Texas

Texas
6:02 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Amended Pre-K Bill Approved by Senate, Will Return to House

The Senate approved a bill intended to improve the quality of Texas pre-K by implementing accountability measures and curriculum standards.
Jennifer Whitney/Texas Tribune

Governor Greg Abbott’s bill to improve pre-kindergarten got one step closer to his desk yesterday. The Texas Senate approved House Bill 4 in a 25-6 vote. The Texas House had already approved the bill before sending it to the Senate, but it still has a few more hurdles to jump through.

The bill puts $130 million dollars toward pre-K programs, but those programs would have to meet certain standards to receive the money, including teacher certification and curriculum standards.

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2015 Legislature
8:09 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Border Security Bill Divides Texas Senators Along Party Lines

The Texas Senate passed a bill on May 6, 2015 that would create an inter-state southern border compact to secure the border.
flickr.com/xomiele

On Wednesday, Texas Senators passed a bill (SB 1252) that would create an inter-state southern border compact — a group of states that would share resources to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the bill.

It didn't pass, however, before Democrats and Republicans brought up their differences on the need for border security. 

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Texas
7:39 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Travis County Teens Don't Talk Enough About Safe Sex, Report Says

The number of babies born to Texas teens is at lowest level in decades.
flickr via myloonyland

Teens in Travis County say they’re not getting taught about safe sex, and parents say they don’t know how to talk to their kids about it, according to a new report from the University of Texas and the Healthy Youth Partnership. [Read a PDF version of the report here.]

Travis County, and Texas as a whole,  have higher teen birth rates than the country overall, which the new report attributes to teens receiving misinformation about birth control, an embarrassment associated with buying condoms and peer pressure surrounding sex.

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2015 Legislature
9:54 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Bill Scaling Back Tuition Benefits for Texas Veterans Moves Forward

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed SB 1735, which would scale back free tuition benefits for Texas veterans.
KUT News

The Texas Senate has approved a bill, SB 1735,  that would scale back free tuition benefits given to some military veterans and their dependents. Lawmakers expanded eligibility for the law, known as the Hazlewood Act, in 2009, but under the new bill it would be scaled back again.

State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), a veteran himself, says he wrote the bill because public institutions can’t afford to cover everyone who qualifies, so the state has to cut back to save the program for future veterans.

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2015 Legislature
8:52 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Abortion Coverage Would Get Dropped Under Texas Bill

The Texas Senate passed a bill on May 5, 2015, that would eliminate abortion coverage from health insurance plans in Texas.
msjacoby/flickr

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate tentatively passed a bill that would prohibit abortion coverage under many health insurance plans. It could get final approval today.

The bill would only allow coverage for abortions in cases where there’s a medical emergency. State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) says his measure gives Texans who don’t support abortion the choice not to pay for others to get the procedure.

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Texas
2:49 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Could Cinco de Mayo Become an Official US Holiday?

This monument of General Ignacio Zaragoza is to the south of Goliad, one of the oldest towns in Texas. Zaragoza was the hero of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
mlhradio/flickr

As time goes by, the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo seems to be turning more into a Texas celebration. Sure, Texas used to be Mexico — and that's in part why there's a shared tradition. But some wonder if the tradition could become exclusive to Texas.

Hernan Jaso likes to claim Texas should have some exclusivity to Cinco de Mayo because, "General Ignacio Zaragoza was born in what is now Goliad, Texas."

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Texas
11:08 am
Tue May 5, 2015

House Approves Bill That Will Break Down Vaccination Exemption Data by School

Cooper Neill/Texas Tribune

The Texas House gave final approval Monday to a bill that would change how schools report how much of their student body is vaccinated. The bill passed, 98 to 40, but only after a loud and long debate.

Right now school districts anonymously collect data on how many kids are vaccinated and then report that data district-wide. Austin Independent School District has an overall vaccination exemption rate of 1.6 percent, for instance. The bill that passed out of the House Monday would break down the data for individual schools.

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Garland Shooting
6:45 am
Tue May 5, 2015

ISIS Claims Credit For Shooting In Garland, Texas

An FBI crime scene investigator documents evidence outside the Curtis Culwell Center on Monday in Garland, Texas.
Brandon Wade AP

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 10:05 am

The self-declared Islamic State is taking credit for a thwarted attack on a contest to draw the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas.

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Texas Standard
2:31 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

What the Battle Over Music Streaming is Really About

johanl/flickr

From Texas Standard:

Last year, music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify generated more revenue than CD sales. Musicians say they aren’t happy with how much they’re getting in return, especially now that streaming companies like Amazon, Google, and even NPR, have formed a lobbying group to try to lower the amount they pay to musicians. 

