Bobby Blanchard

Intern for KUT News

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
3:40 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Lawsuit Lenders Facing Regulation

Doug Miller addresses members of the press at the Captiol on Monday. Miller has filed a bill that would regulate the lawsuit lending industry.
Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Supporters say a new bill in the Texas Legislature would help protect consumers and regulate a quiet but burgeoning industry.

House Bill 1595 from Rep. Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) would regulate the growing industry of lawsuit lending. Lawsuit lending companies provide loans to plaintiffs who need money while waiting on a settlement. But many of these loans come with high interest rates, some as high as 150 percent.

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Transportation
3:05 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Map: St. Patty's Day Road Closure

Watch out – part of 4th Street will be closed this weekend for a St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
flickr.com/atmtx

Hopefully you're wearing green tomorrow – and not planning to drive along 4th Street.

All day on Sunday, West Fourth Street from Colorado to Lavaca is fully closed to car traffic for a St. Patrick's Day Festival. Fado's Irish Pub is hosting the festival, and attendees will enjoy music, food, some liquor and a lot of beer.

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Alamo Drafthouse
10:55 am
Fri March 15, 2013

What’s Up With the Alamo Drafthouse's New Menu?

The Alamo Drafthouse has changed their menu — and not everyone is happy about it.
flickr.com/chrisgallevo

The Alamo Drafthouse has a new menu. And critics are not abiding by the theater’s “no talking” rule. 

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Transportation
7:55 am
Fri March 15, 2013

MetroRail Sees Record Usage During SXSW 2013

MetroRail ridership for South by Southwest 2013 has topped ridership for last year's festival.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Capital Metro is reporting more record high ridership numbers from this year's South by Southwest Festival.

Capital Metro says boardings were up from last year by almost 7,000 on MetroRail for the first several days of SXSW. Capital Metro even had to operate an additional train after hours to carry more than 100 passengers still waiting on the platform. The trains on Saturday are starting at 10 a.m. – a few hours earlier than usual.

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Politics
2:35 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Equality Texas Lobbies Lawmakers at Capitol

Rep. Mary Gonzalez speaks to LGBTQ advocates at Equality Texas' lobby day on Monday.
Bobby Blanchard KUT News

Members and supports of Equality Texas, a lobbying group that advocates for LGBTQ rights in Texas, are spending their Monday lobbying at the state Capitol.

More than 20 anti-discrimination and pro-LGBTQ bills have been filed in the 83rd Legislative Session, and more than 500 advocates spent their Monday having “face-to-face” conversations with lawmakers about these bills and the rights they would guarantee.

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Politics
3:05 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Poll: More Texans Now Support Gay Marriage Than Oppose It

According to a new survey, more Texans support gay marriage than oppose it.
flickr.com/sigmaration

New data from Equality Texas, a lobbying organization that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ issues, shows there are now more Texans who support gay marriage than oppose it.

According to the new numbers, 47.9 percent of Texas voters polled support gay marriage and 47.5 percent are opposed to it. The support is up from a prior Equality Texas survey from 2010 that showed 42.7 percent of Texans supported gay marriage and 52.7 percent opposed it.

Chuck Smith, the executive director of Equality Texas, said this is the first survey that, to his knowledge, has found more Texans in support of gay marriage than against it.

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SXSW
1:40 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

A Stress & Scam-Free SXSW: Tips

Parking, towing, dropped signals and lost friends sully any SXSW.
flickr.com/redux

Parking woes, scammers, thievery and lost friends are all issues that can ruin a South by Southwest experience. The Austin Police Department, AAA Texas and Better Business Bureau of Central Texas are all offering tips on how to best avoid those pitfalls.

APD Commander Bill Manno says anytime there is a big event, parking can be a challenge. He said parking close to the festival has been labeled "event-parking" only—violators will be towed. He also said the Guadalupe neighborhood, which is the area between I-35 and the State Cemetery, will be closed to public parking this year.

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Austin City Council
7:09 am
Fri March 8, 2013

National Instruments Gets $1.7 Million to Expand (Update)

National Instruments

Update: The Austin City Council voted 7-0 Thursday night to give National Instruments almost $1.7 million in incentives. In exchange, the company will expand and create at least 1,000 jobs . 

National Instruments representatives spoke at the council meeting Thursday night, outlining the benefits the city would see. But some local citizens were not convinced, claiming it is not fair to give large companies incentives but to not offer them to local citizens. They also claimed the money could be used elsewhere, something Mayor Lee Leffingwell contested:

"The fact is, if we didn't approve this agreement we couldn't spend that money somewhere else because it wouldn't be there," Leffingwell said. "This money comes from that agreement."

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University of Texas
5:19 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Bill Gates Helps Open UT's New Computer Science Building

Bill Gates spoke at the opening of a computer center his foundation financed to the tune of $30 million.
Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Bill Gates – philanthropist, billionaire, entrepreneur and former chief executive of Microsoft – visited the University of Texas campus today to take part in the opening ceremonies of UT's new computer science building.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall – or GDC for short –  cost the university $120 million to build. The Gates Foundation donated $30 million to the project and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation donated $10 million. The new complex is 140,000 square feet and contains "research clusters" to encourage collaborative work.

