a ransomware attack hit the county, allegedly exposing 5 gigs of personal data just before it was reported that the county was defrauded out of $2.4 million through a nefarious online transaction. It’s not likely that the county, or the city for that matter, has seen the last of these malfunctions and attacks. What to watch out for in 2024 is whether the disasters can be limited somehow and just how many people will be negatively affected when the next one occurs.

Abortion in Texas

It was bound to happen after Texas outlawed abortions in 2022, and in Dec. 2023, it did: A Dallas woman sued the state for the right to terminate her pregnancy. At the 20-week mark in her pregnancy, Kate Cox was told by doctors that her fetus had full Trisomy 18 and likely would not survive full-term childbirth. She was also told that carrying the baby full-term and delivering it via Cesarian section surgery would likely hurt her chances of having another child in the future.

A state judge issued a temporary restraining order against the state, clearing the way for Cox to receive an abortion in Texas, but after AG Paxton issued a letter threatening legal action against the doctor and hospital involved, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the law as it is currently written did not allow the procedure under the medical exemption. According to her attorneys, Cox left the state to have the abortion. That was the first case of its kind in Texas, so a good deal of uncertainty remains, but the amount of national attention the case received could mean another similar test in the courts isn’t far behind. 


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