Texas

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

Central Texas just had one of its wettest Mays on record. The heavy rainfall, storms and flooding became deadly and destructive, causing 23 deaths. Crews continue to search for those who are still missing in Hays County, where storms and flooding destroyed homes and property of many residents.

President Obama gave Texas a federal disaster declaration Saturday, allowing affected counties access to federal aid for relief efforts.

Erika Rich/Texas Tribune

Update, May 30, 2015:

An open carry bill was approved by the Texas Legislature on Friday, and the measure now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk for his signature.

Texas is one of few states where open carry is prohibited, but the bill approved by state lawmakers on Friday would change that. License holders would be allowed to openly carry in a hip or shoulder holster.

Right now, Texans can only carry concealed handguns.

In Texas, Lucky Dogs Go to This Pet Retirement Home

May 29, 2015
daphenator/flickr

If you go to the Stevenson Companion Animal Life Care Center at Texas A&M, you’ll be greeted by a posse of dogs that includes a 10-year-old Boston Terrier named Patty. She has short little legs and an irresistibly smooshed face. She was running in circles around my legs.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

We’ve been reporting on the damage caused to communities like San Marcos and Wimberley after record flooding along the Blanco River.

Since then, volunteers have come out in force to help people dealing with the aftermath.

At a former Target in San Marcos, instead of aisle after aisle of merchandise, table after table is covered in donations. Diane Insley, the coordinator at this donation center, lists off all of the donations they have.

"Cleaning supplies, mops, tools to rip out sheet rock that’s been damaged. We also have basic food, non perishable food items, a lot of bottled water, some brand new clothing, some basic shoes and then we have baby items, personal hygiene, deodorant soaps, Clorox bleach, laundry detergent...," she points out. 

hellamike81/flickr

From Texas Standard:

The ground is saturated, the grass is green and the state climatologist has declared the statewide drought as we’ve known it since 2010 effectively over.

But there’s at least one piece of the puzzle that’s not quite there yet: some of the state’s water supplies – including the lakes that supply much of the Austin area.

John Hoffman is with the Lower Colorado River Authority. He says the lakes are now more than 50 percent full – that’s up about 20 percent from where the lakes were earlier this year – but it isn’t enough.

Liang Shi/KUT News

Under a measure passed by the Texas House and Senate (SJR 52), statewide office-holders would be able to live outside of Austin — but voters will have a say first.

Since 1876, the Texas Constitution has required certain statewide officials to live in the state capital, and that hasn’t changed. On Wednesday, however, the Texas House approved a measure that would allow statewide officials to live somewhere other than Austin if they want to. While they would likely reside in Austin during lawmaking sessions, they wouldn't have to keep a permanent residence in Travis County for the duration of their four-year terms.

Mose Buchele/KUT News

Victims of the deadly floods that struck Central Texas over Memorial Day weekend are sorting through the physical wreckage of the storms. In San Marcos, they’re also trying to make sense of what happened and what comes next.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Organizations throughout Central Texas are looking for money, for donations of goods and for volunteers to help with flood relief efforts.

The city of Wimberley opened a hotline both for volunteers and for residents in need – that number is 512-754-2275. They also have a facebook page here, where they're updating information about what they need.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The community in Wimberley is finding some sort of normalcy after record flooding over the weekend. Seven homes there were destroyed, and 1,400 were damaged. But even before the waters had receded, community members started looking for ways to help their neighbors.

A steady flow of customers came into Brookshire Brothers, Wimberley's local supermarket, on Tuesday. Customers were buying extra water and groceries that supermarket employees would then pack up for neighbors in need. A sign-up sheet by the door encouraged residents to write down how they could help others. Some people offered their cars; others, their cell phones.

Photo via Flickr/martin55 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

In case you missed it, Texas House Concurrent Resolution 130 is now law.

“WHEREAS, John Wayne is the prototypical American hero, symbolizing such traits as self-reliance, grace under pressure, resolve, and patriotism be it resolved that the State of Texas hereby resolves May 26th as John Wayne Day.”