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Geographic Representation
4:15 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

10-1 Review Panel Selected - And All Three Members Are Women

City Auditor Kenneth Mory looking for 10-1 volunteers last month. Today, the auditor randomly selected three CPAs to oversee redistricting commission applications.
City of Austin

Earlier today, Austin's City Auditor held a public drawing today to select the three accountants that will serve on the 10-1 Applicant Review Panel. The three accountants are Martha Parker, Michelle DeFrance and Carolyn Limaye – all women.

The review panel will select the 60 most qualified applicants for potential service on Austin's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. That's the group which will ultimately draw district lines for city council members. (Click here for an overview of the district-drawing process.)

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Health
1:00 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

UT is Now Smoke-Free - But How Will the Policy be Enforced?

UT-Austin is now officially smoke-free, with all 15 temporary smoking areas going away.
flickr.com/smorchon

The University of Texas at Austin is now officially, 100 percent smoke free. 

The policy takes full-effect today. But it started last year when the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas announced it would not fund research for any institution that allowed smoking on-site. In April, UT set up 15 temporary smoking locations. But those go away today.

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Arts and Culture
5:54 am
Fri March 1, 2013

New African-American Center Opens Today

City of Austin

Today is the grand opening of Austin’s new African-American Cultural and Heritage Facility. The center is housed in a historic structure at 912 East 11th Street. The Dedrick-Hamilton house was home to the family of one of the first freed slaves in Travis County.

The center was paid for with $1.5 million from the 2006 city bond, along with about $3 million in federal grants, according to the city.

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Education
4:30 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

'Save Texas Schools' March Heads to Capitol Saturday Morning

The group plans to march to the capitol on Saturday.
savetxschools.org/photo-gallery

"Save Texas Schools" will march to the Texas State Capitol tomorrow morning. The group hopes to encourage Texas lawmakers to support public education by restoring funding cut from Texas schools last legislative session.

The march will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Congress Avenue and Riverside Drive. The group will march north on Congress to the capitol.

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Education
12:10 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Friendships of Gay Men, Straight Women Examined in UT Study

A new study has found the reasoning for gay men and straight women's close friendship is because of a mutual trustworthiness regarding relationship advice.
flickr.com/mr-pi

While it is no secret gay men and straight women get along and form close friendships, a new study from the University of Texas has looked into why that might be.

Eric Russell, the lead author on the study called "Friends with Benefits, but Without the Sex: Straight Women and Gay Men Exchange Trustworthy Mating Advice", said the study found a possible source of straight women and gay men's friendship is their trust in each other's unbiased relationship and mating advice.

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Austin
7:02 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Map: Immigration March May Disrupt Traffic This Morning

The Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition will march to the Capitol today for what they call humane immigration reform.
Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition

Austin drivers can expect traffic delays later this morning because of an immigration reform march downtown.

The Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition is putting on what it calls the "first Texas statewide march in 2013 for Humane Immigration Reform." The coalition promotes human rights and economic justices for immigrants.

Partner organizations from El Paso, Dallas, Houston and other cities will be in attendance. According to a Facebook event, more than 400 people are coming to the march.

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Business
5:56 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Report Finds EU Trade Pact Would Bring Texas Billions

A U.S.-European trade agreement could increase imports and exports.
courtesy Port of Houston

The deputy head of mission of the British Embassy is in Austin this week trying to raise support for a free-trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union.

At the Texas Capitol today, the official, Phillip Barton, said he and the United Kingdom want to make sure the deal is as comprehensive as possible.

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Texas
5:53 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Preserving Texas: What's Saved, What's in Danger

Views of the Texas Capitol are on the "saved" list.
Erik Reyna/KUT News

Preservation Texas is out with its 10th annual list of the state’s most endangered places.

The list looks back on the past 10 years: six places that have been saved, three that are lost and three others that Preservation Texas says are in danger of being lost.

Among those saved were views of the Texas Capitol.

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Austin
1:29 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Austin YMCA Wants to Avoid Another Lifeguard Shortage

The YMCA is beginning the lifeguard hunt early this year.
flickr.com/atmtx/

The YMCA of Austin is trying to recruit lifeguards earlier this year.

In order to prevent last year’s shortage of lifeguards, the YMCA of Austin has expanded its schedule of YMCA and American Red Cross Lifeguarding Certification classes this spring.

Last summer, the YMCA hired 200 lifeguards. This summer, they're hoping to hire 250. But, YMCA spokesperson Sean Doles said the lifeguard shortage was not an issue just at the YMCA, but in the community as a whole—and even across the nation.

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Austin
11:14 am
Fri February 15, 2013

South Austin Neighbors Invited to Discuss Development

A meeting tomorrow will bring together neighbors for feedback on the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan.
flickr.com/austintexasgov

"Imagine Austin" is closer to becoming a reality.

Last June, the Austin City Council passed the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, which will guide city development for the next thirty years. The plan is to make Austin more connected and compact.

Now, people who live in South Austin are invited to weigh-in on how the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan is implemented.

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Education
9:00 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Bastrop ISD 'Welcomes' Look Into Discrimination Charges

Bastrop ISD Superintendent Steve Murray says the district embraces "the diverse nature of our district and see it as a strength and benefit to all involved."
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

In a letter to parents titled "BISD Welcomes OCR", Bastrop Independent School District Superintendent Steve Murray says his school district welcomes an investigation from the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The investigation is over allegations that Bastrop ISD has practiced "class-wide discrimination" against African-American and Hispanic employees and students.

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