Texas

Texas
12:51 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Grand Jury Recommends UT Regent's Removal

UT Regent Wallace Hall on April 28, 2014. Lawmakers admonished and censured Hall, who was waging a personal investigation into lawmaker influence in the UT-Austin admissions process.
Charlie Pearce/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In an unusual, strongly worded report, a Travis County grand jury recommended this week that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall be removed from office.

It didn’t, however, indict him or accuse him of any criminal wrongdoing. Instead, it called Hall’s behavior “unaccountable and abusive.”

"Transparency and accountability are key elements in maintaining citizens' trust in their government," the report said. "Regent Hall demonstrated neither accountability nor transparency in his actions."

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2015 Legislature
7:39 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Texas Senate Gives First OK to Grading Schools A Through F

Texas Senators voted preliminarily to pass a bill on March 30, 2015, that would give Texas public schools a letter grade based on standardized test scores.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Texas Senate is moving forward with a proposal to assign letter grades to Texas public schools.

Supporters say this bill would boost failing schools, while opponents say these grades will stigmatize schools and create more of a problem. 

State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, says his bill, SB 6, would empower parents. They’d have more information about how their children’s schools are doing once their school gets an A through F grade based on standardized test scores.

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Texas Standard
1:37 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

How Texas Summers Inspired a Novel Change to the Water Balloon Fight

Check out the world's "only self-sealing water balloons."
Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.

“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.

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Texas
11:45 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Report: Health Commission Was Found to Be 'in Quiet Turmoil'

Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek whispers to an aide at a hearing of the Sunset Advisory Commission on Jan. 14, 2015.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Leadership problems at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the wake of a contracting scandal that resulted in forced resignations leave the agency too vulnerable to consolidate at this time, according to a report released Monday by Gov. Greg Abbott's handpicked "strike force."

The report found that too often decisions at the committee are reactive and that when the strike force team came to the agency in January, the agency found it "in quiet turmoil."

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Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Warning: Wildflower Picture Season is Also Snake Season

Pit vipers, like the rattlesnake, kill an average of one to two Texans every year. While not every snake is poisonous, doctors say that bite victims should always seek medical attention.
flickr.com/arcaist

For most Texans, spring time gives us a small window of opportunity to trek outside in some bearable weather. It's almost become a tradition for Texans to use this precious time to take photos in patches of bluebonnets. But just as we humans are beginning to shake off winter and go outside into the sun, so are are the snakes.

Anyone who's spent a significant time in the southwest can tell you, snake bites are a real danger. So what do you do if you encounter one?

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Texas Standard
2:44 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Kidnapped Texas Journalist Could Be In Negotiations For Release

flickr.com/enriquecespedes

It's no shock that the increased tension in the Middle East has made it tough for Western journalists to cover stories there. That trek didn’t deter Austin Tice, a former Marine from Houston turned freelance journalist, who went to Syria to cover the ongoing civil war. Now, Tice finds himself in trouble.

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Texas Standard
2:25 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Population Growth: Big Texas Keeps Getting Bigger

Via Pixabay

Texas has gotten used to topping lists about booming business and population growth. And while the headline of today’s Census Bureau data is all about Florida, don’t be fooled. Texas is still leading the way in a lot of areas.

“In a lot of cases, Texas leads a lot of the growth area statistics primarily because Texas itself is very, very large,” U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Branch Chief Ben Bolender says.

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2015 Legislature
9:32 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Texas Bill Would Ensure that Only Secretary of State Can Issue Marriage Licenses

A bill from State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) would give all power to grant marriage licenses to the Texas Secretary of State. A judge granted an order earlier this year that allowed a county clerk to issue a license to a same-sex couple.
Courtesy of Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant

On Wednesday, a panel of House lawmakers discussed a proposal to change how marriage licenses are issued in Texas, giving that power to one appointed official: the Secretary of State.

The bill comes after the Travis County clerk issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple last month, after being ordered to do so by a judge.

State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) says his bill would take away the ability of the state’s 254 county clerks to issue marriage licenses, instead giving that power only to the Secretary of State.

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Texas Standard
3:47 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Water Fight in Wimberley Could Have Statewide Implications

A sign in Wimberley protesting the Electro Purification plan.
Laura Rice/Texas Standard

About 60 percent of the water we use in Texas comes from aquifers – natural underground reservoirs that often aren’t easily replenished. In Hays County, aquifers have raised a critical question: Who has the right to draw from the Trinity Aquifer, how much they can draw – and can anyone stop them?

A private company based out of Houston – Electro Purification (EP) – plans to pump groundwater from around the city of Wimberley and pipe it to other thirsty communities. EP has contracts to pipe more than 5 million gallons of water a day from this part of the Trinity Aquifer through the year 2036.

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Energy & Environment
8:01 am
Sun March 22, 2015

Texans Can Expect Vibrant Spring Wildflowers, Expert Says, Though They May Arrive a Bit Late

Experts are anticipating a colorful wildflower season in Texas this year.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Experts say this wildflower season might be one of the best in years, but we’ll have to wait a little longer than usual to find out.

