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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."

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.

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.

ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of six states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.

House Bill 122, authored by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) and Gene Wu (D-Houston), passed the House last week and could be on its way to the Senate.


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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Isaac Newton Farris Jr., former CEO at the King Center, grandson of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and nephew of Dr. King Jr.

In this new foreword to the book, Farris shares what Daddy King meant to him as a family member and discusses the far-reaching legacy of King Sr.’s activism for civil rights and racial justice. 

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Members of the Texas House of Representatives today will consider Senate Bill 4, popularly known as the “sanctuary cities” bill. The bill would create criminal and civil penalties for law enforcement officials who do not honor all requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain suspected undocumented immigrants.

But how does an ICE detainer request work?

In this episode of The Write Up, host Owen Egerton talks to George Saunders about craft, ecstatic empathy and the afterlife in his first novel Lincoln in the Bardo.

Saunders is an award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of essays, short stories, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, GQ, Harper’s and McSweeny’s. His vast literary achievements include multiple National Magazine Awards, a McArthur and a Guggenheim fellowship, a Bram Stoker Award and a National Book Award.


Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

Even as President Donald Trump and the news media mark the 100th day of his administration, the thoughts of those keeping up with politics are already turning to the 2018 midterm elections.

Stephanie Tacy for KUT News

Austin and Travis County do not meet the definition of "sanctuary city" in the eyes of the federal government, Mayor Steve Adler said today after a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Circuit of the Americas racetrack has raised Austin's profile as an international destination for top-tier racing.

This story is not about that kind of racing.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Mosquito season is upon us, and Texas still isn’t out of the woods when it comes to Zika.

The mosquito-borne illness can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it while pregnant. Last year, there were 312 cases of Zika reported in the state.

John Koetsier/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is giving headaches to some of the state’s lawmakers, but it may be a self-inflicted ailment. In 2013, the Legislature scaled back the panel’s regulatory powers in an effort to give university leaders more of a role in determining what’s best for their students and institutions.

 

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

Today is the first day of early voting for the May 6 election. Here’s everything you need to know for races all across Central Texas.

But, before we get into the breakdown of what’s on the ballot, here are the early and Election Day voting locations for Travis and surrounding counties:

Spc. Carlynn Knaak/Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

From Texas Standard:

There's nothing unusual about a state lawmaker and a mayor being worried about turnout in a local election. But in Dallas, it's not just low turnout that's got two local leaders concerned. It's the cause.

 

Ståle Grut / Flickr

Five days after a controversial amendment defining "sex" as "the physical condition of being male or female" was added to a statewide ride-hailing bill, representatives from Uber and Lyft called the addition disappointing and unnecessary — though both companies stopped short of saying they'd withdraw their support. 

Chelsea Beck / NPR

Before his election, back in October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100 Day Action Plan. He called it his Contract With The American Voter. Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain "terror-prone regions," and the lifting of "roadblocks" to let "infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward."

For its upcoming fundraiser, Austin-based nonprofit CareBox Program will feature a lot of fundraiser staples: food, drinks, a live auction. It'll also feature performances from six of Austin's top standup comedians. This is the second year in a row that the young charity has staged a comedy showcase for its annual fundraiser.

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