Texas

News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The military training exercise called “Operation Jade Helm 15” starts today just outside of Bastrop. While military exercises and war games happen all the time, this one gained a lot of attention after conspiracy theorists started suggesting it was part of a plan to takeover Texas and institute martial law.

Those voices grew so loud that Gov. Greg Abbott even decided to assign the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation.  But, despite a contentious town hall meeting, many in Bastrop say they’re not worried about the exercise.

From Texas Standard.

The Texas Legislature officially named Dripping Springs the “Wedding Capital of Texas” this spring. Chances are good that when Texas lawmakers cast their votes for the designation they probably weren’t contemplating the Supreme Court docket. So how is the big wedding industry in the small city of Dripping Springs adjusting?

Kim Hanks owns Whim Hospitality and the wedding venue Camp Lucy. She’s been serving couples in the area for more than a decade.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

We don’t often hear about the Medicaid 1115 waiver in Texas, but this waiver gives Texas billions of federal dollars to provide some pretty expensive care.

This waiver expires in 2016, though. Texas is in the process of asking the federal government to extend and renew the money, but that renewal isn't guaranteed.

Google Maps

This evening, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will meet with the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade.

This meeting has been months in the making. Texas and Mexico put so much effort into their relationship, and not just because they’re geographically close. Between exports and imports, the amount of money that crosses the Mexico-Texas border is nearly $1 billion a day.

The total traded between the two in 2014 was $336 billion, according to the U.S.-Mexico trade report from the Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. [Read a pdf of the report here.]

weaverphoto/flickr

From Texas Standard:

An iconic Texas burger chain has found itself in the crosshairs of gun politics in the months leading up to a state law change set to take effect allowing open carry of handguns.

Preston Atkinson, President and CEO of Whataburger, released a statement this week, saying that, “Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights, but we haven’t allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time, although we have not prohibited licensed concealed carry.”

Hall is Asked to Leave Closed-Door UT Regents Meeting

Jul 8, 2015
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall on Wednesday was asked to leave the closed-door portion of a regents meeting in which his lawsuit against UT System Chancellor William McRaven was being discussed.

Not long after that executive session, regents reconvened and voted to urge Hall to drop his lawsuit, saying it “carries the potential to be costly and an unnecessary distraction.”

Hall left the meeting without responding, saying to reporters that he was frustrated to be left out of the closed-door session.

“I don’t think it is appropriate,” he said as he left the building.

tabor-roeder/flickr

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court just wrapped up a momentous term. Last month alone brought decisions on upholding the Texas ban on confederate license plates, provisions of the Affordable Care Act (or as Justice Scalia likes to call it “SCOTUS-care”), and then that little matter of same-sex marriage.

But now that the court is in recess we can calmly reflect on a few things at least. Whatever happened to that 5-4 conservative court? And what’s going to happen in a few months when the 2015 term gets underway? NPR’s Nina Totenberg discussed it all with the Texas Standard.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Have you ever had to reinvent your career? For some people, later-in-life career reinvention isn't an option — it's an essential survival tool.

More seniors are working now than ever before, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the next seven years will only bring those numbers up. By 2022, the Bureau estimates 1 of every 3 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 will still be employed — but not necessarily in the same line of work they worked in before.

One Austinite who falls within that age range has reinvented her career – four times.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Most drownings are among those "preventable" tragedies. And yet, not everyone knows which precautions to take to prevent such accidents. In Texas alone, 73 kids died last year in the water. And adults are just as vulnerable. So, here are 3 tips to make your water gatherings more enjoyable.

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

Tuesday would have been the last day of operation for 10 clinics in Texas that provide abortion services. But on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of its final actions of this session, said the clinics can remain open while clinic lawyers ask the court for a full review of a strict abortion law.

Two dozen states have passed regulations similar to the ones being fought over in Texas.

Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

UPDATE Monday 1 p.m. A Texas State Senator is asking the Department of Justice to monitor and intervene, if necessary, in Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

The request comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion yesterday, saying some government officials could refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if they object on religious grounds.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

The first same-sex couple to get to the Travis County Clerk’s Office on Friday, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, was legally married over the weekend.

At their ceremony on Saturday, Lupe Garcia and Cindy Stocking seemed calm, as though they’d stood at the altar together before with Reverend Karen Thompson, but they were getting married for the first time.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

After the Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some county clerks around the U.S. began issuing licenses right away, including Travis County in Texas. Other counties held out, though, citing a need for updated forms that incorporated the new rule.

Those forms had been distributed by Monday, so more counties opened up marriage licenses to both same- and different-sex couples Monday morning. This is despite a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the Supreme Court's decision "lawless" and said that Texas county clerks could opt-out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples if it violates the clerk's religious beliefs. They'd still face lawsuits if they did so, he said, but the state would provide pro bono representation in those cases.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

One month ago, the Memorial Day Floods devastated many communities here in Central Texas, and today, the rebuilding continues.

How much officials can do is still limited, though, because the water hasn’t fully receded.

Local agencies are still searching for two children who went missing when the Blanco River flooded. The problem is that the water hasn’t receded enough to enable search teams to access all the areas.

KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the health insurance tax subsides in the case of King v. Burwell.

After much anticipation, the High Court ruled 6-3 this morning that people who received tax subsidies for health insurance premiums purchased on the federal exchange can keep them.

At issue in the case was whether four words in a section of the Affordable Care Act that deals with tax subsidies — "established by the state" — meant that only people who bought an Obamacare plan on a marketplace established by a state government can get a tax subsidy to help them pay for it. 

Pages