That's because a cooler-than-normal March has postponed the blooming season. 

Texas
10:22 am
Thu March 19, 2015

People From All Over Texas Travel To Houston's Sari Stores

There are more than a dozen sari stores along Houston's Hillcroft Avenue
Brenda Salinas/KUT

Farrah Akhtar says there's no such thing as getting a quick sari.

“No, no, no, you want to try everything on, then you need the jewelry, the shoes, and then you want to bargain, and then you might not be happy with the deal, so you’ll go somewhere else," Akhtar says.

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Texas
11:28 am
Wed March 18, 2015

To Prevent the Next Crisis, CPS Seeks 'Upstream' Solution

Joseph B/flickr

The challenges facing Child Protective Services in Texas are well known. The agency is underfunded and never seems to have enough personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children in its system.

But, this year, the agency did something different: CPS is looking for ways to prevent crises from happening in the first place.

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Texas
10:51 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Could Liability Insurance for Bars Curb Drunk Driving?

One thousand three hundred thirty-six Texans died in crashes caused by alcohol in 2013.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/ kevharb

This legislative session, Arlington Rep. Chris Turner pre-filed a bill that would hold bars responsible for the behavior of over-served customers, requiring all bars in the state carry minimum liability insurance.

While Turner’s bill may seem onerous to some bar owners, he argues his proposal to require bars to have insure bars would insulate owners from lawsuits and, ultimately, curb drunk driving.

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Affordable Care Act
9:20 am
Tue March 17, 2015

ACA Enrollment Period Extended for Those Who Were Uninsured in 2014

The federal government has allowed a special enrollment period through April 30, 2015 for certain people who faced a tax penalty on their 2014 tax return and are still uninsured.
KUT News

The signup period to buy an Obamacare plan for 2015 ended last month, but now, there’s a separate window to sign up for a very specific group of people.

Elizabeth Colvin, the director of nonprofit Insure Central Texas, which helps people with the health insurance application process, says this is only for people who are penalized on their 2014 tax return for being uninsured last year.

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Border & Immigration
8:10 am
Mon March 16, 2015

After Suicide Attempts, Advocates Draft Petition to End Immigrant Detention

A view of the Karnes County Detention Center shortly after its opening in July 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There's a new petition making the rounds through Texas and the United States.

Its goal is to end the incarceration of immigrant mothers and children. A catalyst for the petition was a recent wave of suicide attempts by some of the women in detention in facilities in Texas.

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Texas
1:14 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

TGI Pi Day: On Saturday, the Date and Time Align With Pi Out to Ten Digits

March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day.
Alex Cockroach/flickr

March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day – as in 3.1415. And, at 9:26:53 a.m., the date and time will align with the first ten digits of pi: 3.141592653.

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2015 Legislature
10:59 am
Fri March 13, 2015

'Marlise's Law' Would Let Stand Pregnant Women's End of Life Directives in Texas

Ernest Machado speaks at the Capitol on March 12, 2015 to shore up support for a bill that would remove the pregnancy exclusion from Texas law on end of life advanced directives.
KUT News

The case of Marlise Muñoz made national headlines when her family sued a Fort Worth hospital to take her off life support.

She was kept on machines for roughly two months, but doctors couldn’t remove her because she was pregnant. This case is now in the spotlight again, but this time at the Texas Capitol. 

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Affordable Care Act
10:26 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Texans Bring Call for Medicaid Expansion to Capitol Steps

At a rally for Medicaid expansion in Texas at the Capitol on March 12, 2015, pets participated, too.
KUT News

As the legislative session picks up steam, dozens of people from across the state came to a rally on the Capitol steps Thursday to show support for Medicaid expansion in Texas under the Affordable Care Act.

Speakers included Texas residents and business community leaders like the president of the Texas Hospital Association and chambers of commerce. 

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Texas
10:39 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Texas Ends Contract With Group That Has Run Alamo For More Than A Century

Members of the San Antonio Living History Association fire a volley as they take part in a Dawn at the Alamo memorial service at Alamo Plaza in San Antonio on March 6, 2006. Texas is taking back the landmark from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, which has run the Alamo for more than 100 years.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 3:17 pm

Texas is ending its contract with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to run the Alamo. The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that the move ends the organization's more than 100-year-long management of the landmark.

The change will help "create a bigger, brighter future for this Texas shrine," Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a joint statement with the DRT.

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Texas Standard
4:21 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Meet the Texan Who Traveled Overseas to Fight ISIS

Texan Patrick Maxwell on patrol with Kurdish security forces in 2014.

Wednesday was a fierce day of fighting in Iraq. The self-proclaimed Islamic State set off 21 car bombs in Ramadi as Iraqi forces gained ground in Tikrit, re-taking control of a military hospital there.

Back in the U.S., the debate continues about how best to deal with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But for some veterans the time for talk is over. Unknown numbers of American war vets have taken up with foreign fighters battling ISIS.

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