Rhonda Fanning

Producer, The Texas Standard

Rhonda  joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

John Morgan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Reform of the Texas foster care system has been an elusive goal for state lawmakers. A federal judge ruled the system unconstitutional and "broken" two years ago. One proposal that has received support in the current legislative session would have the state contract with religious organizations and other non-profits to provide care for foster children. But the idea has received pushback from some of the religious groups themselves.

 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Legislature’s two houses have about nine weeks to approve a balanced two-year budget. But disagreement over accounting “gimmickry” is dividing lawmakers in the House and Senate. The Senate finance committee approved a $107 billion budget, but House Speaker Joe Straus says that the senators relied on questionable accounting practices to avoid tapping into the state’s rainy day fund, a savings account funded mainly by oil and gas tax revenue.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A House vote on the American Health Care Act – the GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare – is slated for Thursday. But some conservatives are wary – they worry the bill will leave too many people uninsured. Others say it doesn't go far enough in repealing the original law.

 

From Texas Standard:

With flights to Washington D.C. canceled because of a blizzard, Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd – both members of Congress from Texas – needed a way to get back to the nation’s capital. So they rented a car and set out, taking Facebook viewers along for the ride.

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From Texas Standard:

For victims of sexual assault, collecting and testing a rape kit can mean the difference between solving a crime and allowing a perpetrator go free. In Texas, as in other states, rape kits are often collected but never tested because funds are not available. One lawmaker wants to give citizens the opportunity to contribute to a solution.

From Texas Standard:

When the Texas Legislature passed the Woman’s Right to Know Act, abortion rights advocates decried what they saw as a paternalistic attitude on the part of majority-male sponsors of the law. The law requires patients seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours before the procedure and to be informed of potential medical risks. It also tightly regulates where abortions can be performed. 

This session, at least one legislator has decided to fight fire with ... irony?

Jennifer Martin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Enforcing laws that make possession of small amounts of marijuana a criminal offense are costing taxpayers a lot of money, with little benefit in return. That’s the argument made by State Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs). The bill he co-sponsored with Democrat Joe Moody of El Paso would reduce penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a $250 civil fine.

 

On what House Bill 81 does:

KUT

From Texas Standard:

After less then two months in office, the Trump administration can point to at least one statistic that may indicate the president is succeeding in his goal of stemming the tide immigration. From January to February, apprehensions at the Mexican border with the U.S. decreased by 40 percent.

 

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From Texas Standard:

The greatly anticipated Republican legislation to alter the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health care law better known as Obamacare, has finally been revealed.

 

J.A. de Roo / Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard:

Early Monday morning, in the country’s latest display of aggression toward the West, North Korea fired four intermediate range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. Three missiles landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, leading Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call North Korea’s actions a clear violation of several UN Security Council resolutions.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Both houses of the Texas Legislature have unanimously approved an overhaul of how the state cares for its most vulnerable kids. It's a sign they're moving quickly to address what a federal judge deemed a "broken" foster care system.

Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard:

He didn’t say the word "Texas" – but the Lone Star State was woven throughout President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress. From a hint at a shift in immigration policy to a border wall to increased military spending and beyond.

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with two Texas congressmen: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) to gauge their reactions to Tuesday’s speech.

Rogi.Official/Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard:

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed Monday that it no longer intends to argue Texas' voter ID law intentionally discriminates against minorities. The DOJ had opposed the law on those grounds during the Obama administration.

Bob Jagendorf/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

In an unprecedented case, a federal judge ruled Monday that a private prison company can be sued under federal laws prohibiting what amounts to slave labor.

 

From Texas Standard:

State lawmakers have less money to spend this Legislative session and are in the tough position of having to make cuts to state agencies and public universities. Many lawmakers have blamed the budget shortfall on low oil and gas prices.

Konni Burton/Facebook

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump said in a meeting Tuesday that he would “destroy” the career of a Texas state senator who was pushing for legislation to change current civil asset forfeiture laws in the state.

Trump was meeting with sheriffs from around the country when Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson commented that an unnamed senator was seeking to require a person to be convicted of a crime before the state could seize any of their assets.

Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

A special report by the Austin-American Statesman found that teachers who engage in improper relationships or who may solicit sex with students are not always punished for doing so.

The Statesman’s Julie Chang looked at 686 cases between 2010 and 2017 where public school teachers allegedly participated in flirtatious text messages, kissing, sexual relationships and other banned relations with a student within their school district.

Ken Lund/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority countries on Jan. 27. The word came late that Friday, sparking confusion among travelers, visa holders, airlines and government officials. Questions arose over who exactly was affected and how the ban would be implemented.

But before those issues can be fully worked out, a legal battle over the executive order is adding to all the confusion. Trump’s executive order is temporarily blocked nationwide as of this past Friday, Feb. 3.

Screenshot via c-span.org

This week, Iran's defense minister confirmed the country had tested a new ballistic missile. Iran has said the weapons test did not violate a deal with the United States aimed at keeping nuclear ambitions in check.

U.S Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump signed a multitude of executive orders last week. One directive blocked Syrian refugees from coming to the United States indefinitely; banned anyone from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days; and put a 120-day suspension on all refugee admissions.

Trump also signed an order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council’s principals committee, while demoting the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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