Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Texas House Approves 'Sanctuary Cities' Bill

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to penalize jurisdictions that don't honor detainer requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

We are about 48 hours away from the federal government shutting down if members of the House and Senate can't come to some sort of budgetary agreement. We have been here before – passing continuing resolutions at the 11th hour to keep the government's doors open has become something of a Washington tradition. Right now, lawmakers are haggling over funding President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, increased defense spending, and payments to insurance companies that offer plans on Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

Nathan Bernier / KUT

You may not realize that a bottle of wine can be labeled as if it's from Texas, but only 75 percent of the grape juice used needs to be from the Lone Star State.

House Bill 1514, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), would require "Texas wine" to be made entirely with grapes grown here. 

We learned more about the story from Texas Monthly drinks columnist Jessica Dupuy, who attended a hearing on the bill this week. 


"I think Austin Opera is the highest-potential opera in the U.S. right now," says Annie Burridge, the newly-appointed general director for Austin Opera. "We have an outstanding artistic product."

As part of her mission at the opera, Burridge hopes to keep producing quality work while reaching a new and larger audience. She acknowledges that opera isn't the primary style of music that people associate with Austin, but adds with a laugh, "Now, I hope to change that."

To close out the opera's current, 30th anniversary season, they're presenting a fresh staging of Puccini's classic Madame Butterfly. "It's a timeless piece, but the themes of hope and love and conviction and the ways in which war can bring all of those things tumbling down is certainly a timeless theme," Burridge says. "And the reason that the opera persists and persists is because the music is that outstanding and the subject matter is that compelling."

Award-winning baritone Michael Chioldi is returning to Austin Opera to sing the role of Sharpless. It's a role that he's played to great acclaim several times, and one that he has grown to appreciate more as he's grown older. "I used to call him Pointless instead of Sharpless when I was younger," he says. "I wanted the meat, I wanted to do... the heavy lifting, as it were. And Sharpless does the heavy lifting in a very quiet way. And as I've matured as an artist and as a performer, I've realized how effective this role can be."

If you're one of the many who text, read email or view Facebook on your phone while driving, be warned: Police in your community may soon have a tool for catching you red-handed.

The new "textalyzer" technology is modeled after the Breathalyzer, and would determine if you had been using your phone illegally on the road.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard:

As the Texas House works to balance the state's budget, some lawmakers are attempting to abolish a tax – a source of revenue whose loss others fear could jeopardize public education to the tune of untold billions. Earlier in the legislative session, the Senate voted to eliminate the franchise tax – a tax on businesses that's based on gross receipts. The franchise tax brings in $8 billion, during each two year budget cycle. A large chunk of that revenue pays for public schools.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

President Trump told reporters Thursday he had been planning to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement within days, but decided to try to renegotiate the agreement instead. The president held out the possibility of killing the trade deal later if the negotiations fail.

With just two days left to stop a partial shutdown of the federal government, the Trump administration on Wednesday removed another major sticking point in the spending bill negotiations.

The White House told lawmakers it will not cut off federal subsidies that help low-income Americans pay for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, at least for now, an administration official and congressional sources confirm to NPR.

Democrats sought to have the federal payment — known as a cost-sharing reduction, or CSR — included in the spending package.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

The Trump administration Wednesday put forth a proposal that it labeled a "massive" tax overhaul, which would give big tax cuts to individuals and corporations and reduce the number of tax brackets and deductions.

Eric Schlegel

The Texas Senate on Wednesday passed legislation requiring three-point seat belts be installed on newly purchased school buses across the state. 

Senate Bill 693, authored by Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, cleared the chamber in a 25-6 vote following strong pushback from one Republican who suggested seat belts make buses less safe.

“Seat belts save lives,” Garcia said on the floor.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A federal judge in California on Tuesday froze President Donald Trump’s executive order that would withhold funds from “sanctuary cities” across the nation. So far, the base definition of such an area includes jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with immigration detention orders.

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