2015 Legislature
7:47 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Texas House Gives Preliminary Approval to Budget Bill After Hours of Debate

Lawmakers debated the House budget bill, HB1, all day and night of March 31, 2015.
KUT News

At 5:39 a.m. Wednesday, the Texas House gave preliminary approval of its state budget bill for 2016-2017.

House lawmakers spent nearly 18 hours going through amendments that would add or take away spending, hot button issues included, and passed the budget on a vote of 141-5.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. John Otto, explained at the beginning of the debate that the roughly $210 billion budget is $2 billion dollars under the state’s constitutional spending limit, which allows for tax cuts that will get approved this session, he said.

Read more
Poetry Month
7:39 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Words on a Page

Read by Ebony Stewart

 

Words on a page

give a voice to people who don’t have one.

Spoken words are temporary and fleeting, but

writing

         freezes

                       time.

No one is really dead if their soul is on a page.

No one is gone if they’ve left their heart in writing.

No one is forgotten if their memories are still here, their

hearts

           beat

                         on.

Writing is forgiving.

It holds no grudge against confessors who have lost their way.

Read more
Texas
12:51 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Grand Jury Recommends UT Regent's Removal

UT Regent Wallace Hall on April 28, 2014. Lawmakers admonished and censured Hall, who was waging a personal investigation into lawmaker influence in the UT-Austin admissions process.
Charlie Pearce/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In an unusual, strongly worded report, a Travis County grand jury recommended this week that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall be removed from office.

It didn’t, however, indict him or accuse him of any criminal wrongdoing. Instead, it called Hall’s behavior “unaccountable and abusive.”

"Transparency and accountability are key elements in maintaining citizens' trust in their government," the report said. "Regent Hall demonstrated neither accountability nor transparency in his actions."

Read more
Austin
9:19 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Council Member Renteria Making Changes to Barbecue Proposal

Brisket at Franklin's. Owner Aaron Franklin visited city council Monday to explain the potential effects of proposed regulations on his, and others', barbecue businesses.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: In response to owners of barbecue restaurants worried about their future in Austin, City Council Member Pio Renteria is making some changes to his resolution directing city staff to create rules to regulate smoke from commercial barbecue smokestacks.

Originally, the resolution was written to require restaurants and mobile food vendors who use a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill within 150 feet of properties zoned residential to install exhaust systems called smoke scrubbers or similar devices.

Read more
Health
8:30 am
Tue March 31, 2015

How an Austin Company's Using 3D Printing to Shape the Future of Breast Reconstruction

The lab at TeVido, a company in Austin that's working on producing nipples and breasts for reconstructions.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

In 1998, the federal government mandated that breast reconstructions after a mastectomy be covered by health insurance. That was the last time anything really big happened in the field of breast reconstruction, and while it was a huge development, it wasn't an improvement to the procedure itself.

But an Austin company is aiming to transform outcomes for breast reconstruction patients through the use of 3D printing technology.

Warning: This story contains some frank discussions and revealing images of human anatomy.

Read more
2015 Legislature
7:39 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Texas Senate Gives First OK to Grading Schools A Through F

Texas Senators voted preliminarily to pass a bill on March 30, 2015, that would give Texas public schools a letter grade based on standardized test scores.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Texas Senate is moving forward with a proposal to assign letter grades to Texas public schools.

Supporters say this bill would boost failing schools, while opponents say these grades will stigmatize schools and create more of a problem. 

State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, says his bill, SB 6, would empower parents. They’d have more information about how their children’s schools are doing once their school gets an A through F grade based on standardized test scores.

Read more
Politics
6:28 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Pharmacists Group Votes To Discourage Members From Providing Execution Drugs

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 7:16 pm

The largest pharmacist association in the country has voted to discourage its members from participating in executions.

The move could make executions harder for states that have been ordering their drugs from compounding pharmacies. As we've reported, some states like Texas turned to the pharmacies after big pharmaceutical companies — under pressure from death penalty opponents — decided to stop selling their drugs to U.S. prisons.

Read more
Texas Standard
1:37 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

How Texas Summers Inspired a Novel Change to the Water Balloon Fight

Check out the world's "only self-sealing water balloons."
Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.

“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.

Read more
Texas
11:45 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Report: Health Commission Was Found to Be 'in Quiet Turmoil'

Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek whispers to an aide at a hearing of the Sunset Advisory Commission on Jan. 14, 2015.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Leadership problems at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the wake of a contracting scandal that resulted in forced resignations leave the agency too vulnerable to consolidate at this time, according to a report released Monday by Gov. Greg Abbott's handpicked "strike force."

The report found that too often decisions at the committee are reactive and that when the strike force team came to the agency in January, the agency found it "in quiet turmoil."

Read more
2016 Presidential Election
11:19 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Are New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters Tired of Texas Candidates?

Ted Cruz speaks in New Hampshire; Rick Perry appears on Fox News earlier this year.
Ben Philpott/KUT News; YouTube screenshot

From George W. Bush to Ron Paul to Rick Perry — and now Ted Cruz and, presumably, Perry together — the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary has had a Texan on the ticket for a while. And while Republicans in Texas may say that with pride, how do the people of New Hampshire feel about Texans in the race?

