Education
10:20 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Map: The Cost of Private Schools Under Two Different Voucher Bills

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This week, the Texas Senate Education committee started to tackle multiple bills that would create school voucher programs. The proposals are strongly supported by conservative lawmakers, especially Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

One bill filed by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would create a grant giving parents 60 percent of the annual cost for maintenance and operations per student, or about $5,200, through the proposed Taxpayer Savings Grant. Another bill would give 75 percent of that annual per-student funding to parents, or just over $6,500 though the so-called Education Tuition Grant.

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The Two-Way
7:31 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Sen. Harry Reid Says He Won't Seek Re-Election

YouTube

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 10:13 am

Updated at 11:12 a.m.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Democratic leader in the Senate, said he won't seek re-election next year.

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The Two-Way
11:32 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Official Report: Nuclear Waste Accident Caused By Wrong Cat Litter

Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory used organic cat litter to clean up nuclear waste. The litter triggered chemical reactions that later caused a drum to burst.
Department of Energy/Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 7:35 am

A yearlong investigation by government scientists has concluded that a major accident at a nuclear waste dump was caused by the wrong brand of cat litter.

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Austin
5:13 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Co-owner of Former Jumpolin Property Forced Out as CEO of Status Labs

The Jumpolin site shortly after the demolition.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Jordan French, the landowner responsible for the Cesar Chavez piñata store teardown that rocked Austin in February, resigned today as CEO of Austin-based reputation management and PR company Status Labs. The company's employees asked French to resign, according to a press release they sent out Thursday afternoon.

Their request for French's resignation appears to be a direct result of the actions he took in ordering the demolition of Jumpolin, an East Austin party supply store, with all the merchandise still inside. 

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Transportation
2:26 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

One Dead After Partial Bridge Collapse, I-35 Shut Down Near Salado

I-35 was closed after a truck hit the beam of a bridge that was under construction. This image shows the traffic around the area at 2pm.
TxDOT

I-35 is closed in both directions just south of Salado, a town about 60 miles north of Austin, after an oversized tractor-trailer struck the FM 2484 overpass bridge under construction. The Texas Department of Transportation says the impact caused several beams to fall onto the highway. 

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Texas Standard
2:25 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Population Growth: Big Texas Keeps Getting Bigger

Texas has gotten used to topping lists about booming business and population growth. And while the headline of today’s Census Bureau data is all about Florida, don’t be fooled. Texas is still leading the way in a lot of areas.

“In a lot of cases, Texas leads a lot of the growth area statistics primarily because Texas itself is very, very large,” U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Branch Chief Ben Bolender says.

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Austin
12:23 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Housing Prices are Rising Faster than Wages in Austin, But Maybe Not for Long

flickr.com/gjmj

Austin home values are going up much faster than wages, according to a new report. But experts say it likely won’t continue that way for long.

If you own a home in the Austin-Rock Rock area, it's probably worth a lot more now than it was two years ago: Median home prices here have gone up by almost 23 percent over the last two years, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data firm based in California. 

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Austin
10:27 am
Thu March 26, 2015

MoPac Boulevard Project Completion Delayed

Officials have pushed back the MoPac construction completion date.
Courtesy of MoPac Improvement Project

From the Austin Monitor:

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority officials announced Wednesday that a fully operational MoPac Boulevard may not happen until the end of the year. While the announcement currently delays construction only three-and-a-half months, officials said they were not confident they could complete the work even then.

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2015 Legislature
9:32 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Texas Bill Would Ensure that Only Secretary of State Can Issue Marriage Licenses

A bill from State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) would give all power to grant marriage licenses to the Texas Secretary of State. A judge granted an order earlier this year that allowed a county clerk to issue a license to a same-sex couple.
Courtesy of Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant

On Wednesday, a panel of House lawmakers discussed a proposal to change how marriage licenses are issued in Texas, giving that power to one appointed official: the Secretary of State.

The bill comes after the Travis County clerk issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple last month, after being ordered to do so by a judge.

State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) says his bill would take away the ability of the state’s 254 county clerks to issue marriage licenses, instead giving that power only to the Secretary of State.

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The Two-Way
7:12 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Co-Pilot Showed 'Willingness To Destroy Aircraft,' Prosecutor Says

An image from AFP TV video taken Tuesday shows smoke billowing from scattered debris of the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the crash site in the French Alps above the town of Seyne-les-Alpes, France.
Denis Bois AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 4:44 pm

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 appears to have deliberately crashed the plane carrying 150 people into the French Alps after the pilot had left the cockpit, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said at a news conference Thursday.

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In Black America Podcast
5:49 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

The Tenth Annual Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards

These coaches were among many who were selected as Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Salute to Excellence Honorees.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 10th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards held during Super Bowl XLIX week.

