Jessica Mahoney


4:15 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

State Considers Taxing Jet Fuel and Bottled Water

Under current Texas law, jet fuel is exempt from the motor fuel tax.
Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News.

Texas raked in 9.4 percent more in sales tax this year than it did last year, but state officials don't expect that growth to continue in 2012. So they're looking at other ways to find more money.

One way is to tax things that are currently exempt from taxation. At a public hearing at the Capitol today, two items attracted the most attention: bottled water and jet fuel.

Under the current Texas law, bottled water is exempt from sales tax. A bill proposed by the House Committee last May had an amendment to change that, but the legislation was never adopted.

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border security
3:04 pm
Mon September 26, 2011

Generals' Report Calls for Tighter Border Security

Retired Major General Robert Scales speaks to reporters about a border security report he co-authored with retired General Barry McCaffrey (right). U.S. Rep Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Ag Commissioner Todd Staples (left) also spoke at the news conference
Photo by Jessica Mahoney for KUT News.

A report released today by two retired generals highlights what they see as federal negligence toward drug cartel violence on American soil. The report was jointly commissioned by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Public Safety. retired Army Major General Robert Scales, one of the co-authors, calls federal resources "anemic."

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News Brief
7:39 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Top Morning Stories September 26, 2011

Texas A&M has officially left the Big 12. On Sunday the SEC announced A&M would join the conference beginning in fall 2012.
Photo courtesy of

Tar Sand Pipeline Hearings

The U.S. Department of State will hold the first two of nine public hearings today to discuss the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This afternoon there will be a hearing in Port Arthur from 4:30 - 10:00 p.m.  More information on the pipeline can be found here.

Texas A&M Officially Joins SEC

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3:00 pm
Fri September 23, 2011

Fixing Leaky Toilets to Conserve Water

An Austin plumbing company wants to save the city 3-million gallons of water every month, one toilet flapper at a time.
Photo by KUT News.

An Austin-based plumbing company is taking on an ambitious job to battle the ongoing drought. Radiant Plumbing says it can save the city three million gallons of water per month. It plans on doing this by replacing one thousand leaky toilet flappers for free. Sarah Casebier is one of Radiant Plumbing's co-owners.

“If we wanted to do something that makes a difference, there’s not a lot of things that a plumber can do," she told KUT News. "But this is something we can do.”

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4:19 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Austin Auditor Reports on WTP 4 Stoppage Cost

The Austin City Auditor reported on how it viewed projected costs to stop building Water Treatment Plant 4
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The city of Austin received an estimate of the costs of halting construction of Austin’s Water Treatment plant four last month. Today, the City Auditor's office presented its impression of those numbers.

Council Member Bill  Spelman questioned Russell Needler with the Auditor's office.

"And it’s my understanding that in all cases you found that the costs developed in the report were necessary all those things that they’re talking about having to happen would in fact have to happen. Is that accurate?" Spelman asked

Needler responded, "Yes.”

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8:16 am
Wed September 7, 2011

How Central Texans Can Donate

The wildfires in Central Texas, like this one in Bastrop County, have forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Many organizations are accepting monetary and material donations to help the victims.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT/Reporting Texas

Many spared from the worst of the wildfires are left wondering what can be done to help the victims. There are numerous aid organizations, churches, and community centers that are accepting both monetary and material donations. Here are a few places:

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3:39 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Evacaution for Endangered Species Not Yet Necessary

Low water levels--like at McKinney Falls State Park earlier this summer--are causing problems for Central Texas endangered species. But any evacuation of the protected wildlife is still a ways off.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The ongoing drought has been hurting Central Texas endangered species. Threatened salamanders, beetles, fish and other animals may be evacuated from the San Marcos River and Comal Springs. But that wouldn't happen until at least next year, if it happens at all.

Bill Seawell is a biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Austin. He says the evacuations have happened before, in 1989 and again in 1996, and they're hoping they don't have to do it again.

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Human Rights Conference
2:42 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

International Human Rights Conference Held in Austin

Human Rights agencies from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are meeting in Austin through Wednesday.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Human Rights agencies from across North America are in Austin this week. The International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies conference is focusing on workplace discrimination. John Schmelzer of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission spoke this morning. He says that the EEOC has more cases than ever, but the types of cases have changed over time. 

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