Ryland Barton

Freelance producer for KUT News

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Education
12:53 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Texas Education Could Get Hit Hard by Federal Sequestration

Texas public education could lose $517 million in automatic cuts.
flickr.com/emagic

Texas classrooms could be hit hard by federal sequestration cuts – automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs that will go into effect on March 1 if Congress doesn’t pass a deficit reduction bill.

In Texas, the largest cuts would happen to public education, with $517 million dollars automatically cut according to the Texas Education Agency.

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Transportation
6:35 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Marble Falls Bridge to be Demolished with Explosives

fragility_v2/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/fragility_v2/

The Texas Department of Transportation has received approval to use explosives to demolish the 80-year-old U.S. 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls in March. Workers have already begun to take down streetlights, guardrails and parts of the bridge structure.

Kelli Reyna with TxDOT says that using explosives will speed up the process.

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Business
4:35 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

HeyRide Bought Out by San Francisco Rival

The ride-sharing app HeyRide is now part of SideCar.
courtesy Heyride

SideCar, a San Francisco company that uses smartphones to connect car owners with people who need a ride, has acquired HeyRide, an Austin company that tried to do the same thing.

HeyRide received a cease and desist order in November from the city of Austin. The city said the startup operated like a cab service but didn’t take the same safety and regulatory precautions.

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Politics
4:21 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Bill Introduced to Legalize Gay Marriage in Texas

Same-sex unions are gaining acceptance but not quickly in Texas.
Owen Parry/Texas Tribune

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, has filed a bill that would authorize same-sex marriage in Texas. The bill would also recognize civil unions made in other states.

An October 2012 UT /Texas Tribune poll found 69 percent of Texans support some form of recognition for same-sex relationships.

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Business
3:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Toyota Settles Its Recall Lawsuit with Texas

The suit involved whether Toyota did enough to notify drivers of dangerous defects.
courtesy flickr.com/danielctw

Toyota has settled with Texas and 29 other states that investigated the car company for dangerous defects that came to light in 2009.

The states investigated whether Toyota adequately disclosed that voluntary recalls included popular models like the Camry, Tundra and Prius.

Toyota is now required to enhance safety procedures, pay back customers, and pay $217,000 in attorneys’ fees for the state of Texas.

Hunger
5:53 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

More Austinites Looking for Food

The United Way says the number of people asking about food banks is up by half.
KUT News

Calls to the area’s health and human services hotline asking for information about food pantries were up 55 percent over the past year, according to a report released this week by United Way for Greater Austin.

The nonprofit group says the jump represents calls from people who can’t provide food for their families that day or within the week.

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Environment
6:44 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

State Parks Still Deep in Drought

One seventh of Texas' 91 state parks have closed boat ramps and fishing piers.
Photo by Daniel Reese/KUT News

Despite recent rains, Texas state parks continue to feel the effects of the ongoing drought. That’s according to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s executive director Carter Smith, who spoke today at the House Natural Resources Committee Meeting at the State Capitol. 

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business
7:27 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Dell Keeps Pushing for Buyout

Michael Dell is trying buy shares back at what some consider to be a meager price.
flickr.com/dellphotos

Round Rock-based Dell is defending its decision to go private, despite growing concerns from some major shareholders.

Dell issued a statement today reasserting that taking the computer maker private is the best move for the company. "In the course of its deliberations, the Special Committee of Dell’s Board considered an array of strategic alternatives," the statement reads. "The Board concluded that the proposed all-cash transaction is in the best interests of stockholders."

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Education
7:17 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Moody's: TX School Finance Ruling 'Credit Negative'

Texas' coveted Triple-A credit rating could be at risk
Texas Tribune

The Moody’s credit rating agency says last week’s Texas school finance ruling could have a negative effect on the state’s credit rating.  Last week, a state district court ruled that the present school finance system is unconstitutional, in part because it inadequately funds public schools.

Moody’s is not downgrading Texas’ coveted triple-A credit rating, but the report suggests that could all change if the state is forced to tap its reserves to overhaul the school finance system.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Bill Filings Down in 2013 Texas Legislature

The number of bills filed in the Texas legislature has dropped 27 percent in the 2013 session.
Liang Shi, KUT News

The 2013 Texas Legislature is running behind last session when it comes to bill filings, according to legislative reporting service Telicon.

