Wayback Wednesday
4:33 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Austin's Referendum That Would've Legalized Sexuality-Based Housing Discrimination

Jim Obergefell (second from left) celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage last week. Still, he said, housing discrimination remains an issue for the LGBTQ community.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Last week’s Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges represents a monumental step in the movement for LGBTQ equal rights, but it wasn’t the final footfall in Texas. As the case's lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell put it last week in a rally at the State Capitol, issues surrounding employment and fair housing protections aren’t codified in Texas state law.

But, in Austin, the city council passed a sexual preference employment protection in August of 1975, and a “public accommodations ordinance” that banned discrimination based on sexual preference in 1976. So why, despite those progressive policies, did an Austin organization lead an initiative to allow discrimination on the basis of sexual preference? 

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Energy & Environment
2:12 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Austin Remains in Stage Two Water Restrictions, Maybe Forever

Austin's Stage 2 water restrictions may become permanent, despite the recent rainfall.
Austin Monitor

Austin will remain in Stage 2 water restrictions despite above average rainfall for the year and the historic amount that fell in May. The city is also examining whether to adopt those restrictions permanently.

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Energy & Environment
12:48 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

What's Next for Local Drilling Bans in Texas?

A new state law bans local bans on hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Some towns, like Denton, find their local bans have become unenforceable.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

This year state lawmakers severely restricted the ability of Texas towns to regulate local oil and gas drilling.

A law known as House Bill 40 was a reaction to a fracking ban passed by voters in the North Texas city of Denton.

Denton has come to represent local fracking bans and clashes between local governments and the oil and gas industry. But while Denton was the first city in Texas to ban fracking, it wasn't the first city to ban drilling within city limits.

That practice goes back years, according to a survey by the Texas Municipal League.

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Texas Standard
11:01 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Why One Texas Legislator Wants a Special Session On Marriage Equality

Revelers rallied in downtown Austin Friday after SCOTUS legalized same-sex marriage. State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) says we should 'divorce marriage from government if we want to protect it.'
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

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In Black America Podcast
10:39 am
Wed July 1, 2015

The Thrill Is Gone: Remembering The Legendary B.B. King

In this June 20, 2008 photo, musician B.B. King performs at the opening night of the 87th season of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. King died Thursday, May 14, 2015, peacefully in his sleep at his Las Vegas home at age 89, his lawyer said.
Credit AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with legendary blues musician B.B. King. King died on May 14, 2015. He was 89.

The winner of 15 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, and more, King leaves a legacy of influence on American music. Coming from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, he remained true to the blues, and won millions of fans including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and U.S. Presidents.

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Education
10:14 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Not All School Districts Warm to Miller's Food Initiative

Despite the Agriculture Commissioner's lifting a ban on deep fryers in public schools, many say they don't want them back, anyway.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: Students eager to purchase soda and fried foods when they return to school in the fall may be disappointed, despite Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's recent announcement that both will be welcome back on Texas public school campuses after a 10-year ban. 

To the dismay of nutritionists and public health experts, Miller reversed the department's ban on soda machines and deep fat fryers in mid-June as part of a new state nutrition policy calling for more local foods, community engagement and training to help schools serve meals that are "attractive and taste great." 

But many large school districts aren't warming to Miller's initiative.

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Texas
8:22 am
Wed July 1, 2015

State Employees' Same-Sex Spouses and Their Children Are Now Eligible for Benefits

Diane Jones and Bryna Wortham stand with Rev. Richard Bates at their wedding ceremony at the Travis County Courthouse on June 26, 2015
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

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The Two-Way
4:35 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Border Patrol Urged To Crack Down On Corruption In Its Own Ranks

U.S. agents compare notes as they patrol along the Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. A draft report by outside experts calls for steps to confront any claims of corruption in the Border Patrol.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 8:17 pm

A new government report recommends that the U.S. Border Patrol double its internal affairs investigators to focus on corruption and the alleged mistreatment of migrants along the Mexican border.

The interim report, written at the request of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, focuses on three themes: rooting out corruption within the agency; reining in the unauthorized use of force by Border Patrol agents; and improving departmental transparency.

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The Two-Way
12:21 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

11:59:60 — Look For An Extra Tick Of The Clock Tonight

Clocks around the world, like Big Ben, will have an extra second added tonight.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 6:38 pm

If you're worried about finishing everything on your to-do list, you'll get an extra second today to cram it all in.

