Texas

Affordable Care Act
12:53 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Obamacare Deadline Is Today For Coverage Starting Feb. 1

For consumers wanting a health insurance plan through the federal marketplace, Jan. 15 is a deadline for coverage that becomes effective Feb. 1.
healthcare.gov

People who qualify for health insurance through the federal marketplace should keep in mind some looming deadlines – like today, for people wanting coverage to start Feb. 1.

Open enrollment will end soon for those who qualify for a health insurance plan on the federal marketplace. That deadline is Feb. 15 for coverage that begins on March 1.

People who want their coverage to start Feb. 1 must enroll and pay for their health insurance plan by the end of today, Jan. 15.

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Drones
11:43 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Homeland Security Calls Border Drones Costly, Ineffective

A CBP unmanned aerial vehicle.
Gerald Nino/wikimedia commons

From Marfa Public Radio:

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General is out with harsh words for the agency’s eight-year-old border drone program, saying unmanned air patrols of the border are “dubious achievers.”

In a report released last week, Inspector General John Roth said the department’s own sub-agency – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – hasn’t proven the drone program is worth paying for, and that CBP should scrap any plans to expand it.

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2015 Legislature
9:30 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Will Texas Senate Keep Its Two-Thirds Rule in 2015?

The Texas Senate will vote whether to keep or scrap the two-thirds rule after Jan. 20, 2015.
Bryan Winter/KUT News

Texas senators have long honored a tradition known as the two-thirds rule, which means two-thirds of the chamber’s 31 members – or 21 of them – have to agree to bring a bill up for a vote.

The full Texas senate will have a vote to decide whether to keep this rule or scrap it in the 2015 session, but Texas senators will have to wait until after the Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is sworn in before they vote whether to keep the two-thirds rule.  

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2015 Legislature
4:18 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Gun Rights Advocates Drum Up Support for Open Carry Bill

Murdoch Pizgatti, president of Come and Take It Texas, operates the Ghost Gunner machine outside the Texas State Capitol on Jan. 13, 2015.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gun rights activists demonstrated at the Capitol today in support of a bill that would allow people to carry handguns openly without a permit.

The author of the bill is State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Tea Party Republican from Tarrant County. He stood alongside thousands of signed petitions in favor of House Bill 195. Rep. Stickland said paying for a permit is unfair to low-income Texans. 

"There are a lot of people out here who do not have the disposable income to pay these fines for the right to carry," Stickland said.

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State Legislature
7:30 am
Mon January 12, 2015

How Will Falling Oil Prices Affect the State Budget?

Oil prices will be a consideration for the state's two-year budget.

Lawmakers will find out this morning how much money they’ll have to work with as they craft the state’s next two-year budget. They’re expected to have plenty of wiggle room, but rapidly dropping oil prices have raised some concerns. Oil and gas prices could affect those numbers.

At the end of 2013, former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the state could have about $2.6 billion dollars in unspent revenue from the current budget. Some believe that surplus will be even larger when current Comptroller Glenn Hegar delivers his revenue estimate this morning. And that money could be a big help, considering the state's economic future might not be as rosy thanks to falling oil prices.

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Gay Marriage
4:37 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Appeals Judges Raise Doubts on Gay Marriage Ban

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building in New Orleans.
Credit Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Signaling significant doubt about the constitutionality of Texas' ban on same-sex marriages, two federal appeals judges on Friday questioned a state attorney's argument that marriage is a “subsidy” that the state has the right to grant and withhold.

In sharp exchanges with two judges of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jonathan Mitchell of the Texas attorney general’s office argued during the roughly hourlong hearing that defining marriage should be left to the states, not the courts or the federal government. He added that the state should not be forced to recognize marriages that are not between a man and a woman because such marriages do less to “further the state’s interest” in the procreation of its residents.

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Texas
2:10 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Appeals Judges Grill Lawyers Over Abortion Law

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans.
Credit Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune

NEW ORLEANS — In a long line of tough questioning Wednesday over a new Texas abortion law, federal appeals judges here questioned whether part of a provision requiring abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards should be struck down.

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2015 Legislature
8:43 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Abortion, Family Planning Bills Filed Ahead of Texas' 2015 Legislative Session

Texas' 84th Legislature might debate bills related to abortion and family planning in the 2015 legislative session.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Legislature made headlines in 2013 when it passed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country,

That law, known as HB2, bans most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, it requires doctors to receive admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the abortion clinic and only allows abortions at ambulatory surgical centers. Parts of that law are being challenged this week at a federal appeals court.

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2015 Legislature
8:40 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Can Texas Insure More Low-Income People Without Expanding Medicaid?

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott says he expects Texas lawmakers will consider ways to reduce the rate of the uninsured next legislative session.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the nation, and last legislative session, lawmakers did have some discussion on how Texas could draw down federal dollars to insure more people, but only if the options don't include expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

At least one of the bills filed already would allow Medicaid expansion, but that doesn’t mean any will make it to the floor of the House or Senate for discussion.

