Austin
8:21 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Top Morning Stories 1/13/12

Public Speaks out on Energy Rate Hikes

More than a hundred people signed up to speak last night at the Austin City Council public hearing on a proposed electricity rate change. This is Austin Energy's first rate increase in 17 years, but some consumer groups say the rate hike is flawed.

KUT's Erika Aguilar reported on the potential impacts to residents and churches, which are classified as small businesses. A second hearing is scheduled for February 2nd.

Texas Responds to Justice Department

Secretary of State Hope Andrade's office submitted a Spanish-surnamed voter count Thursday. This was in response to the Justice Department's request for data on the racial breakdown and counties of residence of the estimated 605,500 registered voters who lack state-issued IDs. The Justice Department is considering whether to approve a Texas law requiring voters to show photo identification.

Texas hasn't required voters to state their ethnicity when registering to vote since the mid-1960s. So, ethnic breakdowns assembled by the Texas Department of Public Safety and other state agencies were submitted instead.

Tejano Monument Groundbreaking at the Capitol

A Tejano monument groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday January 13th at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol. According to the Austin American-Statesman, organizers say the statue will be the largest at any state capitol in the country.

The monument, which commemorates the contributions of Texas' early Spanish and Mexican settlers and their descendants, is scheduled for unveiling March 29. Supporters who led a 10-year campaign for recognition of Tejanohistory say the monument fills gaps in traditional historical accounts of the story of Texas.

Created by Laredo sculptor ArmandoHinojosa, the statuary will be mounted on more than 250 tons of granite. The base alone is 35 feet wide and 8 feet tall at its highest point, and the statues depicting early settlers, livestock and the ranching experience are life-size, said Jaime Beaman, the architect on the project.

The artist is expected to attend today's event, along with Tejano board members and State Rep. Richard Pena Raymond, D-Laredo.

New Executive Director To Lead Front Steps

A new Executive Director will lead Front Steps, the nonprofit that runs the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. Stephen Luteran, LCSW, brings 25 years of social service and executive leadership experience to the position. Most recently he served as Executive Director of Catholic Charities in Virginia. Luteran begins his new post on January 19th.