Texas

2014 Elections
8:26 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Ahead of Election Day, the Campaign for Online Voter Registration Continues

Texas lawmakers have been pushing to bring voter registration online for the better part of a decade, and could renew their efforts this legislative session.
Credit Photo courtesy flickr.com/sarowen

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 local, state and federal elections.

More than a decade ago, around 80 percent of the state's voting age population registered to vote, but now that's closer to 70 percent.

While some argue online voter registration could boost turnout, others worry about the security risks and the chance to give the “other” party a leg up at the ballots.

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HB2
4:43 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Lawyers for Texas Abortion Providers Expect SCOTUS to Hear Case

Abortion rights advocates plan to take their efforts against abortion restrictions in Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

As of today, Texas women have less access to abortion, after a federal court decision yesterday lets restrictions on clinics go into effect. Abortion rights advocates now say they plan to ultimately take their effort to the nation’s highest court.

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Texas
7:16 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Allegations of Sexual Abuse at Immigrant Detention Center

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants are detained at the Karnes County Residential Center in South Texas
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Immigration advocates say whistleblowers are reporting sexual assault by guards at a privately run immigrant detention center in South Texas. The Karnes County Residential Center is run by GEO Group.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and attorneys at the University of Texas School of Law have filed a complaint with the federal government. It comes on the heels of a separate complaint last week alleging detainees have inadequate access to food, telephones and appropriate conditions to care for their children. 

In the latest complaint, MALDEF and the attorneys allege GEO guards are having sex with detainees, groping them in front of children, and calling the women detainees their "girlfriends." 

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Ebola
6:08 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Family of Dallas Ebola Patient Ordered to Stay Inside Their Home

Local law enforcement in Dallas is monitoring family members of the Dallas Ebola patient, to ensure they comply with an order to remain inside their home until at least Oct. 19, 2014.
KUT News

Four relatives of the Dallas Ebola patient are being monitored to ensure they stay inside their home and not risk spreading the disease. So far, however, they don’t have symptoms of Ebola, but their temperature will be taken twice a day.

This type of quarantine is possible because of a Texas law that allows health officials to issue a control order. It requires someone to stay home, "to ensure that we can monitor them as needed," said David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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HB2
5:39 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Federal Appeals Court Allows Texas to Implement Abortion Rules

A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the portions of an abortion law that had been struck down by a lower court's federal judge in Austin will go into effect immediately.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing portions of a controversial Texas abortion law to go into effect immediately. [Read a PDF version of the ruling here.]

Parts of the law were struck down by a federal judge in Austin just before they were scheduled to go into effect last month. Today's ruling allows those provisions to go into effect pending the outcome of the state's appeal.

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UT Football
3:09 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

McConaughey Lets the Horns Know It's Alright, Alright, Alright to Lose a Few Games

Matthew McConaughey visited the UT-Austin practice field last week to give the Longhorns a pep talk after their loss to UCLA in Dallas and ahead of their game against the Kansas Jayhawks. The talk went well: The Longhorns shutout the Jayhawks 23-0, which prompted the firing of that team's head coach.

In the Longhorn Network video of the speech, which surfaced online this week, McConaughey tells players that they haven't yet done their best work for the Longhorns, encouraged the players to "ask [themselves] why they're playing the game" and shared a chest-thump session with the team à la "Wolf of Wall Street."

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Texas
2:09 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

In ‘Into the Field’ a Veteran Foreign Correspondent Tells His Own Story

Author Tracy Dahlby (second from right) dines with a group of students during a 2008 China trip.
Rebecca Davis

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, the need for international news has steadily increased. But America’s appetite for foreign journalism has never been that large.

Many traditional news outlets have cut down on foreign correspondents, which makes author and professor Tracy Dahlby an increasingly rare subspecies of journalist. Dahlby’s memoir, “Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook,” provides a remarkable look at his vast experiences in Asia and the transformation of media that’s still on the way.

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Texas
11:17 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Is Texas Prepared for a Public Health Emergency?