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Education
2:46 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Texas House Wants to Tackle School Finance During Session

Texas' school finance system, which a district court judge ruled is unconstitutional, is currently tangled up in the appeals process at the State Supreme Court.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

In a somewhat surprising move, the state House Public Education committee Chair announced Wednesday that the house will try to tackle the state’s school finance system this legislative session.

The school finance system, which a district court judge ruled is unconstitutional, is currently tangled up in the appeals process at the Texas Supreme Court. Many people familiar with education politics in Texas believed the legislature wouldn’t make any decisions before the court ruled. But at a press conference this morning, House Education Committee chair Jimmie Don Aycock said the state must act now.

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Wayback Wednesday
2:11 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

A Look Back at Texas Relays' Long Run in Austin

This week's Wayback Wednesday marks the Texas Relays weekend, an 88-year-old tradition that brings some of the country's finest track-and-field athletes to the 40 acres.

With that in mind, we've cobbled together a collection of gifs to mark the occasion, taking a look at highlights from past years' competitions.

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Austin
10:10 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Boot Camp Helps Small Business Owners Build Entrepreneurial Strength

PCW, a small construction business in Austin, Tex.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Hispanics are twice as likely to start a small business as any other group in the United States, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

But the failure rate for small businesses is high – nearly 50 percent don't make it. An organization in Austin hopes it can train small business owners the skills to succeed.

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Texas Standard
3:47 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Water Fight in Wimberley Could Have Statewide Implications

A sign in Wimberley protesting the Electro Purification plan.
Laura Rice/Texas Standard

About 60 percent of the water we use in Texas comes from aquifers – natural underground reservoirs that often aren’t easily replenished. In Hays County, aquifers have raised a critical question: Who has the right to draw from the Trinity Aquifer, how much they can draw – and can anyone stop them?

A private company based out of Houston – Electro Purification (EP) – plans to pump groundwater from around the city of Wimberley and pipe it to other thirsty communities. EP has contracts to pipe more than 5 million gallons of water a day from this part of the Trinity Aquifer through the year 2036.

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News
3:27 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

ISIS Now Doxxing Members of US Military

The group claimed it hacked several military servers, databases and emails to obtain the information.

Doxxing — derived from the word 'documents' — is a common tactic used by online hacktivist groups such as Anonymous, wherein personally identifiable information about targets is posted on the internet. Over the weekend, about 100 U.S. military servicemen and women were doxxed by the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

The posting included soldiers' names, addresses, photos and other information, and it asked sympathizers to, "Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe."

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News
2:07 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Texas Leads the Push Against Obama's Immigration Action

Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a Texas Tribune panel in 2013. Paxton is leading a fight against President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

From The Texas Standard:

After a federal judge in Brownsville ruled to temporarily block the president's executive order on immigration in February, 25 other states signed on to the lawsuit.

The 26-state coalition, led by Texas, claims the Obama administration's actions were unconstitutional in that they represent an overreach by the executive and impose an "undue burden" on the state.

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Austin
10:30 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Map: In Austin, Noise Complaints are on the Rise

Austinite Kingston Arbor, 3 months old, hangs with his father Ryan Arbor at an Austin music festival in 2013.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Despite the best efforts by Austinites to dissuade out-of-towners from moving here, they are. The city’s grown more than any other metropolitan area over the last five years, and with all that growth comes plenty of noise. That's not to mention the additional noise brought about by events like SXSW, which draw thousands of party-happy visitors from all over the world.

So it's not surprising that as Austin grows larger, it might also be growing louder. Over the past five years, noise complaints in Austin have gone up by 470 percent, from 2,782 total complaints in 2010 to 13,100 in 2014. Still, only 1.5 percent of those have faced citation – 515 out of 33,107, according to city data obtained by KUT. Below you can view the increase in noise complaints from 2010 to 2014 in an interactive map.

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Election 2016
9:25 am
Tue March 24, 2015

What Might Ted Cruz’s First and Only Run for Office Tell Us About his Presidential Campaign?

Ted Cruz celebrates on Election Night 2012.
Michael Stravato/Texas Tribune

Reporters and political pundits across the county are scrambling to handicap Ted Cruz's chances of winning the Republican Presidential nomination. But unlike most other expected candidates, Cruz has little campaign experience to review. He rose from relative obscurity to win his 2012 U.S. Senate race.

So what can that race tell us about Cruz’s Presidential chances?

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U.S. Supreme Court
4:52 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Justices Debate Place Of Offensive Language On License Plates

R. James George Jr., attorney for Sons of Confederate Veterans, meets with reporters outside the Supreme Court Monday.
Molly Riley AP

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 5:58 pm

Nazis, jihadis, racial slurs and even "Mighty Fine Burgers" all made cameo appearances at the U.S. Supreme Court Monday as the justices tackled a case of great interest to America's auto-loving public. The question before the court: When, if ever, can the state veto the message on a specialty license plate?

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