By and large, most New Hampshire residents said they weren’t feeling the “Texas fatigue” one might expect with the continual stable of Lone Star candidates. In the case of Cruz, who was there last weekend kicking off his campaign, his proposals outshone any regional biases. In the case of Perry, some primary voters showed surprising support for a candidate who placed sixth in the 2012 contest.

Read more
U.S.
10:57 am
Mon March 30, 2015

How Many Crimes Do Your Police 'Clear'? Now You Can Find Out

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 4:22 pm

Violent crime in America has been falling for two decades. That's the good news. The bad news is, when crimes occur, they mostly go unpunished.

In fact, for most major crimes, police don't even make an arrest or identify a suspect. That's what police call "clearing" a crime; the "clearance rate" is the percentage of offenses cleared.

In 2013, the national clearance rate for homicide was 64 percent, and it's far lower for other violent offenses and property crimes.

Read more
Gender Divide
9:02 am
Mon March 30, 2015

For History Teachers, It's Not Always Easy to Get Students of Color to Connect with Curriculum

Candace Hunter teaches U.S. History at the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy. She says the struggle to connect history with young students has less to do with race and more to do with socioeconomics.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues, KUT

James Brewster and Candace Hunter have tough jobs.

They teach U.S. history at the new single-sex middle schools in Northeast Austin: Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy and Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy. Both schools are located in low income neighborhoods with majority minority students.

Teaching students in low income neighborhoods brings its own set of challenges, but teaching social studies brings more difficulties. Many times their students have had little to no exposure to U.S. history before entering their classrooms.

Read more
Life & Arts
8:21 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Trevor Noah Will Replace Jon Stewart As Host Of 'The Daily Show'

Trevor Noah, 31, will become the new host of The Daily Show later this year.
Comedy Central

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 7:26 pm

South African comedian Trevor Noah will become the new host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, stepping into the role Jon Stewart has filled for 16 years.

Confirming reports of his new job Monday morning, Noah tweeted, "No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!"

Read more
Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Higher Ed: The Meaning and Nuance of Numbers

Credit creative commons

From pre-K and all the way through graduate studies in math, we learn about numbers. But think about it - what is a number, really? What does the concept of  "four" or a "million" of something actually mean? In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger try to define what numbers really are and how we make meaning of them. It's tougher than you might first think. Listen on to hear their attempt!

Read more
Austin
1:11 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

AT&T Outage in Austin Reportedly Caused by Cut Fiber Optic Line

Kent Chen/flickr

An AT&T outage affecting Austin and surrounding areas was caused by a fiber optic line cut, officials say.

Update 1:30 p.m. Austin-Travis County EMS sent out a final situation alert tweet stating that most if not all service has been reinstated.

Read more
2016 Election
8:11 pm
Sat March 28, 2015

Ted Cruz Wraps Up New Hampshire Trip

Sen. Cruz speaks to the Young America's Foundation dinner in Nashua, NH
Ben Philpott/KUT News

Texas Senator Ted Cruz ended his first official week as a Presidential candidate in the snow in New Hampshire. As the skies spit small flakes, the kind that shut down most Texas towns but are barely noticed in New England, Cruz turned up the heat indoors with a rousing 40-minute speech that drew six standing ovations.

Tom Fergus was in the crowd of more than 200 people attending the brunch at the Portsmouth Country Club. While national media and some Republican pundits have said Cruz's campaign doesn't have the broad appeal needed to make a successful run, Fergus says Cruz's message fits right in with the "rugged individualist Yankees that we are."

Read more
Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Warning: Wildflower Picture Season is Also Snake Season

For most Texans, spring time gives us a small window of opportunity to trek outside in some bearable weather. It's almost become a tradition for Texans to use this precious time to take photos in patches of bluebonnets. But just as we humans are beginning to shake off winter and go outside into the sun, so are are the snakes.

Anyone who's spent a significant time in the southwest can tell you, snake bites are a real danger. So what do you do if you encounter one?

Read more
Texas Standard
2:44 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Kidnapped Texas Journalist Could Be In Negotiations For Release

It's no shock that the increased tension in the Middle East has made it tough for Western journalists to cover stories there. That trek didn’t deter Austin Tice, a former Marine from Houston turned freelance journalist, who went to Syria to cover the ongoing civil war. Now, Tice finds himself in trouble.

Read more
KUT Weekend
2:37 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

Arts Eclectic
1:30 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

A Dance Among 'The Trees of Govalle'

Forklift Danceworks specializes in dances starring people who don’t consider themselves dancers – firefighters, baseball players, sanitation workers, and now, members of the City of Austin’s Urban Forestry Division. 

Staging a large scale dance with the people and machinery of Urban Forestry is a natural fit for Forklift; they've already undertaken similar projects with the city's sanitation and power departments.

The piece, The Trees of Govalle, is more tied to place than some of Forklift's previous works. It's about the people of Urban Forestry, the work they do, and the trees they service, but it's also about a particular area of town: the Govalle neighborhod in East Austin. As such, it'll take place in Govalle Park. And, in addition to the Urban Forestry workers who will be dancing and participating, The Trees of Govalle will also feature Govalle resident and bona fide musical treasure Manuel "Cowboy" Donley, who will perform along with his daughter Sylvia Donley.

Read more

Pages