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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

After an epic filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul that lasted into the early morning hours, the Senate voted this afternoon to confirm the nomination of John Brennan as the country's next Central Intelligence Agency director.

As we reported, Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, stood on the floor of the Senate for nearly 13 hours, repeatedly asking for an explanation of the Obama administration's targeted killing program.

Update at 5:10 p.m. ET. Hagel Confirmed:

After an unprecedented filibuster by Republicans, the nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense prevailed, Tuesday afternoon.

With a vote of 58 to 41, the Senate acted mostly along party lines to confirm Hagel.

If Congress isn’t able to avoid the automatic $2.4 trillion budget cuts of sequestration, then border protection and legitimate border traffic could suffer.

"Certainly, without question. If on March 1 -- if sequestration does happen -- the Border Patrol will have reduced capability," said Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher testifying at a congressional hearing on border security on Tuesday.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning! After yesterday’s high winds – which had gusts above 50 miles an hour and lead to widespread power outages – today looks considerably calmer. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a sunny and mild day with a high in the mid 60s.

Lead Story: Big items were on the agenda at last night’s Austin school board meeting, including a multi-million-dollar bond proposal and the question of what to do with a struggling Austin high school.

Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

After more than a decade representing blood-red Texas in the U.S. Senate, John Cornyn finds himself in an unusual spot: burnishing his conservative credentials.

One would think the senior Texas senator’s reputation would be secure: Cornyn, who has ascended to minority whip, spent two election cycles as chairman of the Senate’s Republican campaign fundraising arm, and National Journal last week ranked him second in its 2012 list of the most conservative senators.

Photo courtesy of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

"The Sewer Mayor." It's a label Shirley Franklin wears with pride. She served as Mayor of Atlanta from 2002-2010 and says she worked hard to forge consensus on critical issues such as the city's water supply.

If the Chinese military is regularly hacking into the computers of U.S. organizations, as an American security firm says, it raises all sorts of questions about how the U.S. should respond.

Is this a job for the military or the intelligence agencies? What role should diplomats and trade officials be playing?

The report issued this week by the IT security consultancy Mandiant says it has traced the hacking activity to the People's Liberation Army's Unit 61398, which has "systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations."

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

Standing in front of first responders who he says could lose their jobs, President Obama pushed Tuesday for Congress to act now to avoid $85 billion in "automatic, severe budget cuts" set to kick in starting on March 1.

The cuts due because of the so-called sequestration "are not smart, they are not fair [and] they will hurt our economy," the president said.


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.

The White House has set up its latest online Fireside Hangout to focus on issues President Obama raised in his State of the Union Address this week. The live event is hosted by Google. The White House says he'll focus on jobs and other topics, such as early childhood education.


An event in Austin today aims to bring together Texas leaders in business, law enforcement and faith to talk about immigration.

In his State of Union address on Tuesday, President Obama set forth a sweeping vision for his second term, tackling not only monumental issues such as entitlement and tax reform but also everyday ones like raising the minimum wage and providing universal preschool.

Coming off an inaugural address that many saw as a powerful embrace of a liberal agenda, President Obama opened the speech with a nod to bipartisanship.

Not only might North Korea's third underground explosion of an atomic device be a sign that it is closer to having a weapon that's light enough to be put on a missile, it seems to be a not-so-subtle message aimed at the U.S.

A Smoking Gun report about the hacking of several email accounts belonging to members of presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush's family and some family friends has prompted a criminal investigation.

The Houston Chronicle says that Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath confirmed an investigation is under way, but declined further comment.