Ben Philpott

Senior Reporter, State Politics and Policy

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and has been named Radio Journalist of the Year by the Houston Press club three times.

Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Agenda Texas: Saturday is Gun Day in the Texas House

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas is a gun-friendly state. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. That fact is easy to see during any given legislative session, when bills are often filed expanding where people can carry in the state.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Agenda Texas: What's a Point of Order?

Separate from the Supreme Court's recent decision, a federal court will decide on the constitutionality of Texas redistricting.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

Alright class: get out your pencils, it’s quiz time. 

True or False: If a bill is brought up for debate in the Texas House, and a majority of lawmakers support the bill, nothing can defeat it.

Time’s up.

Who said True? O.k. none of you get pudding after dinner.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Agenda Texas: Tanking the Water Bill

As Texas faces one of the driest years on record, a team of people with a stake in water from the Highland Lakes have agreed on a plan for Lower Colorado River Authority's water management over the next 10 years.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

You might have heard a major effort to pay for water projects went down in flames last night in the Texas House. House Bill 11 would have spent $2 billion out of the state’s rainy day account to finally fund the state’s 50-year water plan.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Agenda Texas: Gov. Perry Joins the Fight

Lawmakers can raise money for their campaigns until 30 days before the Legislature convenes.
KUT News

Only four weeks until the end of the 83rd Legislative session. As the days wind down, we’ll see more and more bills hitting the House and Senate floors.

Budget, Budget Everywhere...

The only must-pass bill, the state budget for the next two years, will garner much of the attention this week, even though that bill has already passed the House and Senate.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Agenda Texas: The Influence of Presidential Libraries

Former President George W. Bush speaking at the dedication of the Bush Presidential Center
Filipa Rodrigues

Yesterday we talked about how the opening of the Bush Museum and Library in Dallas begins the rehabilitation of the former President’s political past. Today, let’s look at how the Bush Institute, the policy think-tank section of the Bush Center might affect the country’s political future. 

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Agenda Texas: The Rehabilitation of Bush's Legacy

Former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush in front of the Bush Center in Dallas
Filipa Rodrigues

You've probably heard there was a little ceremony in Dallas today to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The event included speeches by all the living U.S. Presidents, to officially open the 43rd President’s library, museum and policy think-tank.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Agenda Texas: The Legacy of Governor George W. Bush

An exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library
Filipa Rodrigues

The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be officially dedicated tomorrow on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Dignitaries from across the political world will be on hand to get a peek at the 13th official Presidential library.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Photos: Inside the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The George W. Bush Presidential Library has its dedication Thursday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Former first lady Laura Bush says one of the most emotionally moving museum exhibits focuses on the 9/11 attacks.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Agenda Texas: A Written Defense of the 'Texas Miracle'

“Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas” is the newest book from Texas Monthly senior editor Erica Grieder.

It’s been called the Texas Miracle: Hundreds of thousands of jobs added, millions of people and thousands of companies moving here from other states.

But that sense of pride inside Texas isn’t shared outside the state. Critics say the majority of jobs created don’t pay well and the state’s low tax-low service model has led to crumbling schools, inadequate roads and a water crisis.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Agenda Texas: Looming Legislative Deadlines

Deadlines start soon in the legislature
Calendar by Texas Legislative Council

Over 6,000 bills were filed in the 2013 legislative session. And historically speaking, only about 20 percent of them will be signed into law.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Agenda Texas: What has CPRIT Accomplished?

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Last Thursday we talked about the origins of the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. Today, in the midst of continued efforts to reform the way the agency works, let’s take a look at what the agency’s actually done.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Agenda Texas: Bond Rating Battle

Could spending the Rainy Day Fund lower the state's bond rating?
Tracy Olson/Flickr flickr.com/tracy_olson/

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Agenda Texas: The Politics of Transportation Funding

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

When you hear pretty much any speech by Governor Rick Perry you’re almost guaranteed to hear about economic prosperity in Texas. The thousands of people moving here each day, the hundreds of companies leaving some other state to set down low tax, low regulation roots in Texas.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Agenda Texas: Ethics, Guns and Taxes Lead Legislative Week

Lawmakers can raise money for their campaigns until 30 days before the Legislature convenes.
KUT News

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Politics
5:30 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Agenda Texas: 2014 Elections Drive the 2013 Session

Election Day is Saturday for several Central Texas cities and school districts.
Photo by KUT News

We’ve still got a few weeks left in the Texas Legislative session. And while the bills have begun to fly around the Capitol, Spring is also the time when a young lawmaker’s mind turns to other things: the next election.

But is it too soon to be thinking about 2014 and beyond?

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Agenda Texas: CPRIT's Creation Story

Texas Lawmakers Have Ideas to Keep the Healthcare Law Out of Texas
Texas Tribune

Now you may have heard about the current troubles the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is going through. Lead scientists have quit over what they claim were inadequate reviews of grant recipients.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Agenda Texas: UT Regents Battle the Legislature

Is a new day dawning for the UT Regents and the Lege? Or will a meeting tomorrow hasten already stormy weather?
Nicolas Raymond / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

It’s a battle that’s enflamed passions on both sides and even brought one lawmaker to tears.

No, it’s not school funding, or abortion.  On its face, it’s an investigation over how the UT-Austin Law School Foundation ran a forgivable loan program.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Agenda Texas: Another Run at Casino Gambling

Rob Boudon/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/robboudon/5817404296/

As Yogi Berra would say, it’s déjà vu all over again in the Texas Legislature for supporters of casino gambling in Texas.

For the 27th session in a row (that's our unofficial estimate) there’s a push to create casino gambling in Texas. 

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Politics
5:30 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Agenda Texas: Gambling, Education Headline the Week Ahead

Here's what's happening under the dome.
Lizzie Chen, KUT News

As your guide to everything under the dome and how it hits home (yes that's our tag line) Agenda Texas will try to keep you in the loop on the big bills moving through the Legislature each week.

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