Texas

Texas
10:47 am
Wed March 16, 2011

Texas Will Switch Execution Drug Amid Shortage

Photo via Flickr user Andres Rueda.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced today that it will change one of the drugs in the three-drug cocktail used in executions in the state.

The drug sodium thiopental has been in short supply ever since the only U.S. manufacturers of the drug stopped production.

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Texas
3:24 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

Perry, House Reach Rainy Day Fund Deal

State leaders agree on tapping some of the Rainy Day fund to get the state's budget through August.
Image by KUT News.

Governor Rick Perry and House leadership have struck a deal that would use $3.2 billion from the so-called "Rainy Day Fund" to help close the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year.

In a joint statement by the governor, House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) and Comptroller Susan Combs, the remainder of the budget gap would be closed by $800 million in cuts and by using an additional $300 million that's come from increased state sales tax collections over the past few months.

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Texas
4:58 pm
Mon March 14, 2011

$300 Million More in State Coffers

State Comptroller Susan Combs told lawmakers Monday that the Texas wallet is a little greener than first thought.
Image by KUT News

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says the state has more money to spend. 

In a letter to Texas lawmakers today, Combs says sales tax receipts in recent months had increased enough for her to raise her pervious revenue estimate by 300-million dollars for the current budget.  She also increased the amount of money lawmakers have to spend in the next budget. 

The increase helps a little but does not make a huge dent in the multi-billion dollar budget hole.

Texas
2:21 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Texas, 37 States Announce Settlement with AstraZeneca

Texas and 36 states led to a $68.5 million settlement with AstraZeneca with its unlawful marketing practices.
Nathan Bernier, KUT

Texas and 37 states’ regulators announced today their $68.5 million settlement with AstraZeneca, a British global pharmaceutical company, over its unlawful marketing practices. Texas is expected to receive $3.8 million.

The states charged AstraZeneca with marketing the antipsychotic drug Seroquel for improper uses unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Generally, pharmaceutical manufacturers are not allowed to promote any products without FDA’s approval.

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Texas
12:34 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Austin Jobless Rate Creeps Up

A bump in Austin unemployment will send more job seekers in search of Texas Workforce Commission help.
Image by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

January unemployment numbers for Texas remained essentially unchanged from December.  But the non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Central Texas crept up 0.4%.  That rate stands at 7.3%, much of the rise attributed to the end of extra hiring for the holidays. Lisa Givens is a spokesperson with the Texas Workforce Commission.

"We did see a loss of 10,100 jobs, and that's in line with prior years' seasonal fluctuation we've seen historically," said Lisa Givens, a spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission.

Texas
4:51 pm
Tue March 8, 2011

Texas Peace Officers Memorial Hopes to Get a Facelift

You'll find the Texas Peace Officers Memorial, located on the northeast part of the Capitol.  You'll also find it's in need of repairs. The memorial is dedicated to law enforcement officers and corrections personnel in the state of Texas who've died in the line of duty.

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Texas
4:41 pm
Mon March 7, 2011

Top Texas Ranger To Retire

Antonio "Tony" Leal was the first Hispanic to lead the Texas Rangers.
Image courtesy Texas Rangers

The first Hispanic to lead the Texas Rangers is retiring at the end of this month. 47-year-old Antonio “Tony” Leal is leaving to work in the private sector. He was appointed as Chief Texas Ranger in 2008.

Here's the full news release from the Texas Rangers:

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Texas
11:13 am
Mon March 7, 2011

SCOTUS: Texas Death Row Inmate Can Pursue Civil Rights Claim

Henry Watkins Skinner was convicted of the murders of Twila Busby and her two sons in 1995.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate who is seeking to have DNA evidence in his murder case tested.  The court's decision means Hank Skinner won't be executed any time soon.

At issue in the case was not whether the DNA should be tested, but rather what procedures can be used in asking a court to order the testing.  Skinner's lawyers argued their client has a right to pursue a civil rights claim for the testing.

The decision reverses an appeals court ruling, and sending the case back to district court in Amarillo.

