Politics

Education
4:32 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Education Committee Clarifies Voucher Bill, Sends to Full Senate

Sen. Dan Patrick, who wrote SB 23. It now heads to the full Senate for a possible floor debate.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Senate Education Committee Thursday approved a bill from Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that creates a scholarship fund to help low-income students leave failing schools and attend private or religiously-affiliated schools.

The bill offers a 15 percent tax credit to businesses that donate money to the scholarship fund.

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Music
2:40 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

On Cuba Trip, Jay-Z Responds To Washington With Verse

U.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, right, tours Old Havana as a body guard, left, and tour guide, right, accompany them in Cuba on Thursday, April 4.
Ramon Espinosa AP

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 7:14 am

This week, Washington took on hip-hop royalty, when two Florida representatives went after Jay-Z and Beyonce for their recent trip to Cuba.

"We're saying that no one is above the law, even if you are the diva Beyoncé, and that's wonderful that she's famous and rich, and Jay-Z, everybody loves him, too. Terrific. But no one's above the law," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN.

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North Korea
9:21 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Will North Korea Claim Victory and Stand Down?

On Wednesday, a North Korean soldier looked on from the banks of the Yalu River on the border with China.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 7:21 am

As the world waits for what's expected to be another ballistic missile test by North Korea sometime in the next few days, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports there's reason to think that tensions on the Korean Peninsula might soon ease.

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Business
2:06 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Postal Service Will Keep Saturday Mail Delivery After All

A Chicago postal worker protests in support of Saturday mail delivery in February.
John Gress Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 1:50 pm

The U.S. Postal Service has backed off a plan to halt Saturday mail delivery, saying that Congress has forced it to continue the service despite massive cost overruns.

In a statement released Wednesday, the USPS Board of Governors said restrictive language included in the latest Continuing Resolution, which keeps the government operating until September in lieu of a budget, prevents it from going ahead with the plan.

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Gun Violence
10:21 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Background Checks to Gun Shows

The scene at a gun show in Alabama last month.
Joe Songer AL.COM /Landov

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 12:52 pm

We last updated this post at 1:50 p.m. ET:

Saying "this is a start and it's not the end of our work," Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia confirmed Wednesday morning that he and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have put together a bipartisan plan that they believe will "keep guns out of dangerous hands."

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2013 Legislative Session
6:19 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Bill Would Change DNA Testing Procedures in Death Penalty Cases (Updated)

A bill from Sen. Rodney Ellis would require the state to pay for DNA testing before capital punishment cases go to trial.
Veronica Zaragovia

Update: A Texas Senate committee passed a bill last night that would require DNA testing of evidence in cases involving the death penalty.

The proposal will now go to the full senate for a vote.

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Politics
7:21 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Former British Prime Minister Thatcher Dies

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1981. She died Monday, at the age of 87.
PA Photos /Landov

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 11:12 am

Margaret Thatcher, who as British prime minister in the 1980s became known as the "Iron Lady" for her tough economic policies, her partnership with President Reagan in standing up to communism and the short war with Argentina over the Falklands, has died.

Her spokesman, Lord Bell, tells the British Press Association that Baroness Thatcher died Monday following a stroke. She was 87.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
9:38 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Bill Would Limit Non-Transferable Tickets

HB 3041 would prohibit sellers and venues from restricting the resale of event tickets.
Todd Wiseman / Stephen Johnson, Texas Tribune

Professional sports and live events are big business in Texas, and a bill before state legislators today aims to ensure fans who buy tickets can resell them or give them away without interference from venues or ticket brokers. But opponents of the measure say it actually protects scalpers and the secondary ticket market — not consumers.

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North Korea
10:04 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Russia Calls On U.S., North Korea To Step Back From The Brink

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with top brass in a photo released by the state-run KCNA. The chart in the background reportedly reads "U.S. mainland strike plan".
KCNA Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 1:08 pm

Russia is urging the U.S. and North Korea to end an escalating cycle of dangerous provocations after Pyongyang put its missile forces on high alert and American stealth bombers flew practice bomb runs over the Korean Peninsula.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking Friday in Moscow, said the tit-for-tat moves were becoming a "vicious cycle" that could "simply get out of control," Reuters reports.

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Politics
7:06 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Could Spanish-Language Legislative Sites Boost Civic Engagement?

The Texas Senate has a Spanish-language website.
KUT News

In a U.S. Census Bureau survey of the nearly seven million Spanish speakers in Texas, almost three million speak English “less than very well.”

State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) has a bill that would translate Texas legislative information into Spanish in what he calls an effort to boost civic engagement.