Credit Todd Wiseman/Phil Moyer via Texas Tribune

A man who may have had contact with 100 other people is in isolation at a Dallas hospital after being diagnosed with Ebola, a deadly virus that has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa. Two weeks ago, El Paso officials said more than 700 infants may have been exposed to a hospital aide with tuberculosis. And in July, the first case of chikungunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes, arrived in Texas.

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2014 Elections
7:46 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Abbott & Davis Land Jabs, Offer Few Policy Specifics in Final Debate

Credit KERA via Texas Tribune

Republican Attorney Greg Abbott and Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis met for a second and final debate in Dallas last night.

There was plenty of sniping: Abbott alleged Davis profited from an incentive while she served on Fort Worth's city council and Davis vilified Abbott for his alleged lack of oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund.

But both made sure voters understood their ideological differences – even if their policy specifics remained a little fuzzy – and tried to use the night to gain momentum ahead of Election Day next month.

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Child Protective Services
5:36 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Experts Say Texas Child Protective Services Needs Help from Community Members

State Reps. Cindy Burkett, R-Garland, left, and Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, are members of the Texas House Select Committee on Child Protection. The committee hosted a public hearing on Sept. 30, 2014.
KUT News

A federal commission is researching how the U.S. can reduce the number of deaths from child abuse and neglect.

Today, a member of that group told Texas lawmakers that no one state agency is to blame for these child fatalities.

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities is working on a report for Congress and the President on how the U.S. can fight child deaths. The commission’s Susan Dreyfus says more people like doctors, police officers and caretakers need to call Child Protective Services when they see a child at risk.

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2014 Elections
9:25 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Lt. Gov. Candidates Trade Barbs on Taxes, Education & Immigration in Debate

State Sens. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, the candidates for lieutenant governor, debated in Austin on Sept. 29, 2014.
Eric Gay/AP

The two candidates for the state's second highest statewide office met last night at KLRU studios in Austin in their first and only debate before Election Day in November.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spent much of his time on stage trying to paint his opponent, as a tax-and-spend liberal who would wreck the Texas economy, while State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, spent much of the night trying to paint Patrick as out of step with the mainstream.

Patrick set his sights on Van de Putte’s legislative support of a bill providing in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, questioning whether the law gave deference to immigrants in admissions. Van de Putte singled out Patrick's support of $5.4 billion cuts in the state's education budget during the 2011 legislative session.

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oil boom
3:17 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Will Mexican Drilling Bring Texas Profit?

The oil and gas rich Eagle Ford Shale formation straddles both sides of the Texas / Mexico border.
Credit Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

  Today, members of the state House Energy Resources Committee met in the Rio Grande Valley town of Edinburg to discuss how a partial privatization of Mexico’s oil and gas sector could impact the Texas economy. 

Until this year, drilling in Mexico was run by Pemex, a state-owned company.  A change in Mexican law has now partially opened the county to foreign business. That could be a big opportunity for Texas companies familiar with the oil and gas rich Eagle Ford shale that straddles the border.

Some estimates have already said a shale boom in Mexico could grow the Texas economy by tens of billions of dollars. Others say it's too early to tell. 

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Affordable Care Act
11:15 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Texans Signing Up for Obamacare Will Have More Choices This Year

Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke about the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace on Sept. 23, 2014 at the Brookings Institution.
Brookings Institution

People shopping for health insurance on the federal marketplace in Texas will have more options when the enrollment period begins again later this year.

Sixteen companies will offer health insurance plans in Texas through the federal marketplace this time around, when open enrollment begins Nov. 15 for coverage starting in 2015. At the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke about changes in the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

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Texas
1:26 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

State Audit Finds Perry's Enterprise Fund Lacked Accountability

The governor's Texas Enterprise Fund is under scrutiny from a state audit that claims funds were allocated without review.
Photo illustration by Gage Skidmore / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry made a name for himself luring businesses from other states to Texas with the help of the Texas Enterprise Fund. A new report by the state auditor shows the fund handed out millions in grants to businesses without requiring the companies to create jobs or even apply for the money.

