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

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From Texas Standard:

Texas began a strategic plan to reform the foster care system in 2014, but the overhaul is still in the early stages of rollout. The plan has been moving forward without much fanfare, at a time when Child Protective Services is taking a lot of heat for some high-profile tragedies.

The biggest change is a shift away from investigation efforts – the CPS worker who comes knocking on the door asking questions – to a public heath approach aimed at strengthening families and reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities.

The plan puts a heavy emphasis on the staggering cost of child abuse and the need to be smarter about resources – to use big data as never before. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Political wonks and reporters converged on the University of Texas at Austin campus for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival and your favorite daily Texas news show was there. We spoke to mayors and former mayors from around the state, political figureheads, and two of this year's third-party presidential candidates.

Brett Buchanan/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

With his cowboy hat and boots in a suit, few Texas politicians cut the figure Sid Miller does. Part of his job is being de facto ambassador, promoting Texas-made food and the like.

But when an investigation by the Houston Chronicle alleged Miller's trips to Oklahoma and Mississippi – paid for by state and campaign money – weren't all business, the Texas Rangers stepped in to investigate.


via Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is resigning in January, she said in a statement Monday. 

The 11-term state representative said her resignation was a result of health issues related to a 2013 car accident and concerns over caring for her 9-year-old daughter. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

This story is part of the NPR project "A Nation Engaged," which takes a deeper look at economic opportunity in 21st century America. 

Emil Pakarklis/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Cheryl Gerber for the Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas wants to take its voter identification battle to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the justices to hear his arguments about why the state’s photo ID requirements for voting do not discriminate against Hispanics and African-American voters. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

The state of Texas is threatening to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, if the feds don't accept the state's proposal for continuing the program in the next fiscal year. 

Bex_X_Pi (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said that by taking a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner," he's protesting racial injustice and police brutality. The idea was to spark a national conversation about these issues.

Other players have joined Kaepernick, not just in San Francisco and not just in the NFL. Athletes across the country, competing at different levels, are taking a knee – including high school football players in Texas


John Burnett/NPR & Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic depictions of a crime.

The federal government is trying to disrupt the Texas operations of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. It began in California in the 1960s and spread to Texas in the 1980s. Chapters formed across the country, but the federal government decided that those in Texas were among the most brutal and violent. In 2008, the federal government launched an aggressive six-year operation that landed 75 members of the Aryan Brotherhood in prison.

This highly exclusive, all-white criminal organization rarely talks to outsiders, least of to all members of the press. But NPR’s John Burnett spoke with James “Chance” Jones, a senior major in the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT).


DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

The ACLU and ACLU of Texas are getting involved in a lawsuit over a regulation in the Affordable Care Act. In August, Texas filed a lawsuit against federal regulations that prohibit healthcare discrimination against people who are transgender. The lawsuit was announced by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Franciscan Alliance. The lawsuit will be heard in Wichita Falls.

The rules state that healthcare entities are not allowed to deny or limit services – including gender transition services – based on race, national origin, sex, age or disability.


YouTube/Prophet Manasseh

From Texas Standard:

A couple weeks ago, I got this call from a number with a Dallas area code:

Hello. This is St. Mary’s Prayer Center Ministry calling today to see if you need urgent prayer. If you would like to have someone from our center pray for you, please press 1. If you would no longer like to hear from us, please press 3.


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Texas foster care system is not perfect. We’ve all heard stories about children bouncing around from one foster placement to another, or kids who are in and out of the system – as if going through a revolving door.

But that’s not the intent. Marissa Gonzalez is a spokesperson for Child Protective Services.

"When a child first comes into foster care, it is temporary,” she says. “The whole idea is for them to be safely reunited with their parents."


Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas lawmakers on Thursday revisited the fate of a $150 million cut in state funding to Medicaid payments for disabled children’s therapy made in 2015 — though the outcome of that cut remains uncertain as a legal battle over its legitimacy remains before the Texas Supreme Court.

'The Tacos of Texas' is the Ultimate Taco Road Trip

Sep 15, 2016

From Texas Standard:

In a state where the taco reigns supreme, it was inevitable that someone would write the be-all, end-all book on the subject.

That’s exactly what taco journalists Armando Rayo and Jarod Neece have done. The two taco-lovers embarked on a journey across 10 cities in Texas to find the best, the worst and the weirdest tacos for their new book, The Tacos of Texas.


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Numbers show a much tighter presidential race than anyone might imagine in what's often considered to be the reddest of red states. The Texas Lyceum released its closely watched polling results yesterday, showing that the race to the White House is still neck-and-neck.

Joe Diaz/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The United States Census Bureau dropped new data this week, as part of the American Community Survey, a yearly estimate of a plethora of different topics concerning American households, including numbers on healthcare, income, and poverty.


From the Texas Tribune: The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — has reached a settlement with Texas officials in a wrongful death lawsuit, a lawyer for the family said Thursday.

Texas Tribune

A new poll finds broad opposition in Texas to one of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s signature campaign promises.

Pie4all88/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Attorney General’s office and the Harris County Attorney’s Office are going after shops selling the synthetic cannabinoid Kush. Instead of prosecuting users, the offices have jointly filed 10 lawsuits against Houston-area novelty stores, where up to 40 percent of sales come from the drug. One novelty store has agreed to a nearly $1.2 million settlement after an undercover sting operation.