Texas

Texas
9:40 am
Wed March 14, 2012

What's Next for Texas' Women's Health Program?

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

A state rule that forces Planned Parenthood out of Texas' Women's Health Program takes effect today, and in response, the Obama administration is preparing to halt federal funding for the program. But the change won't be immediate: Texas health officials say it will take a few weeks to transition to a fully state-run program from one that had been 90-percent funded by the federal government. 

Since the standoff between Texas and the federal government erupted over the state's decision to write clinics "affiliated" with abortion providers out of the Women's Health Program, abortion opponents have argued that there are thousands of more comprehensive health care providers available to take Planned Parenthood's place. By law, none of the clinics enrolled in the five-year-old program were performing abortions.

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Texas
12:45 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Rusty Hardin Picked For Prosecutor In Morton Case

Michael Morton hearing on February 10, 2012 at the Williamson Co. Courthouse.
Photo by: Spencer Selvidge/Texas Tribune

Houston criminal defense lawyer Rusty Hardin will be the special prosecutor in the court of inquiry looking into possible misconduct in the case of Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted in 1987 of bludgeoning his wife to death. 

This won't be Hardin's first high-profile case. The former Harris County prosecutor has represented Roger Clemens, J. Howard Marshall's estate in the Anna Nicole Smith lawsuit, and, during the Enron scandal, accounting firm Arthur Andersen. 

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Texas
2:37 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Reactions to Justice Department Photo Voter ID Decision

The Department of Justice building in Washington DC.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/mvjantzen

Earlier today, KUT News reported the Department of Justice has refused to preclear Texas' voter ID law, arguing it would disproportionately impact Latino and Hispanic voters. Here's a roundup of lawmakers' reaction to the decision. 

Gov. Rick Perry

 "Texas has a responsibility to ensure elections are fair, beyond reproach and accurately reflect the will of voters. The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane. Their denial is yet another example of the Obama Administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach."

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Texas
10:53 am
Mon March 12, 2012

DOJ Refuses to Clear Texas Voter ID Law

Gov. Rick Perry's ceremonial signing of SB 14, the state's Voter ID law.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/texasgovernor

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to clear Texas’ voter ID requirements, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011.

The state and the DOJ have been at odds over the issue for months, with the feds requesting additional information to ascertain whether the law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.

Texas is one of the Southern states covered under the Voting Rights Act; Section 5 of the act requires the DOJ to “pre-clear” any electoral changes states make that might impact minority voters.

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Texas
3:20 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Roger Williams Will Run for Congress — in CD-25

Republican car dealer and former Secretary of State Roger Williams in Dallas on October 3, 2011 at the construction site of the Bush Presidential Library on the SMU campus.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams will join the Republican primary for a congressional seat that stretches 200 miles from the southern edge of Tarrant County to Hays County, south of Austin.

"We're excited and ready to get going," Williams told the Tribune Thursday morning, as he was preparing to file with the state GOP.

Williams initially set out to run for U.S. Senate, but switched to a race for Congress after the Legislature drew new maps. But those maps died in court, and the Weatherford Republican ended up in a district, CD-12, with an incumbent — Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth — that he didn't want to challenge.

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Texas
1:08 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

From The Outside, Doctor Mobilizes Aid For Syrians

A wounded Syrian undergoes treatment at a makeshift hospital in a house in the Baba Amr district of the central city of Homs.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 11:13 am

At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.

Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.

The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.

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Texas
3:19 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Human Trafficking a Problem in Texas?

Lawmakers discussed new rules aiming to help stem human trafficking into Texas
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

The Texas Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Human Trafficking took testimony today from various state agencies on their efforts to combat human trafficking and to discuss what state lawmakers can do about it. 

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Texas
9:49 am
Sun March 4, 2012

Sunday Morning Headlines for March 4, 2012

Photo by KUT News

Army Paratrooper from Marble Falls Killed

A soldier from Marble Falls has been killed in Afghanistan.

Army Pfc. Payton Jones died Thursday in Kandahar province after an attack on his base, according to the Department of Defense. He was one of two soldiers who died during the same assault. Staff Sgt. Jordan L. Bear, 25, of Denver, Colorado was also killed.

Jones was a paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He was 19 years old.

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Texas
4:19 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Army Paratrooper From Marble Falls Dies In Afghanistan

A soldier from Marble Falls has been killed in Afghanistan.

Pfc. Payton Jones died Thursday in Kandahar province after an attack on his base, according to the Department of Defense. He was one of two soldiers who died during the same assault. Staff Sgt. Jordan L. Bear, 25, of Denver, Colorado was also killed.

Jones was a paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He was 19 years old.

Texas
2:02 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Manufacturing Rising in Texas, Says Dallas Fed

This five-year chart in the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey shows continued rising production.
Image courtesy dallasfed.org

Texas manufacturing ticked up last month, according to a report from the Dallas Federal Reserve (DFR).

The Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey is conducted by the DFR monthly. It only complies results from 85 Texas manufacturers, so it’s more of a snapshot that a comprehensive assessment. Still, the findings reflect improving conditions among those surveyed.

The DFR points to several signs of manufacturing improvement: The state production index, the DFR’s gauge of manufacturing conditions, rose by over five points, from 5.8 to 11.2. New orders, shipments, and capacity utilization all posted gains for the month.

Employment measures – both new hires and hours worked by current employees – also saw growth.

