Politics

Affordable Care Act
11:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How to Find, Comment On Proposed Texas Rules for Health Insurance Navigators

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promoted the Affordable Care Act and federal health insurance exchanges in Austin on Aug. 8, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the proposed rules from the Texas Department of Insurance.

You may have heard the term navigators lately – they’re the volunteers who can help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

They go through an online federal training to learn how to help people navigate the federally-run marketplace, though they can't tell anyone which plan to buy. Earlier this year, a number of agencies in Texas received almost $11 million collectively to pay for their training.

Now the Texas Department of Insurance has written proposed state rules that would add 40 hours of training and require a background check for navigators.

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Gay Marriage
4:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New Mexico's High Court OKs Same-Sex Marriage

Gail Stockman, 60 (left), and Beth Black, 58, of Albuquerque, N.M., prepare to marry at a massive wedding in August, along with other same-sex couples.
Russell Contreras AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:22 pm

New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that same-sex marriage is legal, validating initiatives in several counties allowing the practice in the absence of a specific state law.

The ruling on Thursday means that New Mexico joins 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.

The Associated Press says:

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Voter ID Law
4:37 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Report: 'Lackadaisical' Texas Leadership Does Nothing to Encourage Voting

Jim Harrington (middle) argues against current voter registration procedures.
Roy Varney for KUT News

Texas' new voter ID  laws can be used to discourage minorities and women from voting. 

That's according to the nonprofit Texas Civil Rights Project. Today, it released a 63-page report criticizing the states' voter registration procedures, and a lack of voting registration opportunities.

Last June, the United States Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. The act was originally intended to protect voters from discrimination in voting matters, but the Supreme Court ruled that the application of the act, covering large parts of the South, was outdated.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas instituted a voter identification law. The law requires registered voters to present a valid form of identification to vote. The Texas Civil Rights Project would like to see the voter ID law overturned, because they say it can be used to deter minority populations from voting. 

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Politics
12:51 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Note to Texas Candidates: Female Voters Cast More Ballots Than Men

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte greeted female supporters on Nov. 26, 2013 at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Texas Democrats see themselves as having at least one potential advantage in next year’s statewide elections: two women at the top of the ticket.

Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and lieutenant governor hopeful Leticia van de Putte are hoping to attract more women voters to the polls.

But both Democrats and Republicans in Texas have particular challenges in courting the female vote.

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Lt. Gov. Primary
4:27 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

3 out of 4 Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: Teach Creationism in Texas Schools

From left to right: State Sen. Dan Patrick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.
State of Texas

The four major Republican candidates for Texas Lieutenant Governor met in the first televised debate of the race last night.

Current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst faced off against the men who want his job: Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, State Sen. Dan Patrick and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.

Three of those candidates spoke out in support of teaching creationism in Texas public schools – a move that would be unconstitutional.

The debate on Waco TV station KCEN focused on border security, the role of the Tea Party in Texas politics and education.

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Politics
2:55 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Is Sen. John Cornyn Conservative Enough For Texas?

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the Senate minority whip, questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius before the Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 6.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 3:07 pm

Being an incumbent ain't what it used to be.

Texan John Cornyn is the No. 2 man in Senate GOP leadership and by most measures holds high conservative ratings — according to National Journal's rankings, he was the second most conservative senator in the last Congress.

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Politics
2:38 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

6 Things Missing From The Budget Agreement

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk to announce a tentative agreement Tuesday between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:46 pm

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

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Health Care
8:11 am
Wed December 11, 2013

14,000 Texans Signed Up for Obamacare Plans

The Obama administration says technical tweaks to the health care website are making it easier for Americans to sign up for insurance.
healthcare.gov

Early technical issues with the new healthcare marketplace, HealthCare.gov, brought serious criticism to an already controversial government initiative. But a new report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services suggests that the tides may be turning for Obamacare.

By the end of November, coverage plan enrollment numbers for Texans had jumped to 14,000 – that’s up from 3,000 the month before.

And many more Texans are on their way to enrolling. According to the same report, nearly a quarter of a million Texans have applied for coverage and are waiting to choose a Marketplace plan. Those numbers are actually the second highest in the nation for states that are supported or fully run by a federal (rather than a state-implemented) healthcare Marketplace.

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D.A. Lehmberg Trial
4:12 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Lehmberg Civil Trial Underway (Update)

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, left, talks to attorney Dan Richards before the start of her civil trial Monday, Dec. 9.
Kelly West/MCT /Landov

Update: Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has been testifying since this morning in what is Day Two of her civil trial.

It’s been slow-going, stop and go with technicalities. Both the prosecution and the defense teams are very experienced attorneys, aware what’s at stake is the job of the highest-ranking prosecutor in Travis County.

Sometimes questions seem to repeat themselves, except for a word or two. The situation became so hard to process that visiting Judge David Peeples asked prosecutors at one point, “Can you come up with something new?” and “Are you going somewhere with this?”

When prosecutors responded they were, Judge Peeples replied “Well, get there.”

