Politics

Politics
3:43 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Senate Confirms John Kerry As Next Secretary Of State

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has been confirmed by the senate to become the next secretary of state.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 3:58 pm

The United States Senate voted today to confirm Sen. John Kerry as the next secretary of state.

Just five days ago, Kerry, a democratic senator from Massachusetts, testified before the committee he chaired. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reported at the time, the hearing was a love fest.

Kerry is decorated Vietnam war veteran and the son of a diplomat. He has served in the Senate since 1985.

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Immigration
3:18 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Obama: Immigration Debate Not Just Policy, 'It's About People'

A U.S. Border Patrol Agent in September 2011, along the Mexico-Arizona border.
Joshua Lott Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 2:35 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': Mara Liasson reports
  • On 'Morning Edition': Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Update at 3:06 p.m. ET. 'Now Is The Time':

Talking to an audience in Las Vegas, an upbeat President Obama said that "now is the time" for "common sense comprehensive immigration reform."

While Obama echoed the pillars of immigration reform presented by a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, he also made an emotional plea for reform.

"What makes somebody American," he said, "is not just blood or birth, but allegiance to our founding principles."

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Politics
1:12 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Keeping a Long-Distance Eye on the Legislature

Lege watchers outside of Austin rely on technology to keep in the Capitol loop.
KUT News

Story as heard on KUT 90.5

With the Texas Legislature in session, thousands of people will visit the capitol to talk with lawmakers and their staffs about bills being debated. But Texas is a giant state, and many Texans can’t make the trip to Austin.

Francis Curry is a member of the United Methodist Women. It’s a group that advocates for several legislative topics, including issues of faith and caring for low-income Texans.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
3:46 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Bill Would Allow Same-Sex Parents on Birth Certificates

Brian Stephens, left, and Andy Miller with their son, Clark, on Jan. 21, 2013, in Austin.
Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Andy Miller and Brian Stephens fell in love 12 years ago while they were training for a marathon on the trails around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. As they began talking about starting a family, they knew of only one same-sex couple who had successfully adopted.

“There weren’t a lot of role models,” Miller said. 

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Politics
3:15 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Lobbying Your Legislator? Here's How to Make Your Voice Heard

Are all voices equal under the dome? Citizen lobbyists may get further by personalizing their pitches.
KUT News

With the Texas Legislature back in Austin, lobbyists from across the state have descended to advocate for and against the thousands of bills that will be filed.

So what if you’re just a regular Texans with an opinion? Do lawmakers want to hear from you? Do they care what you think?

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Politics
1:25 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Agenda Texas: What Does 'Tax Relief' Mean?

Gov. Perry speaking to Texas House in January
Ben Philpott

Agenda Texas 01/25/13

Deciphering Tax Relief

Texas lawmakers are slowly cranking up the 83rd legislative session. A major focus so far has been how to spend billions of dollars in extra revenue. Gov. Rick Perry knows what should be done with that money.

“It’s time for us to take a hard look at providing tax relief,” he says.

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Immigration
9:28 am
Mon January 28, 2013

'Path To Citizenship' Part Of Senators' Bipartisan Immigration Plan

Air interdiction agent Jake Linde in 2010, on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 4:03 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: Jim Hawk reports

Saying their proposal would "secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system" and create "a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here," eight senators unveiled a "bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform."

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Politics
6:20 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Hemp Gets The Green Light In New Colorado Pot Measure

Hemp products for sale in Washington, D.C., in 2010. The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of hemp products, although growing hemp is illegal under federal law. Colorado recently passed a measure that legalizes growing hemp.
Tim Sloan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:13 am

With recreational marijuana now legal in Colorado, small-scale pot shops will open up soon in places like Denver and Boulder. But that's not the only business that could get a boost: Large-scale commercial farmers may also be in line to benefit.

Why? When Colorado voters legalized marijuana last November, they also legalized hemp.

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Politics
4:59 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Attorney General Abbott: Nearly 1,500 'Choose Life' Plates Sold

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and "Choose Life" Advisory Committee member Julie Stobbe at a Friday press conference.
Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Friday that his office has raised more than $30,000 from anti-abortion “Choose Life” license plates since sales began in late 2011.

A “Choose Life” advisory committee – appointed by Abbott and responsible for distributing the funds – joined him at the press conference.

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Politics
2:35 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Will Texas Reverse Decision, Provide Medicaid To 1.5 Million?

Shelley Kofler KERA News

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 7:45 pm

Governor Rick Perry is adamant, Texas will not make Medicaid available to more Texans by taking part in a federal program. But recently other Republican governors in Nevada and Arizona have changed their minds, saying they can’t ignore the billions of federal dollars they’d lose by opting out.

Lawmakers in Austin are now debating what Texas should do, including a senator from  Greenville who also wears a stethoscope.  

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Guns
6:37 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Sponsors Of Assault Weapons Ban Hope Newtown Shooting Changes Minds

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference Thursday announcing her plan to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 8:14 am

Congressional Democrats appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday to push for a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The bill's author, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, started her remarks with a roster of tragedy: "Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora. Tucson. Oak Creek. The common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semiautomatic assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition magazine."

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Politics
5:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Group Says It Can Turn Texas Blue

A Democratic group says it can make Texas more blue than red.
Flickr user Fifi LePew, bit.ly/YqObEH

Texas Democrats have been fighting an uphill battle against Republicans for years. The state has been firmly red since 2002. But a new Washington-based group, Battleground Texas, wants to invest tens of millions of dollars to turn Texas blue.

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Politics
5:10 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Water Plan Will Get Funded, but How Much Is Unclear

Ninety percent of Texas is in a drought as of this week.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says there’s no choice about funding the state’s water plan, but he’s less specific on how much to spend. Yesterday State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Abilene, supported a proposal to spend $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

Today, Dewhurst told KUT News’ political reporting partner the Texas Tribune that he doesn’t know how much to invest.

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Guns
2:48 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Democrats Unveil Bill To Ban Assault-Style Weapons

Semi-automatic assault-style rifles on display at a gun show in Chantilly, Va., in 2009.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 11:16 am

As they said they would following the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Democrats today unveiled legislation that would ban assault-style weapons.

The lead lawmaker, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, has summed up the legislation's key points this way:

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Politics
1:32 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

United Nations Launches Investigation Into U.S. Drone Program

President Obama's use of drones, and his direct involvement in who they target, has both U.S. and international communities questioning the administration's secret drone policy.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:43 pm

The United Nations' special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism launched an investigation Thursday into the United States' targeted killing program.

Ben Emmerson, from Britain, will lead the inquiry, which will focus on the civilian effect of the program as well, as the legal framework governing drone attacks.

Reuters explains:

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