Gov. Perry started the fund in 2003, with a goal of providing additional money to entice businesses considering expansion in or relocation to Texas.

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Perry Indictment
7:32 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Special Prosecutor Says Perry Should Appear in Court

Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum says Gov. Perry should appear at his pretrial hearings, including one scheduled for Oct. 18.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From The Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry should not be excused from all hearings leading up to his felony trial because the governor is no different than "any other citizen of Texas," the special prosecutor in the criminal case said in a motion filed Wednesday.

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Texas
7:30 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

You Can Buy One of the Rifles Used in UT-Austin's Mass Shooting Online

The seller of this rifle says it was used in the UT tower shootings in 1966.
TexasGunTrader.com

Someone is selling a rifle they say was used in a mass shooting at the University of Texas campus almost 50 years ago. Charles Whitman killed 16 people on August 1, 1966 and wasn't stopped until Austin police officer Houston McCoy shot him at the top of the UT tower.

A listing on the Texas Gun Trader website shows a starting bid of $25,000 for the Remington 700 ADL with Lupold scope. Donald Weiss says he's selling it for a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

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Texas
4:24 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Study Finds Big Jump in Non-English Speaking Workers in Austin

Non-English speakers accounted for one fourth of all workers in the Austin construction industry, according to a Brookings Institution survey.
Photo by KUT

A study from the Brookings Institution released this week shows an increase in Austin area citizens that have limited proficiency in English. Just over 11 percent of people in the Austin-Round Rock area are among the so-called “limited English proficient” (LEP) population.

The survey showed a 40 percent increase in that population from 2000 to 2012, which totaled 142,338.

That population accounts for just over a quarter of the workforce in the area’s construction industry, earning a median income of $24,000. In addition, nearly 83 percent of those listed Spanish as their first language, and half were recent immigrants.

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Texas Standard
3:48 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

What Texas Voters Need to Know Before Heading to the Polls

Texas Governor Rick Perry after a cerimonial signing of Senate Bill 14, which requires voters to present photo IDs upon registration and at the polls.
Flickr user: Covernor Rick Perry, https://flic.kr/p/9Mx7Xy

With the November elections just over two months away, Texans around the state are registering or renewing their voter status. That is, if they first have a government-issued identification card.

Texas' voter ID law is currently being challenged in court by the U.S. Department of Justice, but until a decision is reached, Texans will be required to show an ID to register as voters. But what does this mean for voters in rural areas? Or for Texans who mail in their ballots? 

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry is in charge of informing Texans of the voter ID law and how to register. Berry sits down with Texas Standard host David Brown to discuss the requirements for voter registration, and how to attain a government-issued ID before the November elections. 

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Texas
8:34 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Obamacare Plans in Texas Vary Widely in Price, Report Shows

A new study from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation finds the cost of health insurance on the new federal marketplace varies widely in Texas.
healthcare.gov

A new study from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation finds the cost of health insurance on the new federal marketplace varies widely in Texas.

Researchers found almost half of Texans eligible for a tax subsidy for health insurance said plans were still too expensive. The Episcopal Health Foundation’s president, Elena Marks, says she and her colleagues went back to see what was unaffordable to many people.

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environment
5:03 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

What Does Fossil Fuel Divestment Mean For Texas?

Divestment has become a popular topic on college campuses and some boardrooms.But it will likely have trouble taking hold in oil rich parts of the state.
Credit PHOTO BY MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGE

This week in New York, the UN Climate Summit is underway.

The Rockefeller Foundation made news with the announcement that it will divest close to a billion dollars from fossil fuels. Here in Austin, University of Texas President Bill Powers gave his State of the University address Monday. But in contrast to the news from New York, Powers thanked "heavens" for the oil wealth provided to UT by its land holdings, and celebrated the fracking revolution as "good news" for the University.

The disconnect between the two messages leads one to wonder about the role of the divestment campaign in oil-rich parts of the country. Could divestment in other parts of the country grow to the point where it disrupts Texas' fossil fuel economy? By contrast, could divestment ever catch on here?

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