Texas

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

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From Texas Standard:

Undecided voters are no myth. So who are they?

Blanca Morales, like 84 million others, tuned in last week to watch the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But it didn’t help her decide who she’ll pick on Election Day. If anything, it complicated matters.

 


TDCJ via Texas Tribune

Six months after the Texas death chamber held its latest execution, Barney Ronald Fuller Jr. is set to die Wednesday for the 2003 shooting deaths of his neighbors in rural East Texas.

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From Texas Standard:

Lewisville, Lubbock, Sherman – just a handful of Texas cities where there will be gun shows this weekend. At any given time, nearly a half dozen cities across the state host weekend gun shows where sellers, buyers, and collectors congregate in what amounts to a firearms bazaar of sorts.

Criticism over these events focuses on a lack of universal background checks for purchasers. But law enforcement agents have been tracking some gun show patrons’ license plates.


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From Texas Standard:

Clowns: They're not just for circuses anymore.

Across cities throughout Texas and around the country, police and schools have been on lockdown and high alert over reports of people with a Bozo-like appearance making threats – usually on social media.

But these recent clown sightings aren't the first we’ve seen. In fact, they go back to at least 1981 in Boston and spread across the country. One theory claims that these clown sightings come in waves, mirroring the fears and uncertainties of American society at the time.

 


Texas Tribune

On any given day in the last six months, nearly a thousand of Texas' "highest-priority" children — considered by the state to be at immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse — were not checked on even once by Child Protective Services investigators.

Another 1,800 of those kids were seen by investigators, but not within the required 24-hour window following an urgent report of possible abuse or mistreatment.

Left: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)/Right: Third Way Think (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It used to be that people concerned about the state of political coverage in America worried about the constant obsession with who's ahead.

This year, both sides are fixated with landing the nastiest punch, one blow that will decisively take out the other. It almost happened in 1988, during the Vice Presidential debate when Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat, quipped to his Republican rival, Sen. Dan Quayle of Virginia: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

 


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From Texas Standard:

It all started with a battle over information: In one corner was the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In the other were Texas lawmakers.

The commission holds the details of the state’s Medicaid contracts with large pharmaceutical companies, which show how much the state is spending on medicine. The commission assured lawmakers the state is getting a good deal, but the legislators wanted to see for themselves. In particular, they wanted to know the amount the state was getting back in rebates for name-brand medicine.

 


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From Texas Standard:

In 2001, Jonas Koffler was working for a tech startup in Austin. He was 26 years old, ambitious, and climbing the company ladder by working over 70 hours a week. He'd work around the clock, taking cat naps rather than logging a full night's sleep.

He was happy to do it, too. His hard work, it seemed, was getting results. And then – suddenly – everything stopped. One moment he was giving a presentation; the next, he was in a hospital. He'd had a stroke. The doctors told him that the stress and overexertion from his work may have helped cause it.

 


This Texas Dance Hall Needs to Raise a (New) Roof

Oct 3, 2016
Leah Scarpelli/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Driving through a beautiful expanse of Texas Hill Country on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I pull off Highway 281 somewhere between San Antonio and Johnson City. I hear the Twin Sisters Dance Hall before I actually see it.

Twin Sisters Hall Club President Jo Nell Haas loves it here. This day’s all about raising money for a place she’s been going to her whole life.

 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Texas has officially withdrawn from the federal Refugee Resettlement Program.

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From Texas Standard:

We often talk about our favorite barbecue joints in Texas, but of all the characteristics we use to label our favorites, we're hard pressed to mention one without a closed sign.

But Sonny Bryan’s 24-hour smokehouse in Dallas changed their hours in May.

Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn says the now round-the-clock barbecue joint used to have hours more typical of famed barbecue joints.

 


Courtesy Simon & Schuster

From Texas Standard:

Wolf Boys” explores how a couple of Texas teenagers went from playing under the Friday night lights to working as assassins for Los Zetas, one of Mexico's most dangerous drug cartels.

The book reads like fiction, but it's a true story written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Slater.


Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The $800 million border security operation passed by state lawmakers has helped seal off parts of the state’s southern border. But the surge has also made the rest of the area more of a hotbed for illegal activity, the state’s top law enforcement officer told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Rick Perry did not survive to dance another day.

The former Texas governor was eliminated from the ABC program “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday night. 

Courtesy Ballet Austin

From Texas Standard:

Few parents put pen to paper to figure out how much they'll spend if their kids end up loving the activity they started at age three. For example, by the time your adorable toddler girl – who’s in love with ballet – graduates high school you will have spent as much as $100,000 on fees, tutus and training. That's according to an estimate by Dance USA.

If your daughter goes pro – her training could be as expensive as a doctor's. But ballet is not just for girls. Boys spend much less on a lifetime of ballet training.

 


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From Texas Standard:

Texas began a strategic plan to reform the foster care system in 2014, but the overhaul is still in the early stages of rollout. The plan has been moving forward without much fanfare, at a time when Child Protective Services is taking a lot of heat for some high-profile tragedies.

The biggest change is a shift away from investigation efforts – the CPS worker who comes knocking on the door asking questions – to a public heath approach aimed at strengthening families and reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities.

The plan puts a heavy emphasis on the staggering cost of child abuse and the need to be smarter about resources – to use big data as never before. 

 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Political wonks and reporters converged on the University of Texas at Austin campus for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival and your favorite daily Texas news show was there. We spoke to mayors and former mayors from around the state, political figureheads, and two of this year's third-party presidential candidates.

Brett Buchanan/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

With his cowboy hat and boots in a suit, few Texas politicians cut the figure Sid Miller does. Part of his job is being de facto ambassador, promoting Texas-made food and the like.

But when an investigation by the Houston Chronicle alleged Miller's trips to Oklahoma and Mississippi – paid for by state and campaign money – weren't all business, the Texas Rangers stepped in to investigate.

 


via Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is resigning in January, she said in a statement Monday. 

The 11-term state representative said her resignation was a result of health issues related to a 2013 car accident and concerns over caring for her 9-year-old daughter. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

This story is part of the NPR project "A Nation Engaged," which takes a deeper look at economic opportunity in 21st century America. 

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