The extra second is called a "leap second." At the very end of the day, the clock will read 11:59:60 Universal Time (the official time that international timekeepers use) or 7:59:60 p.m. ET.

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Health
11:37 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Austin Regional Clinic to Stop Taking Unvaccinated Children as Patients

Austin Regional Clinic officials say unvaccinated pediatric patients pose health risks to other hospital patients.
US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

The Austin Regional Clinic will stop accepting new unvaccinated pediatric patients — that is, children whose parents have opted them out of routine vaccinations. The ARC announced its new policy this morning.

The regional health system, which has locations in Austin plus six surrounding cities, cites patient safety as the reason for the new regulation, set to take effect Wednesday.

“Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC,” clinic officials said in the release.

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HB 2
9:41 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Supreme Court Reprieve Lets 10 Texas Abortion Clinics Stay Open For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court gave a reprieve to Texas clinics that provide abortion services.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 11:38 pm

Tuesday would have been the last day of operation for 10 clinics in Texas that provide abortion services. But on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of its final actions of this session, said the clinics can remain open while clinic lawyers ask the court for a full review of a strict abortion law.

Two dozen states have passed regulations similar to the ones being fought over in Texas.

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Law
7:24 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Supreme Court Concludes Term With Death Penalty Ruling, Looks Ahead

The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. On Monday the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 12:52 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued the last of its opinions for this term — on the death penalty, anti-pollution regulations and the power of independent commissions to draw congressional and state legislative districts. In addition, the court issued a set of orders that set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

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Abortion
3:04 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Texas Abortion Rules

Credit Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

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Same-Sex Marriage
2:35 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Jim Obergefell: I'm 'Humbled To Be a Part' of Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Case

Jim Obergefell (second from left) celebrates the outcome of his landmark same-sex marriage case at the Texas Capitol.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The plaintiff at the heart of last week's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is trekking the country on a multi-state tour that brought him to Austin today. Jim Obergefell is the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges.

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Arts Eclectic
1:39 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Doctuh Mistuh's Summer Double Feature

In recent years, the production company Doctuh Mistuh has staged crowd-pleasing musical versions of Evil Dead, Silence of the Lambs, and Reefer Madness; it's safe to say that pop culture musical theater is in their wheelhouse. So it's not too surprising that they're the company that secured the rights to produce the regional premiere of Heathers, the Musical, based on the 1988 dark comedy cult film. 

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Marriage
1:09 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Texas AG: Clerks Can Refuse Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples (Updated)

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

UPDATE Monday 1 p.m. A Texas State Senator is asking the Department of Justice to monitor and intervene, if necessary, in Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

The request comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion yesterday, saying some government officials could refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if they object on religious grounds.

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Same-Sex Marriage
12:09 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

First Austin Couple in Line For Marriage License Gets Legally Married

Rev. Karen Thompson of Austin's Metropolitan Community Church marries Lupe Garcia, left, and Cindy Stocking on June 27, 2015.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

The first same-sex couple to get to the Travis County Clerk’s Office on Friday, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, was legally married over the weekend.

At their ceremony on Saturday, Lupe Garcia and Cindy Stocking seemed calm, as though they’d stood at the altar together before with Reverend Karen Thompson, but they were getting married for the first time.

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It's All Politics
11:47 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Cruz: Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Will Be 'Front And Center' In 2016 Campaign

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds on same-sex marriage and health care.
Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 11:40 am

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz intends to make his opposition to the Supreme Court's decision last week to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide "front and center" in his presidential campaign.

In an interview with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Sunday in New York City, the GOP presidential hopeful doubled down on his belief that the court had overstepped its bounds in both the marriage decision and in upholding Obamacare. And as a result, Cruz said, the justices should be subject to elections and lose their lifetime appointments.

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Says Use Of Lethal Injection Drug Is Legal

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 12:47 pm

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

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Texas
10:54 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Many Central Texas Counties Now Issuing Marriage Licenses to All Couples

The Travis County Clerk issued 313 marriage licenses Friday to both same- and different-gender couples.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

After the Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some county clerks around the U.S. began issuing licenses right away, including Travis County in Texas. Other counties held out, though, citing a need for updated forms that incorporated the new rule.

Those forms had been distributed by Monday, so more counties opened up marriage licenses to both same- and different-sex couples Monday morning. This is despite a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the Supreme Court's decision "lawless" and said that Texas county clerks could opt-out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples if it violates the clerk's religious beliefs. They'd still face lawsuits if they did so, he said, but the state would provide pro bono representation in those cases.

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