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Politics
2:48 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Philadelphia, on July 26, 2007.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:07 am

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

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Politics
7:47 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Steve Stockman Files to Run Against John Cornyn

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (left) filed to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (right)

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, has filed to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the March GOP primary, joining at least eight other hopefuls vying for the senior senator's seat, according to a spokesman with the Republican Party of Texas. 

Stockman, who had filed for re-election in Congressional District 36, had to withdraw from that race to seek Cornyn's seat.

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Governor's Race
10:11 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Wendy Davis Sees Legal Income Rise

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, greeting supporters at a phone bank in Austin.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Democrat Wendy Davis only makes $7,200 a year in salary as a state senator, but her take-home pay more than doubled between 2010 and 2012 thanks to steadily rising income from her private law practice, tax records show. 

Davis, who is running for Texas governor, provided her last three tax returns to The Texas Tribune late Tuesday. Her expected Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbottpreviously provided his last three returns.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Davis lists two attorney jobs on her résumé: She's a partner in her own firm, Newby Davis, and a lawyer “of counsel” to the much larger Cantey Hanger firm. Both are located in Fort Worth. 

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Affordable Care Act
11:52 am
Tue December 3, 2013

How Texas' Hands Off Approach to Obamacare Impacts Canceled Health Plans

U.S. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the Affordable Care Act in Austin on Aug. 8, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Carl Bergquist is on the hunt for health insurance. That’s because in September, the 43-year-old Austinite got a letter from his insurer, Aetna.

"It said that the Affordable Care Act is changing health insurance. And then it says it will affect your health insurance plan," Bergquist says. "It says your policy will end on December 31, you need to buy a new plan."

Bergquist’s plan didn’t meet the basic requirements of the Affordable Care Act. So he had two options. One, he could buy a new plan right now that’s identical to what he has now and pay the same price for one year. Or he could buy a plan that goes into effect in January that meets the ACA’s requirements.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:18 am
Tue December 3, 2013

How 2013 Became The Greatest Year In Gay Rights History

Several same-sex couples hold a group wedding ceremony Monday at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu.
Marco Garcia AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:59 am

Any day now, the New Mexico Supreme Court may grant same-sex couples the right to get married.

At this point, such a ruling may not seem like such a big deal. Prior to last year's elections, gays and lesbians had a civil right to marry in only six states. Now, they have it in 16.

"This year represented the true tipping point," says Eric Marcus, author of Making Gay History. "We've reached a moment in history where it's very difficult, if not impossible, to go back."

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Politics
7:38 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Texas, Video Games and the Military-Entertainment Complex

Credit Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Dwight Eisenhower famously warned about the military-industrial complex and it’s influence. Here, some 52 years later, the nation has a new, powerful influencer: what author Corey Mead calls the “military-entertainment complex”.

The phrase draws from WWII propaganda films, but presently “refers to the link between the military and video game industry,” Mead says. He's the author of "War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict." Listen to his interview with KUT's David Brown below:

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2014 Governor Race
5:30 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Where's Wendy? Texas Monthly's Paul Burka Weighs In on Davis Campaign

Wendy Davis made headlines earlier this year with her abortion rights filibuster heard around the nation. In September and October, she teased the Texas body politic with her gubernatorial guessing game.

After bursting into the race in early October with a big announcement in Fort Worth, the Davis campaign has hit the ground running, from Brownsville, to … Pharr, Texas?

So where’s Wendy Davis? That's what Paul Burka is asking.

The current dean of Texas political writers and senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, Burka sat down with KUT’s David Brown to discuss the Davis campaign. 

 

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Politics
2:23 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Should Texas Pay Power Companies Just For Opening New Plants?

The Public Utility Commission of Texas is proposing a change to the way the state’s electricity market is run. But some lawmakers have voiced concerns.
Jessie Wang for KUT News

The Public Utility Commission of Texas is proposing a change to the way the state’s electricity market is run. And some lawmakers voiced concerns during a public hearing at the Capitol yesterday.

The Texas Senate Natural Resources Committee hosted a hearing to question the Public Utility Commission, or PUC, about the possible change to the market.

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U.S./Iran Talks
2:00 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

What You Should Know About The Iran Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius react during a statement early Sunday in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 7:37 am

(This post was last updated at 4:40 p.m. ET.)

Just before the sun rose on Geneva on Sunday, international negotiators emerged to announce Iran and world powers had reached a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program for six months while the two sides work out a permanent, more sweeping solution.

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Texas Election 2014
1:20 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

Van de Putte Joins Race for Lieutenant Governor

Sen. Leticia van de Putte, D-San Antonio announces her candidacy for Lt. Governor at San Antonio College on November 23, 2013.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — Long rumored to be a contender, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte has now made it official: She is running for lieutenant governor.

"I want to be your lieutenant governor because Mama ain't happy — because Texas, we can do better," Van de Putte said Saturday in a fiery announcement speech in front of about 200 supporters at the San Antonio college gymnasium.

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JFK Assassination: 50 Years Later
2:51 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

How Live TV Helped America Mourn The Loss Of JFK

During JFK's funeral, live TV coverage helped make John-John Kennedy's salute an indelible image of American history.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 1:50 pm

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