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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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."

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.