John Wayne’s son, Ethan Wayne, is an actor himself – he joins the Texas Standard to talk about his father’s career.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Update Tuesday 4:30 a.m. Several additional area school districts have announced changes to their schedules for today because of flooding and road conditions:

  • Classes at Taylor High School have been canceled because of flooding in the building. All other Taylor ISD schools will operate on a two hour delay.
  • The following districts are operating on a two hour delay: Hutto, Jarrell, Luling, Lockhart, Manor (two hour delay for students; staff report at regular time).

Because of some track washouts, Capital Metro's MetroRail will operate only between the Howard and Downtown stations on Tuesday. Cap Metro says road conditions may also cause some bus route detours.

Earlier: After storms wreaked havoc through Central Texas Sunday, the area was hit again Monday afternoon, flooding roadways and causing power outages in Austin and surrounding areas. After reported tornado touchdowns mid-afternoon in several Central Texas counties, storms deluged the already-saturated Austin area with rain, causing flooding all over the city.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A bill (House Bill 3994) that would add restrictions to how minors can bypass the state’s parental consent law to get an abortion was approved by the Texas Senate today.

What’s called the judicial bypass bill received plenty of roadblocks from opponents, however. 

Before the bill was even brought up for a vote, opponents in the Senate had hours’ worth of questions about what the bill would require a minor and a judge to do.

Lizzie Chen

One fatality has been reported, officials say. The man's identity has not been released publicly.

Update Monday 8 a.m. We are reporting Monday's news here. A flash flood watch and a tornado watch are in effect for large parts of Central Texas as more severe weather is expected this afternoon and evening. Governor Greg Abbott is traveling to storm- and flood-damaged areas today, and we'll be covering his press conference in Wimberley at 1 p.m.

For information on how you can find or donate assistance, we are compiling a list here

Morguefile/flickr

Religious objections to gay marriage would be protected from lawsuits, if a bill passed by the Texas House becomes law.

It got a first OK Thursday by the House and is expected to get final passage today. 

Coming To a Keyboard Near You: Texas Emojis

May 20, 2015

From Texas Standard:

Emojis — small graphics of items, symbols, and faces used in texting and web messaging — have become a major form of communication. You can hold entire conversations with them and even, if you have a lot of time on your hands, transcribe entire books with them.

But a lot of Texas icons — armadillos, Shiner beer, Whataburger — are regrettably missing from your smartphone keyboard. No more! A Texas company will make your ‘Texmoji’ dreams come true.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Horseshoe Bay sits on the southern end of Lake LBJ in the Texas Hill country. Like every other Hill Country town, it has beautiful views, amazing wildflowers and a relaxed atmosphere. But the similarities end there: Horseshoe Bay isn’t like any other Hill Country town.

The median home price is $525,000. Fifty-three percent of the town is at least 60 years old. Only about 25 percent of the town lives there full-time, and most of the homes in town are second, or even third, homes.

Older folks with money in a sleepy lakeside town — but there might be more to Horseshoe Bay than meets the eye.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

From Texas Standard:

Walking out to get the mail? Put on some repellant. Seriously.

One type of mosquito you really want to avoid right now is one that is out and about in the middle of the day. It is the type that carries a painful disease that’s spread from South and Central America into Mexico and, perhaps soon, Texas.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’re heading north on I-35, just past Georgetown you’ll find Florence, Texas.

The town of a little more than a thousand people is experiencing big changes.

It used to be a vibrant little town, in part because drivers needed to go through it on their way to Killeen. About 18,000 cars used to drive through Florence’s Main Street everyday — but not anymore.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Driving around the town of Giddings, it's hard to miss the yellow 'Giddings football' flags flying in front of many homes.

“Football is really big with any small town. The school is the hub of the community, so everyone gets involved,” says Shane Holman, assistant Superintendent for Giddings ISD.

Holman’s lived in Giddings for most of his life. Six years ago, he says, there was a community push for something new: a soccer program.

To him, that’s just one sign of the changing demographics in Giddings’ schools.

9 Dead In Waco Following Biker Gang Shootings

May 17, 2015
Waco Police Department Facebook

Waco police say nine people have been killed and others injured after gunfire erupted between rival biker gangs at a restaurant.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton says eight people died at the scene of the shooting at Twin Peaks restaurant about noon Sunday and another person died at a hospital.

Swanton says the fight began with punches and then escalated to knives and firearms. It's not immediately clear if bystanders are among the dead. The severity of injuries to others was not immediately known.

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