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Texas Standard
2:05 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Why Airports Are Getting Nicer While Planes Are Getting More Uncomfortable

skynoir/flickr

American Airlines recently unveiled its 787-8 Dreamliner. It carries 226 passengers, 198 of them in coach — and industry insiders have said if you’re not in first class, the airplane is uncomfortable for long trips. But the silver lining could be that when you get to the airport, you might almost mistake it for a shopping mall.

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Garland Shooting
10:31 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Garland Police: SWAT Team Officers Helped Kill 2 Gunmen Outside Cartoon Event

Officer Joe Harn, a Garland police spokesman, addressed reporters Monday morning.
Stella M. Chávez KERA News

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 7:33 pm

Garland police now say SWAT team officers were involved in the shooting that left two gunmen dead outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest Sunday night.

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Texas
7:41 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Abbott: State Officials Probing "Senseless" Attack

Gov. Abbott called the shooting in Garland during a contest to draw a picture of the Prophet Muhammed a "senseless attack."
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott said late Sunday that Texas officials are investigating a "senseless attack" in Garland that left two gunmen dead outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. 

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Texas
2:42 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

What the Heck is the Texas State Guard Anyway?

Maj. Gary Sherman, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, uses a compass to determine his bearing during a Land Navigation joint training exercise in Henrietta, Texas, October 11, 2014.
CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, 4th Regiment, TXSG

This week, a lesser-known unit of the Texas Military Forces got some attention when Governor Greg Abbott called on them to “monitor” U.S. military training exercises planned for this summer.

Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to ensure that Texans’ rights were not being infringed and help facilitate communication with residents during the exercises designated “Operation Jade Helm 15.” The operation is set to take place in Bastrop and several other locations across Texas and in some neighboring states between July 15 and September 15.

Exactly how that monitoring will be carried out is still unclear. When asked for details, the Governor’s office told us to call the Texas State Guard. In an email response, the Guard said “we are always ready to answer the call of the Governor and currently leadership from our Texas State Guard are in the process of examining the best way to meet the Governor's intent.”

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Texas Standard
12:08 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Is the Texas Economy Headed Towards a Recession?

85552770/flickr

From Texas Standard:

When a leading economist warned Texas that it should brace for a recession, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank wasn’t rattled. Then-President Richard Fisher said, if anything, the state might experience a downturn in economic growth. But here we are on the first day of May – after months of negative workforce and economic data. Dan Zehr with the Austin-American Statesman spoke with the Texas Standard to answer the question: Is the Texas economy in the middle of a recession?

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Texas
12:36 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Unlike Other Coming-of-Age Celebrations, Quinceañeras Remain Mostly Offline

Jennifer Santillan was born in the year 2000, meaning that this year she celebrated her Quinceañera.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

A lot was going on in the year 2000: Computer experts were trying to fix Y2K, and it was the first time a Latino artist topped the charts: Ricky Martin with the song "Livin' La Vida Loca."

It was also a big year for births: Nearly 400,000 girls were born to Hispanic parents that year. This year those girls are turning 15, and they'll be celebrating their Quinceañeras.

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Texas
1:10 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

International Group Aims to Help Children of Incarcerated Parents

Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

More than half of U.S. prison inmates are parents of children under 18 years old, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics from 2007. A new international group is looking to help the children of those incarcerated parents in the U.S. and abroad.

No matter the crime, children of those sent to jail are affected in big ways — often sharing the attitudes and behaviors of their imprisoned parents.

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Texas Standard
12:07 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Why Terlingua Doesn't Want Reality TV Cameras in Their Town

A National Geographic film crew has come to town.
jbparrott/flickr

Terlingua, a small town in Brewster County, West Texas, near the Rio Grande, used to be a mining town. Now it's mainly a tourist destination on the way to Big Bend — but pretty soon, Terlingua might attract a different kind of tourist.

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Texas
11:41 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Why SCOTUS' Hearing on Midazolam May Affect Texas Executions

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering today whether the lethal injection drug Midazolam, which is not currently used in Texas, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The drug has not been proven to deliver a pain-free execution experience.
Calif. Dep. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the three-drug combination used in Oklahoma executions.

At issue is whether the use of one of the drugs, Midazolam, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, since it is not proven to prevent the person being executed from feeling pain.

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Texas
1:58 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Abbott Orders Texas Guard to 'Monitor' Planned Military Exercises

Soldiers in a First Army Division West NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan team conduct convoy lanes training on North Fort Hood, Texas, July 20, 2012.
soldiersmediacenter/flickr

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor a two-month long U.S. military exercise scheduled to be held in Bastrop County this summer. The move comes amid suspicions from some residents (and the Internet) about the motivations behind the training.

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Texas Standard
5:15 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

APD Returns Rare, Stolen Guitar to Hill Country Musician

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this picture of police posing with Wilkins and his newly-returned guitar.
@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

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