The firm reports 476 fewer bills have been filed this legislative session, compared to this time in the 2011 session. The 27 percent drop is partially to blame on 2011 being a big year for ideological legislative filings, said UT government professor Jim Henson.

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austin
7:34 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Fire Marshal Cracks Down on Code Violations

Six buildings in North Austin were issued violations this week
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Travis County Fire Marshal is cracking down on buildings that violate the fire code. Last week the Fire Marshal’s office issued twelve violation notices for six buildings in North Austin. Each structure had been built without a permit and occupied prior to approval.

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Immigration
7:40 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Immigration Overhaul Good for Business?

The bipartisan proposal calls for a path to citizenship and increased border security
Flickr user Noah Jacquemin, bit.ly/127bpAP

Yesterday’s bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the immigration system has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle. In Texas, one question remains: is immigration good or bad for business? 

The proposal from eight U.S. Senators calls for increased border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.

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Texas
11:06 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Charges Dropped in Shooting at Lone Star College (Updated)

Texas Tribune

Update (Jan. 28, 11 a.m.): The Associated Press is reporting that prosecutors have dropped assault charges against a man injured in a shooting last week at Lone Star College.

Another man, 22 year-old Trey Foster, who was not injured in the incident is facing resisting arrest and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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Crime
7:14 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Former Nightclub Owners Sentenced to Federal Prison

The Yassine brothers owned several nightclubs in downtown Austin
Image courtesy yassineenterprises.com

Two of three brothers convicted in Austin of a federal money-laundering conspiracy have been sentenced.

Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison, while Hadi Yassine drew a 5 year prison term today. Prosecutors accused the two of using their nine downtown Austin bars to launder more than $200,000 in what they believed to be proceeds from drug trafficking.

Yassine Enterprises used to be Austin's biggest nightclub operator. Their portfolio of bars included Malaia, Treasure Island and Pure.

Immigration
4:51 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

City Kicks Off 'Welcome to Austin' Orientation Session

The City of Austin orients international newcomers with information sessions, language help and an "ambassador" program
KUT News

The City of Austin has started a new program to welcome foreigners moving to town.

The Welcome to Austin program provides language resources, offers local advice and teaches newcomers how to navigate the city's local schools, law enforcement and public transportation. Here's a look at the agenda.

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Guns
5:39 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Union Grove ISD Votes for Armed Teachers

Some staff members in Union Grove ISD will carry concealed handguns
KUT News

A small school district in East Texas became the second in the state to allow some staff members to carry concealed handguns. The school board at Union Grove ISD – just outside Longview – voted this week to allow trained staff members access firearms in the event of an armed intruder.

“It is up to the discretion of the local board," said Texas Education Agency spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe. "There’s a provision in the Texas Penal Code that basically says schools are a gun free zone unless the school board adopts a policy that permits it.”

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School Finance
5:04 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Industry Leader: Texas Businesses Can't Find Qualified Applicants

Businesses say jobs require training that prospects don't have
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond testified in the ongoing school finance trial yesterday, saying that Texas businesses can’t find applicants that have the academic and professional skills required. Hammond says that the most educated segment of Texas’ workforce is the soon-to-be retired.

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Guns
8:57 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Commisioners Court to Weigh in on Gun Shows (Update)

Gun shows take place about every month at the Travis County Exposition Center
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Update: The Travis County Commissioners scheduled to take action today on a controversial proposal to ban gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center and other county-owned facilities. 

Commissioners will take up the topic at 10 a.m.

Original Post (Jan. 7, 6:04 p.m.): There’s a gun show at the Travis County Exposition Center about once a month, but that may come to an end. On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners will consider a measure that would no longer allow gun shows on county land or at county facilities.

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Politics
7:38 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Texas Secessionists: Petition Response Should Be 'Torn to Pieces'

Secessionists from seven states filed petitions at WhiteHouse.gov
flickr.com/luna715

The White House has responded to a petition requesting the right for Texas to secede from the union. It was signed by more than 125,000 people.

The White House said that the Founding Fathers who created the Union “did not provide a right to walk away from it.”

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Guns
7:17 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Dewhurst Calls for Armed Teachers

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst asked Senators to explore arming teachers
Texas Tribune

In the wake of school shootings -- Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst says he wants government-funded weapons training for teachers.  Dewhurst is asking State Senators to explore such a program and provide recommendations.

"The training involved with the concealed handgun law license is not sufficient in my judgment to have that person trained for an event involving an active shooter," Dewhurst said.

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