Politics

Agenda Texas
4:49 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Why Haven't Austin's Floods Drawn Political Attention from State Leaders?

The American Red Cross hands out hot lunches to residents of the Onion Creek community. The neighborhood was devastated by torrential rains that fell on Oct. 31.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

When an explosion leveled the town of West, state and federal politicians descended on the town, alongside state and federal aid workers.

But so far, the deadly flooding in southeast Austin and Travis County has not received the same kind of attention.

So why the difference in response?

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Civic Life
7:59 am
Fri November 8, 2013

The Life of the Civic Party: Austin-Based Institute Works to Get People More Involved

Some people prefer to keep their distance from politics, the Capitol, and civic life. A conference this weekend is one of many efforts try and get people more comfortable with participating.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Voting in elections. Volunteering. Calling up elected officials. All ways to be civically involved. All things that Texans don't exactly do in large numbers.

A study earlier this year by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin found Texas ranks near the bottom on almost every aspect of civic engagement. The state's civic health is bad. The Institute is gathering people together Saturday, Nov. 9, to try to come up with some good medicine.

Institute Director Regina Lawrence talked with KUT's Jennifer Stayton before the conference about how to best get people off the civic sidelines and into the game:

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Affordable Care Act
2:00 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Texas Drafting Extra Requirements for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott renewed his call for more consumer protection and privacy requirements for Obamacare navigators this week.
Bob Daemmrich, flickr.com/thetexastribune

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has renewed his call for additional training and privacy requirements for “navigators” that help Texas consumers sign up for health insurance through the federally-run Affordable Care Act marketplace.

This week, Abbott wrote a letter to Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber asking her department to draft new privacy standards. In August, Abbott and 12 other attorneys general sent a letter citing privacy concerns to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

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LGBT
1:49 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Senate Approves Bill To Add Sexual Orientation To Work Protections

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 4:34 pm

The Senate has approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which gives workplace protections to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The bill would apply to any private employer that has more than 15 employees; it includes an exemption for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.

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Election 2013
7:23 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Texas Voters Approve All 9 State Constitutional Amendments

Proposition 6 creating a bank for state water infrastructure projects, attracted the most attention among constitutional amendments.

Texas voters approved all nine state constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

The issue that received the most attention was Proposition 6. It creates a new water fund with two billion dollars from the state’s Rainy Day fund.

Propositions 1 and 4 cut property taxes for disabled veterans or their surviving spouse.

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Politics
5:25 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Texas Supreme Court Weighs Same-Sex Divorce Cases

Two pending same-sex divorce cases are heading to the Texas Supreme Court. The combined oral arguments on these consolidated cases are scheduled for Nov. 5.
Morguefile

Update: Two same-sex divorce cases are now in the hands of the nine Texas Supreme Court justices to decide. Today they heard oral arguments on whether Texas can grant these couples a divorce. 

In 2005, a majority of Texans voted to ban gay marriage. But now, the Texas Supreme Court must decide whether litigation involving two gay couples who wed in Massachusetts – one based in Austin, the other in Dallas – can get divorced in Texas.

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Election
3:57 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Election Day Forecast: Voter Turnout, ID Law and Thunderstorms

Tomorrow is Election Day. Are you ready?
Photo by KUT News

Tomorrow is Election Day, and in addition to the much-publicized voter I.D. law, a weather forecast of thunderstorms tomorrow and recent flooding events could hurt voter turnout. Some voters have also expressed concern about the need to sign an affidavit if the name on their photo I.D. does not exactly match the name on their voter registration.

Some worry that the affidavit is one more hoop to jump through in order to get to the vote itself. Travis County Clerk, Dana Debeauvoir, told KUT News the voter I.D. law and affidavits may throw off some voters at the polls, which requires voters to initial next to their names as proof of identification.

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House Bill 2
10:02 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Texas Abortion Providers Ask Supreme Court to Intervene in Bid to Block New Rules

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, takes a photo with an abortion rights advocate after her filibuster against a restrictive abortion law in Texas.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Update: Plaintiffs in a lawsuit aiming to block new abortion regulations in Texas have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a lower court's injunction against portions of Texas' new abortion law. Read the entire emergency application here.

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Politics
7:06 am
Mon November 4, 2013

UT/TT Poll: Abbott's Lead Over Davis in Single Digits

How would you vote in a general election for governor with these candidates?
Todd Wiseman Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Texas governor, holds a single-digit lead over the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In a head-to-head race, Abbott got 40 percent of registered voters to Davis’ 34 percent, with 25 percent of the voters undecided. In a three-way general election, he would get 40 percent, Davis would get 35 percent and Libertarian Kathie Glass would get 5 percent.

“What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race,” said poll co-director Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Presidential history
7:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Interview: Pulitzer Prize Author Takes Close Look at Woodrow Wilson's Legacy

Woodrow Wilson and William Taft. Berg combed through hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives for this biography.
Putnam Books

One hundred years ago, a president took office who would set the course of the American century, end an era of isolationism, set the stage for the New Deal and eventually become one of the most controversial and fundamentally misunderstood figures ever to lead the nation.

A new biography corrects a lot of misconceptions about the 28th president, but perhaps more importantly humanizes and brings to life an important figure in the American narrative.

