Maurice Chammah, Texas Tribune

Texas
11:25 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Proposed Tax Break for Clubs Isn't Music to Some Ears

Lindsey Sunflower serves drinks at The Parish, a popular music venue in Austin, Texas. State Rep. Mark Strama is pursuing a bill that would cut the tax on mixed beverages charged to bars if they prove they are using the savings to present live music.
Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

Although the crowd of clubs and concert halls on Austin’s famous Sixth Street is just a few blocks from the state Capitol, the worlds of live music and policymaking seldom meet.

But this session, lawmakers are considering subsidizing live music.

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Texas
4:58 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Court of Inquiry Ends With Arrest Warrant for Anderson

Judge Ken Anderson, l, sits at the defense table as the court of inquiry begins in Georgetown on April 19, 2013.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — A judge issued an arrest warrant for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson Friday, after finding probable cause to believe Anderson withheld critical evidence in Michael Morton's 1987 murder trial. 

Judge Louis Sturns concluded his court of inquiry by charging Anderson, who is now a state district judge, with tampering with government records (a misdemeanor), tampering with physical evidence (a felony) and failing to comply with a judge's order to turn over such evidence, for which he could be held in “contempt of court.”

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Texas
1:10 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Bill Would Restrict Use of Cell Phone Records by Police

Austin Police detectives regularly use cell phone records to track the locations of suspects.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

Seeking to regulate the use of cell phone records in investigations by law enforcement, Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would force police and prosecutors to get a warrant before obtaining such records.

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Politics
7:18 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Variety of Gun-Related Bills on Table for Session

Texas Tribune

While December's fatal shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school led the Obama administration to re-examine federal gun laws, Texas lawmakers have been hard at work on gun-related legislation since November, when they were first able to file bills for the 83rd legislative session. Most of those bills aim to widen rather than restrict access to guns.

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Texas
12:54 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

White House Responds to Texas Secession Petition

A coalition of Tea Party groups rally against President Obama on Jan. 16, 2009, at the Texas Capitol.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Responding to petitions from Texas and seven other states calling for the right to secede, the White House called for healthy debate, but to not let "that debate tear us apart."

"In a nation of 300 million people — each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs — democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing," wrote Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement, in a statement called "Our States Remain United." "Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted."

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Texas
10:59 am
Wed January 2, 2013

They Weren't in the Running, but They Still Won Votes

Todd Wiseman / Gage Skidmore / Bob Jagendorf for Texas Tribune

When 11 Travis County voters scribbled in "Mickey Mouse" for president on their ballots in November, the cartoon character didn't get any closer to becoming the first animated leader of the most powerful nation in the world. After all, counties don't count write-in votes for uncertified candidates.

In every presidential election, hundreds of names are written in by voters who choose not to vote for a major candidate. Among those names is a trove of living and deceased politicians, fictional characters and popular personalities. That trend continued in Texas in 2012.

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Guns
12:55 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Villalba: Allow Teachers to Carry Concealed Guns

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In response to last week's Connecticut school shooting, state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, says he will file legislation to allow public school teachers to carry concealed weapons while on campus.

The bill, which Villalba is calling the Protection of Texas Children Act, would permit Texas schools to appoint a member of their faculty as a "school marshal." The marshal, with training and certification, would be able to "use lethal force upon the occurrence of an attack in the classroom or elsewhere on campus," according to a press release from Villalba's office. 

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Criminal Justice
12:15 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Report: Adjust Policy on Who Gets Sent to State Jails

Nick Cowie for Texas Tribune

A new report argues that state jails aren't meeting their goal of helping to reduce crime by intensively treating short-term, nonviolent inmates, and it recommends that judges no longer be able to sentence felons to state jails without a rehabilitation plan.

The report, published Monday by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, says that those convicted of nonviolent felonies and normally sentenced to months in a state-operated jail should instead be released with community supervision. That can include treatment programs, community service, strictly enforced probation conditions and the threat of incarceration if certain conditions are violated. The report's suggestions were based on recent data concerning the number of felons who commit crimes after being released from state jails.

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Texas
2:43 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Willingham's Family Seeks "Posthumous Pardon"

Patricia Willingham Cox, Willingham's cousin, Eugenia Willingham, stepmother, and Judy Cavnar, cousin, are seeking to clear the name of Cameron Todd WIllingham from a 1991 arson case for which he was executed in 2004.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

The surviving relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday after sending an application to clear his name, 12 years after his execution for a 1991 fire that killed his three young children.

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