Legislature

Texas
11:14 am
Mon December 30, 2013

New Texas Law Protects Collateral Victims of Domestic Violence: Pets

The Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies say pets can also be victims of domestic violence.
flickr.com/tudor

The holidays are a time for gift-giving and celebration but, for some, it's also a time of increased family and financial pressure. Some mental health health professionals say this pressure can lead to a spike in domestic violence. 

In Texas, domestic violence victims who find the courage to leave an abusive situation can now have their pets included in protective orders.

Patt Nordyke of the Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies fought for eight years to pass the law in the Texas legislature.

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Education
7:36 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Bill Would Train Teachers to Spot Mental Illness

A lawmaker's initiative would address the problem of mentally ill students.
Erik Reyna, KUT News

A state lawmaker says Texas students are grappling with mental illness, but not all teachers, counselors and principals know how to recognize the signs. So the lawmaker, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, is backing a mental health bill that he says would encourage educators in more than 1,100 school districts to get the necessary training.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
5:53 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Hearing for Bill That Could Fell Austin's Heritage Tree Ordinance

The Legislature is considering making it harder for Austin to preserve its urban forest.
flickr.com/spoons

Another battle is brewing in the Texas Legislature over local control, this time over trees. The city of Austin’s ability to regulate heritage trees on private land may be in jeopardy.

House Bill 1377 received a hearing in the house Urban Affairs committee yesterday. Dubbed an "Austin bashing" bill by the City Council, HB 1377 would limit a city’s power to regulate and preserve trees by making a uniform law for all Texas cities to follow. 

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Environment
4:04 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Bill Would Hold Tire Haulers Accountable for Illegal Dumping

Tires are getting dumped illegally all over Texas, and the Legislature is considering action.
courtesy flickr.com/yelpar

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the TCEQ counted six illegal piles of tires in Travis County. In fact, the TCEQ has identified only one pile in Travis County with a tire count between 7,300 and 299,999. We regret the error. 

Original story: Next time you’re driving your car, look at all the tires around you. When those tires wear out, they have to go somewhere.

Every year, more than 24 million tires leave the roads in Texas. And many of them are dumped illegally. A proposal before the Legislature today aims to reduce that problem.

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Education
5:07 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Should School Ratings Take At-Risk Students Into Account?

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte wants schools with lots of former dropouts to get extra credit.
KUT News

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that less than 85 percent of the students in the class of 2010 graduated. At a hearing Thursday in the Texas Senate, lawmakers heard the case for better tracking students who end up back in school.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, a member of the Senate Public Education Committee, told members that even though high school graduation rates in Texas are improving, some schools aren’t getting credit for their part in those improvements. She was talking about schools that enroll dropouts and give students a high school diploma if they earn their credits and meet the requirements.

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Politics
5:22 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Legislature Talks Jobs for Vets

A Senate committee is looking at measures to help returning vets make the transition to civilian life.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

Unemployment among U.S. veterans fell in 2012 but is still higher than the rest of the workforce. Two bills dealing with vets and employment are before the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee. One would help veterans find work in Texas agencies; the other would ensure they could take time off from work.

Both bills are aimed at reintegrating veterans into civilian life and jobs.

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Politics
5:34 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Senate Passes Budget That Reverses Some 2011 Cuts

The Senate's budget bill includes more spending on education than the 2011 budget had.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate approved a budget for the next two years today, one that would restore some of the cuts from two years ago.

A balanced budget is the one thing the Texas Constitution requires lawmakers to pass when they meet in Austin every two years.

Much of the attention this session is on funding for public education, which lost about $4 billion in the budget passed in 2011.

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Politics
6:26 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Lawmakers, Public Debate Guns on Campus

Gun legislation drawing comments and criticism
Liang Shi, KUT News

Students, parents and police testified Thursday on four bills that would allow some people to carry guns onto college campuses in Texas.

People crammed into a room at the Capitol to testify before the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. One of the bills the committee is considering would allow anyone with a concealed handgun license to carry a weapon at a public university. 

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Politics
4:23 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Bag Ban Gets Pushback at Capitol

A state representative wants to bring plastic shopping bags back to Austin.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Five days into the Austin bag ban, a Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow stores and shoppers to use whatever kind of bags they want.

First-term State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, calls his bill the Shopping Bag Freedom Act, which he says would stop what he calls “the overreach of big government.”

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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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Education
7:15 am
Mon November 5, 2012

State College Funding Turns on Definition of 'Provide'

About 13 percent of UT's expenses are provided by the state.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

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Health
4:33 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Medicaid Woes Subject of House Committee Hearing

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

At a morning hearing on the implementation of Medicaid managed care in South Texas, lawmakers got a much bigger earful on the consequences of difficult budget decisions they made in the last legislative session.

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Texas
3:19 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Human Trafficking a Problem in Texas?

Lawmakers discussed new rules aiming to help stem human trafficking into Texas
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

The Texas Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Human Trafficking took testimony today from various state agencies on their efforts to combat human trafficking and to discuss what state lawmakers can do about it. 

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Politics
4:53 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Will Texas Primaries Be Pushed Back Again?

The latest news in the Texas redistricting fracas is that agreement on a map may not come in time for April primaries.
Voting images by KUT News; Texas Capitol by Lizzie Chen for KUT News; Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

It looks like the April 3 date for Texas primaries – already pushed back from March – may get shoved back again.

The Associated Press reports one of the parties in the redistricting lawsuit that has delayed the primaries, Luis Vera, representing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) says negotiations have stalled, and doesn’t anticipate talks between the state and the parties that sued to block the state’s redrawn map will be concluded in time.

The parties were given until February 6 to settle on redrawn districts, in time to preserve the April 3 primary. The groups are gathered at a conference in San Antonio in an attempt to hash out differences.

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Politics
1:59 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

What’s Happening With Texas Redistricting?

Separate from the Supreme Court's recent decision, a federal court will decide on the constitutionality of Texas redistricting.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

With a flurry of legal actions surrounding Texas redistricting efforts, it's easy to get a little confused.

The confusion, in part, can be blamed on the different courts in play, each playing a part in the battle over the districts redrawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011.

Late last week, the Supreme Court threw out re-redrawn district maps drafted by a San Antonio district court. The San Antonio court claimed the Legislature’s new districts deprived minority voters of the right to equitable representation; the Supreme Court held that while there might be such problems with the Legislature’s maps, the San Antonio court should use the Legislature’s map as a blueprint for further revision, instead of drafting their own. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has since called for the San Antonio court to conclude their work quickly.

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