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Election
7:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Early Voting Underway: What Voters Need to Know for the Nov. 5 Election (Update)

The Travis County Clerk's office has launched a campaign, "Keep Calm and Vote On", to educate voters on the new voter ID law.
KeepCalmVoteOn.org

Updated Friday, November 1 at 7:37am: Early voting ends today for the Nov. 5 election.

There are 19 early voting locations in Travis County and several mobile locations.

What's On the Ballot:

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Politics
5:56 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

In Austin, Biden Announces Funding for Domestic Abuse Hotline

Vice President Joe Biden visited the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin on Oct. 30, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Vice President Joe Biden visited Austin today to announce that the underfunded 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline will be getting more dollars.

He helped create the hotline when the Violence Against Women Act that he sponsored in Congress was passed in 1994. 

Since 1996, "in most cases, the voice a woman in distress hears is yours -- the folks here in Austin, Texas," he told a small, packed room of activists, stakeholders and staff. "They're prisoners in plain sight. And the only voice so many of them hear is the people at the other end of the line here."

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Agenda Texas
11:16 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Abbott Would Limit State and Local Spending as Governor

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sep. 28, 2013. Abbott released his first major policy plan this week.
Callie Richmond, flickr.com/thetexastribune

The leading Republican in the race to be the next Texas Governor has released his first major policy plan of the campaign. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s “Working Texas” plan includes several proposals for restraining state and local government spending. 

Parts of the plan are a nod to proposals in Governor Rick Perry’s 2012 Texas Budget Compact. That includes linking the state’s constitutional spending cap to population growth and inflation instead of growth in personal incomes.

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Abortion Law Lawsuit
12:58 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

State Appeals Ruling Striking Down Part of Texas Abortion Law

Attorney General Greg Abbott greets supporters of House Bill 2, the state's new restrictive law on abortion.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed yesterday’s ruling striking down part of the state’s new restrictions on abortion.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics was unconstitutional. Judge Yeakel partially allowed another provision to stand, ruling a new requirement that doctors follow FDA protocol for dispensing abortion-inducing drugs was not an undue burden – unless the woman’s life was in danger due to the pregnancy.

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Abortion
4:15 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Federal Ruling In: Part of Texas' New Abortion Law is Unconstitutional

A Texas Capitol protest this summer. A federal judge blocked certain provisions of a restrictive Texas abortion law today.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: With a federal judge blocking enforcement of a key restriction on abortion in Texas, here’s reaction from Gov. Rick Perry:

“Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

NARAL Pro Choice America President Ilyse Hogue:

"We are pleased but not surprised by this development. It has been clear from day one that the laws advanced by Governor Perry and others are unconstitutional and put women at greater risk. We will continue to fight to ensure all parts of this law, and other laws restricting women's health care options, which are clearly unconstitutional are defeated."


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Voter ID
11:53 am
Mon October 28, 2013

New Voter ID Law Forces Governor Candidate Wendy Davis To Sign Affidavit To Vote

Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who's running for governor, greeted a voter on Monday morning in Fort Worth.
Shelley Kofler KERA News

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 10:55 am

Add gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis to the growing list of women who are having problems voting because of Texas' new photo ID law.

Davis, a Democratic state senator, was voting early in Fort Worth on Monday when poll workers made her sign an affidavit to verify her identity.

Why?

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Affordable Care Act
4:33 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Sebelius Vows to Fix Obamacare Site, Calls for Texas Medicaid Expansion

Central Health CEO Patricia Young Brown, left, and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell join Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a CommUnity Care clinic in Austin on Oct. 25, 2013.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

With all of the attention on the health care marketplace website problems, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Austin today for some damage control. 

Sebelius went to CommUnityCare’s East Austin Health Center, where she promised that problems with healthcare.gov and its Spanish-language version will get fixed.

She also praised mayors across Texas for supporting Medicaid expansion, and urged state leaders to join them.

"I’m hoping that Texas takes another look at that opportunity because there will be millions of people still left on the side of the road with no affordable options," Sebelius said.

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Government Shutdown
2:59 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Texas Vs. Utah: A Tale Of Two Government Shutdowners

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah (left), and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walk to the Senate floor on Oct. 16 to vote on a bill to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 3:01 pm

Two Tea Party-backed, defund-Obamacare-or-we'll-shut-down-the-government Senate leaders. Two very different outcomes.

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Politics
6:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

A Clash of Americas: Dan Balz' 'Collision 2012'

Dan Balz chronicled the the race for the 2012 presidency, interviewing candidates including Gov. Rick Perry.
Image courtesy of Google Books

Remembering the 2012 presidential election brings a slew of bipartisan memories – from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks to Obama’s pre-election comment to Russian president Dimitri Medvedev that he would deal with the EU’s missile defense system after his would-be election. Dan Balz’ chronicled the election and spoke first-hand with candidates for his latest book, "Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America." 

The book’s title reflects the clash between Democrats and Republicans – and between the 2008 election and the cutthroat 2012 Republican primary.

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Politics
4:39 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Perry Preaches Texas Prosperity in Israel

Perry, seen above on the campaign trail in 2011, was out promoting the business success of Texas in London and Israel this week.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry is nearing the end of a 10-day international economic opportunity tour with stops in London and Israel.

Perry took the opportunity to highlight the opening of a  Texas A & M University in Israel and looked to highlight Texas' financial successes, as well as recent resource and energy conservation solutions.

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