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gay marriage
6:18 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Shift In Gay Marriage Support Mirrors A Changing America

Same-sex marriage advocates protest outside the county clerk's office in San Francisco on Feb. 14.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 7:42 am

When Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman recently reversed his stance on gay marriage after his son came out as gay, he joined a tidal wave of Americans who have altered their views on the subject.

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Guns
8:35 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

NRA-Driven Gun Provisions Pass Along With Spending Bill

Customers shop for guns at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store in Tinley Park, Ill., in January. One of the gun provisions in the spending bill prevents the Justice Department from requiring gun dealers to conduct an inventory to see if guns are lost or stolen.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 5:32 pm

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a temporary measure to keep the government funded through the end of September. Government shutdown averted.

But it turns out the continuing resolution didn't just address spending. It contains six measures that limit how federal agencies deal with guns.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

House OKs Bill Funding Government Through September

Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 4:02 pm

The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that avoids a federal shutdown and keeps the government open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which winds up Sept. 30. The Senate approved the same measure Wednesday, so the bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The New York Times characterizes the measure, which passed the House on a 318-109 vote, this way:

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2013 Legislative Session
1:32 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Lawmaker Pushes for More Funds to Address Domestic Violence

Thousands of postcards from Texans across the state in support of family violence programs funding made their way to lawmakers at the Capitol Wednesday. Purple is a color usually used for family violence awareness.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) wants to restore some state funding of domestic violence-related services.

Last legislative session, lawmakers cut funding for Batterer Intervention and Prevention Programs or "BIPP" in half. It went from $2.5 million to $1.25 million.

General funding for main domestic violence services like shelters is at about $51 million.

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2013 Legislative Session
1:18 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Bill Would Make DNA Testing Mandatory in Death Penalty Cases

Sen. Robert Duncan (L) and Sen. Ellis joined Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at a press conference on DNA testing in death penalty cases.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some officials in Texas – including Attorney General Greg Abbott – want to change how the state handles DNA evidence.

Abbott says he thinks testing on DNA evidence should happen before a death penalty case goes to trial.

"If you’re innocent, you’re going to find out that your exoneration will come sooner," Abbott said. "If you are guilty, justice will be more swift and more certain."

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Women's Health
8:20 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

North Dakota Bill Bans Abortions After Heartbeat Is Found

Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, talks to reporters at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on Friday.
James MacPherson AP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 5:55 pm

A week after the Arkansas legislature passed the strictest measure in the country on abortion, North Dakota's legislature passed a bill that goes further and would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected.

Arkansas' bill banned abortions after 12 weeks; North Dakota's could ban them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

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Politics
10:39 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Tribcast: The Next Bush

The Tribcast Crew
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

On this week's Tribcast, Evan Smith, Emily Ramshaw, Reeve Hamilton and Ben Philpott talk about George P. Bush's launch of his bid for land commissioner, the chances of Medicaid expansion in Texas, and the ongoing questions about the University of Texas Law School Foundation.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
3:19 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Lost Your Job? Bill Would Drug Test Some Texans Looking to Receive Unemployment Benefits

A proposed drug testing rule would apply to unemployed workers seeking jobs in industries that already require tests.
flickr.com/23748404@N00

Texas lawmakers looked at a bill today that would require some people to undergo drug testing in order to receive unemployment benefits.

The bill, filed by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), would require drug tests for unemployment applicants who are looking for work in industries that usually require them for new employees.

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Politics
8:25 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Challenging Work Standards for Texas Hotel Housekeepers

Some people in the hotel industry say the requirements outlined in the Texas bill would be bad for business.
flickr.com/bwalsh

Texas lawmakers are looking at a bill that would set new standards for hotel housekeeping workers. The bill’s author says the workers are not getting fair treatment, but some in the hotel industry disagree.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) says if Texas hotels can prove housekeepers earn minimum wage, she’ll drop her bill. But, she says, she’s skeptical they can.

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Politics
8:01 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Should Texas Use 'Rainy Day' Fund for Water Projects?

Ongoing drought has Texas lawmakers paying attention to the state's water needs.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Should Texas take money from the state’s so-called Rainy Day Fund for water projects? It’s an idea that will get a closer look today.

Lawmakers in the House Appropriations Committee are holding a public hearing this morning on the proposal. The bill would set aside $2 billion from the economic stabilization or "Rainy Day" fund for water projects.

The bill’s author – Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) – says prolonged statewide drought has revealed the importance of developing a dedicated source of revenue for the state’s water plan.

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