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Texas
3:58 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Five-Way Split for Travis County in Redistricting Map

A detail of a newly released map, showing Travis County's five districts.

A federal court in San Antonio has issued maps for United States House and Texas House seats that, barring further appeals, will be used for elections this year. 

The new maps boost the number of congressional House districts that dip into Travis County to five, dramatically changing the district for long-time Austin Democrat Lloyd Doggett. Uncertainty over how the districts would be drawn (in turn leading to postponement of the Texas primary date) have thrown a wrench in election plans for candidates, including Doggett, who currently represents District 25.

Doggett is widely expected to run in the new District 35, which stretches from eastern Travis County down to San Antonio.

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Texas
2:49 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Texas Doctor Charged in Largest Medical Fraud Case Ever

The DOJ alleges a Dallas doctor and associates billed for $365 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid charges.
Photo courtesy Images of Money, flickr.com/59937401@N07

Everything’s bigger in Texas – even the indictments.

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted a Texas doctor and his associates on $365 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billings – the largest single medical fraud case ever alleged by the government.

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Texas
8:26 pm
Sat February 25, 2012

Texas Keystone XL Opponents Look To Day in Court

The Keystone XL pipeline would take oil from sand pits in Canada to refineries in Texas.
Photo by Flickr user Loozrboy/Creative Commons

Transcanada will be able to start building a portion of the the Keystone XL pipeline on land owned by Texas farmer Julia Trigg Crawford as early as March 1.  A temporary restraining order banning the Canadian pipeline builder from starting construction was dissolved Friday. Trigg Crawford had filed the order to stop the company from trenching on her family farm.

Linda Curtis is the director of Independent Texans, a group that supported Trigg Crawford. She told KUT the trial in April is a test of existing property law.

Texas
1:42 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Will Water Rights Decision Open Floodgate of Similar Lawsuits?

A decision found that property owners may be compensated for water underneath their property, if they're prohibited from pumping over a certain amount.
Photo courtesy usgs.gov

The perennial issue of Texas water rights may soon reach a boiling point.

Today, the Texas Supreme Court handed down a ruling stating property owners can be compensated for water underneath their property, if a limit has been placed on the amount they can pump by a water authority.

KUT’s Mose Buchele, reporting for StateImpact Texas, writes:

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Texas
10:31 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Governor's Plan to Run Could Impede Attorney General

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott greets members of the Texas "strike force" in Iowa to support Governor Rick Perry on January 3, 2012.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry might run for re-election in 2014, and he could run again for president in 2016.

Isn’t this familiar?

Three years ago, as the legislative session began in January, politically minded Texans talked about whether it would be Perry’s last ride as governor. Lobbyists wondered openly whether they were dealing with a lame duck.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was quietly talking to advisers about a 2010 race for governor, presumably hoping to step into the office after Perry stepped out.

Now it’s Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, who is quietly talking about working in the Texas Capitol’s middle office. The conversation among lobbyists is there, still, along with a bemused and persistent cautionary note: Remember last time, when Perry turned out not to be a lame duck?

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Texas
8:55 am
Fri February 24, 2012

AM Update: 'Hog Out' in Hardeman, Details on UT Athletics Firing, and Santorum's Austin Stop

These feral hogs are on the Texas "most wanted list," according to Ag Commissioner Todd Staples.
Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife

Hardeman County Wins "Hog Out Challenge"

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Texas
8:18 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Texas Joins States Challenging Contraception Coverage

Texas is taking part in lawsuit challenging contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/thestarshine

Texas has joined six other states challenging the constitutionality of the federal mandate that requires contraceptive coverage in all employee healthcare benefits.

A fracas erupted earlier this month when Catholic organizations protested a requirement in the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reforms, that employer health insurance would cover contraception. The Texas Tribune reports:

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Texas
11:39 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Suehs Signs Rule Banning Abortion Affiliates

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

If there was any hope that the state was seeking a compromise with the federal government over Texas’ Women’s Health Program, it’s fading fast. At the direction of lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule on Thursday that formally bans Planned Parenthood clinics and other "affiliates of abortion providers" from participating in the program — something the Obama administration has said is a deal-breaker for the nearly $40 million-per-year state-federal Medicaid program. 

The rule, signed by Commissioner Tom Suehs on Thursday, takes effect March 14.  

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Texas
4:57 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Get Voter Information from Spam Emails

A widely circulated email has Texas voters worried their voter registration may have lapsed.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/sarowen

The ongoing confusion over Texas primaries is helping spread misinformation over who’s registered to vote, and who isn’t.

The Austin-American Statesman notes county election administrators have been deluged with calls from citizens asking whether they’re still registered to vote. And the culprit appears to be an incorrect, indiscriminately forwarded email.

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Texas
2:09 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

State Seeks Gag Order in 1986 Murder Case

Mark Norwood being led into court for the first time on Jan. 18th 2011. He is charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton.
Photo by Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Attorneys for the Texas attorney general's office today asked Williamson County state district Judge Burt Carnes to issue a gag order in the case of Mark Alan Norwood, the 57-year-old Bastrop resident who is facing trial in the 1986 murder of Christine Morton.

"There exists an ongoing serious and imminent threat to the integrity of the administration of justice in these causes as a result of such extrajudicial statements," Assistant Attorney General Lisa Tanner wrote in the motion seeking to silence parties in the case.

Judge Barnes said he would take the motion under advisement.

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