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Aging in Texas
10:15 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Texas Researchers Seek World War II Vets for Study on Memory, Identity

World War II veteran Joe Berger receives a visit from Cadet Third Class Garrett Goldstone, who's with the University of Texas at Austin Air Force ROTC, on Nov. 11, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A team of researchers, led by a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been studying characteristics of memory among World War II veterans.

The team is finding that these seniors have an unusual ability to remember their life stories, which may be a result of serving in that particular war.

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Texas
2:39 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

With New Land Commissioner, a New Era for Bushes

George P. Bush is sworn in Jan. 2, 2015 as Texas land commissioner as dad Jeb Bush and wife Amanda look on.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

It's official: Texas is once again Bush country.

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Texas
7:17 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Texas' Voice in Washington Will Get Louder Through House Committee Chairs

Texas Republicans will chair six of the 21 U.S. House committees when the 114th U.S. Congress starts in January 2015.
Photo by jmtimages http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmtimages/

The 114th U.S. Congress is getting attention for how few women will chair committees in the House, but when it comes to Texans – they won’t be under-represented. Texas Republicans will chair six of the 21 U.S. House committees.

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2014 Elections
11:41 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Early Voting Starts Today to Fill Texas House District 17 Seat

Early voting starts on Dec. 29, 2014, for a state representative, District 17, special election.

Early voting starts today in several special elections, including one to fill a State House seat vacated by State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington.

Voters in Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee Counties are casting a ballot once again. They’re choosing a new Texas House member to represent House District 17, a seat that opened up after Rep. Kleinschmidt resigned to work for the Texas Department of Agriculture.

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AirAsia
11:33 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

AirAsia Plane Missing After Takeoff From Indonesia

Relatives of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other Sunday at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Trisnadi AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 1:48 pm

Updated at 1:00 p.m. ET

Search operations have been suspended for the night for an AirAsia plane with 162 aboard that lost contact with air traffic control after takeoff from Indonesia on a flight to Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority reports.

The plane, en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, lost contact about an hour before it was due to arrive in Singapore. It was scheduled to land at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday), Hadi Mustofa, an official with the Indonesian air ministry, said on Indonesia's MetroTV.

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Texas
1:38 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Bugged by Tiny Gnat-Like Insects? What They Are & Where They're Coming From

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachypsylla#mediaviewer/File:Hackberry_Nipplegall_Maker_1.jpg

Hackberry trees are pretty common in this part of Texas. If you’re not sure whether you have one in your yard – there’s a pretty obvious sign.

Insect experts say hundreds to thousands of the little insects that love hackberry trees are swarming right now.

"I’ve been getting lots of calls on hackberry psyllids," Texas A&M Agrilife Extension program specialist Wizzie Brown says.

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Texas
9:04 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Medicaid Eligibility Changes Have Texas Parents Scrambling to Regain Coverage

When Julio Solis Milam, 12, became ineligible for the Medically Dependent Children’s Program in 2013, his mother Claire Milam appealed the decision. He’s now eligible for a different Medicaid waiver program.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas has Medicaid programs that help parents or guardians care at home for children who would otherwise be eligible for nursing facility care, but recently the requirements for children to qualify for some programs have changed.

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Texas
8:28 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Physicians Groups Oppose Treatment of Sleep Disorders by Texas Dentists

The Texas Medical Association has filed a lawsuit in the Travis County District Court challenging a new rule adopted by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.
Photo by Keith Burtis/http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithburtis/

Last June, The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners adopted a rule allowing dentists in the state to diagnose and treat certain sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea in collaboration with a physician, but a number of physicians groups have spoken out against this new rule, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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Same-Sex Marriage
7:45 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Texas Plaintiffs Hope Federal Appeals Court Will Rule Against Gay Marriage Ban

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Texas' same-sex marriage ban. They spoke at a Freedom to Marry event at the LBJ Library on Dec. 15, 2014.
KUT News

In February, a U.S. district judge in San Antonio ruled that Texas’ gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia didn’t allow gay couples to marry right away, however. He issued a stay on his ruling pending an appeal from the state.

Next, three judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from both sides in this case challenging the same-sex marriage ban in Texas.

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Texas
12:14 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Where Are All of Texas' Christmas Trees Coming From?

Bastrop County produced the most Christmas trees in Texas last year, but the industry in Texas is still dwarfed by states like North Carolina and Oregon.
Via, flickr.com/photos/aquariawintersoul

A Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a car, or shimmering in a cheerfully decorated living room is a common sight this time of year.  The USDA estimates the Christmas tree industry to be a $14.5 billion enterprise. While states like Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan lead in harvests, a new USDA survey shows Central Texas leads the state in production, but where are those trees coming from?

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Texas
8:03 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Volunteers Caring for Texas Children Need Financial Support, Report Suggests

A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities says more than 250,000 children in Texas are living with volunteer caregivers who need financial support.
Filipa Rodriques/KUT News

In Texas, more than 250,000 children are living with grandparents or other volunteer caregivers, but a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests that many of them are not up to the task financially and could use more support and guidance.

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