Texas

2015 Legislature
3:54 pm
Mon May 25, 2015

Bill Restricting Abortion for Some Minors Gets First Approval from Texas Senate

The Texas Senate gave a first OK to HB 3994 on May 25, 2015. The bill restricts how certain minors can get an abortion in Texas.
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.

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Weather
8:04 am
Sun May 24, 2015

One Confirmed Dead; Flooding in Central Texas as the Blanco River Rises to Historic Levels

Downed and damaged trees, property in Central Austin
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

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2015 Legislature
10:27 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Bill Protecting Pastors Who Refuse to Marry Same-Sex Couples Gets First OK

A bill, SB 2065, that would protect churches and clergy who don't want to marry a same-sex couple, is one step short of heading to Gov. Greg Abbott for a signature.
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. 

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Texas Standard
11:59 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Coming To a Keyboard Near You: Texas Emojis

Photo via Flickr/theusfalcao (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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.

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Small Town Texas
10:10 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Will Regional Growth Wake Up Sleepy Horseshoe Bay?

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.

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Texas Standard
2:38 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

This Mosquito Will Make You Run Out And Buy Bug Spray

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is in Texas and it can carry a painful disease called Chikungunya.
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.

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Small Town Texas
10:34 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Could Artists Revive Downtown Florence?

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.

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Small Town Texas
4:34 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Why This Couple Moved from Big City Mexico to Small Town Texas

Sergio Gon moved with his family from Mexico to Giddings so he could teach bilingual kindergarten classes.
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.

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Texas
6:52 pm
Sun May 17, 2015

9 Dead In Waco Following Biker Gang Shootings

Waco police say nine people were killed Sunday afternoon after a shootout involving rival biker gangs.
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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Texas
2:59 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Blue Bell Creameries to Lay Off 1,450 Workers in Wake of Listeria Recall

sarowen/flickr

Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries announced today it will lay off more than one-third of its workforce, as it struggles to bring its production back online after listeria contamination was found in its ice cream products and at several of its plants.

Three deaths have been linked to the contamination.

750 full-time and 700 part-time workers will be laid off. That represents 37 percent of the company's 3,900 employees.

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Texas Standard
11:23 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Why Mad Max Might Really Be a Texan

tricks ware/flickr

He's just a Texan posing as a Brit posing as an Aussie.

Is Mad Max a crypto-Texan? About as much as a character played by an English actor in an Australian film shot in the African desert can be. Director George Miller has said he's making a "western on wheels." And Max is a character straight out of the American West. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth part of the dystopian series.

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Texas
10:27 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Will Texas Lawmakers Close Austin's School for Adults with Developmental Disabilities?

Locals gathered at the Living Center in March for a rally protesting the residential facility's potential closure.
KUT News

It's been almost 100 years since the state school opened its doors to adults with severe developmental disabilities. Today the state school is called Austin State Supported Living Center, and it's facing closure via two bills in the legislature: Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 2699.

The process started last summer when the state's Sunset Advisory Commission, the group of legislators who study which state agencies are obsolete, decided the school needed to close. Despite opposition from the parents and guardians of the 215 people who live at the school, the bills are steadily inching their way through the legislative process.

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Texas
8:19 am
Thu May 14, 2015

House OKs Bill Restricting Minors Seeking Abortions

State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, talks with a colleague prior to the introduction of House Bill 3994 in the Texas House on May 13, 2015.
Credit Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Minors seeking to obtain abortions without parental consent would face more restrictions under a bill that received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Texas House.

After about four hours of debate and a barrage of failed amendments by Democrats, the House passed House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria on a 98-47 vote. The measure would enact several restrictions on “judicial bypass,” the legal process that allows some minors to obtain abortions without their parents’ permission. The measure now awaits final approval by the House before it can go to the Senate.

Texas law requires minors to obtain consent for an abortion from at least one parent. But if obtaining an abortion could endanger the minor, she can look to the courts for judicial bypass to obtain the abortion without parental consent.

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Texas
3:40 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Is Southwest Airlines Coasting On Its Friendly Reputation?

Has Southwest Airlines aged out of its fun, quirky reputation?
stmaartenpiloot/flickr

Greg Puriski has worked as a ramp worker for Southwest Airlines for 19 years, and he’s always felt like he was an asset to the company. “The last few years — I want to say the last five years or so — the culture has changed, from where we’re more like a regular legacy carrier or regular corporation, to where we’re not really appreciated anymore, and it just feels like there’s procedure changes all the time,” Pruinski says.

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Texas
11:28 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Why Austin's City Attorney Keeps an Eye on the Texas Legislature

For now, City Attorney Karen Kennard hopes that none of the bills that would affect Austin make it through the whole legislative process and end up on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Every legislative session, there are bound to be bills targeting some regulation or other in Austin.

Which is why every session, Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard heads to the Capitol to learn more about the bills and to see if their impact on Austin would be positive or negative. These are her projections.

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Garland Shooting
10:21 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Texas Police Were Warned About Gunmen At Muhammad Cartoon Event — And They Weren't

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:05 am

In the May 3 "Draw Muhammad" attack in Garland, Texas, there were some loose ends that got cleared up Monday by local police chief Mitch Bates. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi from Phoenix were killed by Garland police officers after the two men drove from Arizona and opened fire at the event featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

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Texas
12:05 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Updated: Tornadoes and Storms Wreak Havoc in Texas, Gov. Declares State of Disaster

A tornado touches down in Cisco, Texas.
Brian Khorey/AP

Update 4:45 p.m. Governor Greg Abbott today declared a state of disaster in Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, Montague and Van Zandt counties, authorizing further mobilization of state resources to assist affected communities. Additional counties may be added to the declaration as the situation develops.

Current state forecasts indicate the continuation of possible severe thunderstorms, large hail, damaging winds, flash flooding, river flooding and tornadoes across the state throughout the week. 

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Texas
11:36 am
Mon May 11, 2015

With Less Than a Month Left in Session, Deadlines Approach for State Lawmakers

The last day of the 84th state legislative session is June 1. As that day approaches, lawmakers begin to face hundreds of bills and various deadlines.
Liang Shi/KUT News

Less than a month remains in this year's legislative session, and Texas lawmakers face hundreds of bills and several procedural deadlines this week.

Today is the last day House committee members can vote on bills that originated in the House, which means it's the last day a House bill has a chance of being placed on the calendar for the whole chamber to hear.

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Affordable Care Act
12:45 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Texas Hospitals Could Lose Billions Without Medicaid Waiver

If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doesn't renew the Texas 1115 Medicaid transformation waiver in 2016, hospitals could lose billions in federal funding.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

A waiver program that provides billions of dollars for Texas hospitals expires next year, and a panel of House lawmakers is asking state health officials if they have a Plan B. 

The 1115 Medicaid transformation waiver, among other things, gives billions in federal dollars to Texas hospitals that provide care for patients who don't have health insurance.  

In 2013, Texas spent almost $4 billion in what's called "uncompensated care" for low-income Texans.

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Texas
7:50 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Listeria Bacteria Found Two Years Ago at Blue Bell Plant, Report Says

A report from the FDA shows the Brenham-based ice cream maker had issues two years prior to the recall spurred by three deaths in Kansas.
sarowen/flickr

Listeria bacteria was found in Blue Bell ice cream's Oklahoma plant two years ago, according to test results the federal government released yesterday.

The report, which was released after a Freedom of Information Act request from the Houston Chronicle's Mark Collette, also revealed the company continued to ship ice cream produced in that plant after what the FDA said was inadequate cleaning. The reports also showed failures at a Blue Bell facility in Alabama and at the company's flagship facility in Brenham.

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