Enivornment
4:48 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

TCEQ Sunset Bill Gives Permit Applicants More Weight

The Texas House passed the TCEQ Sunset Bill that reauthorizes the state environmental reguations agency for another 12 years.
Photo by KUT News.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lives on for another 12 years…at least according to the Texas House, who passed the sunset bill with some changes.

The biggest change environmentalists are fuming over is an amendment submitted by Rep. Warrren Chisum (R-Pampa) that would shift the burden of proof from companies to the person who requested a contested case hearing who must also show that a permit should not be granted or renewed.

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Texas
3:52 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Texas Bans Marijuana-Like Substances K2, Spice

Products containing a synthetic THC-like substance are sometimes smoked in water pipes.
Photo by smokershighlife http://www.flickr.com/photos/smokershighlife/

The Texas Department of State Health Services waited until the day most marijuana users celebrate the drug to announce it is banning products that simulate cannabis. In a news release posted on its website, DSHS said it is banning substances found in products like K2 and Spice, effective this Friday, April 22.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Feds Join Battle Against Possum Kingdom Wildfire

Wildfires burn out of control near Possum Kingdom Lake in this image from last Friday. The blaze has already destroyed more than 100 homes.
Photo by Texas Military Forces http://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/

More than 600 homes are threatened in an area around Possum Kingdom Lake, about an hour west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, after four wildfires merged into one.

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economy
1:20 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Fewer Homes Sold Last Month, But Median Price Was Up

The median price of a home in Austin rose two percent in March.
Photo by KUT News

Ten percent fewer Austin homes were sold in March 2011 compared to March of last year, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report issued today by the Austin Board of Realtors. But the median price was up two percent to $185,260.

An $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers that expired in 2010 is still making it harder to compare numbers now with numbers then, according to Austin Board of Realtors chair Judith Bundschuh.

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Austin
1:17 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

City Projects Deficit, Tax Increase Expected

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

The Austin City Council got its first look at budget projections for the next fiscal year today.

Budget managers told council members that falling property values and sales tax collections mean revenue is not keeping up with the cost of maintaining city services at current levels. The projections showed homeowners could face higher property taxes next year.

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Education
11:55 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Central Texas Superintendent Salaries Per Enrolled Student

With Central Texas superintendents shedding portions of their salaries to share the pain of public school cuts, we thought it would be interesting to compare their base salaries. We then broke it down on a dollar per student basis.  Continue reading for an interactive graph.

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Austin
11:55 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Dad Shot and Killed Two Women Because of Daughter's Relationship

Austin Police continue to investigate the murder of a mother and daughter in South Austin.
Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office will continue to investigate a double homicide that happened this week in South Austin to determine whether it will pursue the case as a hate crime. A staffer with the DA’s office said attorneys would have to do more investigation before a decision could be made.

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Education
11:07 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Round Rock ISD Details $40 Million In Cuts

Round Rock ISD has explained exactly how it plans to cut $40.7 million from its budget.
Photo of RRISD website by KUT News

Facing a projected budget deficit of $61 million, the Round Rock Independent School District has explained how it plans to eliminate $40.7 million of that shortfall. A prioritized list of 64 specific cuts would reduce the deficit to about $20 million. That remaining gap would be covered by RRISD's fund balance, a savings account that holds about $200 million.

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News Brief
5:25 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 20, 2011

Flames destroy property near Possum Kingdom Lake. Texas National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters were launched out of the Austin Army Aviation Support Facility to help fight the wildfires in North Texas.
Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon.

Wildfires Continue to Burn Near Fort Worth

Wildfires burning west of Fort Worth have destroyed nearly 150 homes and one church.  The Texas Forest Service says evacuations have been ordered near Possum Kingdom Lake, including the evacuation of a jail.  Two Texas Army National Guard Blackhawk Helicopters are among the resources being used.  These wildfires west of Fort Worth have burned nearly 150,000 acres.

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Texas
12:24 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

San Marcos Imposes Stage 1 Water Restrictions

Lawns in San Marcos won't be looking like this much longer, as the city adopts Stage 1 Water Restrictions on car washing, swimming pools...and lawn watering.
Photo by KUT News

Folks living in San Marcos will have to be careful how they use water, because of persistent dry conditions.

The City of San Marcos says that, because aquifer levels has dropped below average, they're preparing to implement Stage 1 Water Restrictions.

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Politics
12:19 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

National Day of Prayer is Constitutional

National Day of Prayer is the first Thursday in May
Photo by Kenn Zuniga

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dismissed a lawsuit last week claiming that the President’s National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, claims that the day violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. ”

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Politics
12:18 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

State Employees Warned of Phone Scam Linked to Data Snafu

Attorney General Greg Abbott announces an organized scam against people whose information was released online.
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

Texans affected by an internet security breach by the Comptroller's office are now being targeted by a new telephone scam. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement today saying a state employee reported to the AG that they received a phone call from someone claiming to be with the Employees Retirement System of Texas.

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News Brief
6:11 am
Tue April 19, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 19, 2011

Devastation from the 100-acre fire in Oak Hill on Sunday.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Monitoring Oak Hill Hot Spots

The Austin Fire Department says eight firefighters are still in Oak Hill looking out for any hot spots from Sunday’s 100-acre blaze.  Firefighters worked overnight and officials say the fire is around 90 percent contained this morning.

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Education
4:09 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Golden 'Horns

A Dallas hedge-fund manager reportedly helped UTIMCO secure 6,643 gold bars, worth nearly $1 billion
Image courtesy flickr.com/hto2008

Some investors believe that buying gold is a good hedge against inflation.  If that's the case, then the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) may be protected for some time.

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Tax Day
1:31 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Dollars, Taxes

Photo by KUT News.

The extra time is running out.  Your income tax return has to be postmarked or electronically received by the Internal Revenue Service by midnight tonight.

Normally, the deadline is April 15.  This year, however, the normal date coincided with Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.  The IRS announce in January that they were moving things ahead to April 18 for this year.

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