Texas House

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State lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss the Texas drought and how extremely low Central Texas lake levels are hurting the economy. The Texas House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism heard testimony from Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber and the Central Texas Water Coalition . Both Commissioner Huber and the Coalition are seeking assistance from the state for the populations living and working around the lakes. They told lawmakers that funding and assistance is needed to support the impacted communities. Huber recounted stories she's heard from several Lake Travis business owners: "One gas station owner says he has shut 3 of his 4 gas stations. Another business owner who owns several business on the lake says he is raiding his kids' college funds for two years. My partners and I have cashed in every IRA we have tucked away. And we are running out of options."

Photo courtesy Jason Thompson via the Please BE KIND to Cyclists Facebook page

Texas State University Celebrates Move to the Sun Belt Conference Texas State University is holding a reception for students today to mark the upcoming move to the Sun Belt Conference. The reception will give students an opportunity to meet and visit with head coaches and athletic administrators to discuss the move. Texas State University President Denise Trauth announced yesterday that the university will join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013-2014 season. Right now, eleven schools participate in the Sun Belt Conference. Georgia State will also join the conference in 2013. Texas State and Georgia State will join Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky.

KUT News

Early Voting Begins Today Early voting begins today in the Austin city election. There are a total of 14 candidates running for four different positions, including mayor and three city council seats. You can find information on the candidates and their views on Austins pressing issues at kutnews.org. You can stream interviews with candidates for the Place 5 , Place 2 and Place 6 seats, and beginning today, interview with Austins mayoral candidates. The City of Austin has also put videos for the council candidates including those vying for mayor .

Image courtesy flickr.com/hapal

The Texas House Committee on Human Services will meet this morning to discuss how the state can best support the needs of the elderly. The nine person committee, which includes Austin Rep. Elliott Naishtat, will examine programs that help seniors and their families navigate the long-term care system, and programs that delay seniors from entering nursing homes. The committee will also explore ways of using volunteer initiatives to help seniors remain active and involved in their communities....

KUT News

Austin ISDs Preliminary Budget for 2012-2013 At tonights Austin ISD School Board meeting, administrators will present a 2012-13 preliminary budget that increases spending slightly while assuming the district will lose $8.7 million in federal money and $53.6 million in state funding. The Austin-American Statesman reports: The preliminary $724 million spending plan increases expenses 2.9 percent over the current budget and holds the property tax rate steady at $1.242 per $100 of valuation. It includes $14.2 million for an across-the-board 3 percent pay raise and $1.1 million to jump start an early childhood center at Linder Elementary School in Southeast Austin, among other goals. To hit those targets, budget officials say the district plans to dip into reserves for $32.5 million. Austin ISD will present a revised budget on April 16th and a public hearing is scheduled for April 23rd. The board will vote on the budget on June 18th.

Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune

Hearing on Droughts Effects on Tourism Texas lawmakers will hear testimony this morning on the effects of record-setting drought and wildfires on the states tourism industry. In December, Texas Parks and Wildlife announced that because of the heat and drought, state parks received fewer visitors. About 50 percent of the operating budget for state parks comes from visitor fees. At this mornings public hearing, the Texas House of Representatives Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee will...

KUT News

Senate Approves Sanctuary Cities Bill The Texas Senate has passed controversial immigration legislation. The so-called sanctuary cities bill would let law enforcement officers question people legally detained about their immigration status. The vote broke along party lines with all Senate Republicans voting for it and all Democrats against it.

The Texas Capitol
Picture by Erik Reyna for KUT News

State House member Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) says he has collected a enough signatures to force the Republican caucus to take a vote on who will be the next House Speaker . In a e-mail statement released this morning, Rep. Chisum says the party needs the caucus to meet to select "one conservative candidate" for Speaker of the House. "The voters of Texas have elected a strong overwhelming majority of Republicans to the Texas House of Representatives. We need to respond to the will of the voters...

Long hallway in the State Capitol
Photo by KUT

UPDATE: Today Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) withdrew his pledge for Straus. In a statement he said he made his decission after receiving a phone call from an unnamed lawmaker he says is on Straus's leadership team. "This member brought up the subject of redistricting and explained to me how that process would be used to punish those members not on Speaker Straus's list of supporters. More specifically, this member told me that maps were already being drawn to get rid of Representative-Elect...