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Texas
9:01 am
Sun March 6, 2011

Your Sunday Cup O' Joe (AKA the Sunday News Brief for March 6,2011)

Coffee, Coffee...Buzz, Buzz
Picture by KUT News

Make sure to get outside today.  Sure it's a little cold this morning.  But yesterday's strong winds are gone and we'll get into the lower 70's today.  But before you head out...here's some info on what's been going on in Texas to start your day:

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Texas
4:43 pm
Sat March 5, 2011

Texans Celebrate State Independence

People with the Texas Nationalist Movement rallied at the State Capitol Saturday for Texas to withdrawl from the United States. Several Texas Independence celebration events took place over the weekend.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

Texas flags paraded up Congress Avenue Saturday morning to celebrate the state's independence. The Texian Legacy  Association hosted the parade and 5K run.

On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico just a few days before the Mexican army under Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna advanced on the Alamo in San Antonio.  On March 5, Col. William Travis leading the Alamo defenders made his famous "line in the sand."

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Texas
4:24 pm
Fri March 4, 2011

Maj. Hassan's Court Marshall Authorized to Consider Capital Punishment

A courtroom sketch from one of Hasan's hearings
Sketch by Pat Lopez

Brigade commander Col. Morgan Lamb has recommended a court-martial and the death penalty for the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shootings. Maj. Nidal Hasan has been charged on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Lamb's recommendation comes after a similar one made last fall by another colonel who presided over Hasan's evidentiary hearing.

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Texas
8:56 am
Tue March 1, 2011

Mexico Spring Break Warnings: The 2011 Edition

The DPS has released its annual "Don't Go To Mexico" campaign.
Map courtesy Google Maps

Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano...the middle of March in Texas sees the migration of college students to the coast for some fun,  sun and relaxation during spring break.  One other yearly tradition is the Department of Public Safety warning the young partiers to keep it all north of the boarder border.

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Texas
12:08 pm
Mon February 28, 2011

Windy Conditions Heighten Fire Danger

Texas forestry officials warn that high winds and low humidity could make wildfires harder to control today.
Photo by KUT News

Breezy, dry conditions are setting up increased fire danger across Central Texas.  The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the region through 4:00 p.m. today.

Sunday, windswept wildfires in West Texas scorched a total of 120,000 acres, destroyed at least 80 homes and resulted in the death of one person.

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Texas
12:58 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

Saudi Resident Arrested in Lubbock

FBI agents arrested a 20-year orld Saudi Arabia citizen in Lubbock Wednesday afternoon.
Image Courtesy of Jason Lawrence http://www.flickr.com/photos/27665395@N05/3559722809/

A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student residing in Lubbock was arrested late Wednesday and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The Justice Department says Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a student at South Plains College, was accused of purchasing chemicals to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and conducting online research of potential targets inside the United States.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

House Committee Holds Sonogram Bill Hearing

The House State Affairs Committee is hearing testimony on the sonogram bill.
Photo Courtesy of KUT News

The House State Affairs Committee is taking invited testimony on a bill that would require women considering an abortion to receive a sonogram and have a doctor explain what they're seeing.

The bill, authored by Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), is similar to a bill already passed by the Senate. 

Becky Turner, a woman who had an abortion over 25 years ago, agrees with the bill.

"I'm hoping that you guys also consider it important and valuable enough to tell others, what's inside the womb. Because we can't see it," Turner said.

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Texas
3:39 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

"Double-Dipping" Bill Filed in Legislature

A Fort Worth Republican lawmaker proposes bill aimed at tightening some campaign spending rules.
Image by KUT News

State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), filed today an bill that takes aim at double-dipping by  Texas politicians.

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Top Stories
8:58 am
Mon February 21, 2011

Top Morning Stories for February 21, 2011

Courtesy the Texas Tribune.

TT/UT Poll: Texans Want Budget Cuts, But Unsure Where to Cut

A new poll from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas finds that most Texas voters back spending cuts as a way to balance the state's budget in the next biennium. But voters are divided when it comes to identifying what specific programs they would cut.

From the Tribune's write-up:

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Texas, Census
3:48 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Census Data Breakdown from the Texas Tribune

Image courtesy of the US Census Bureau

Our good friends and political reporting partners, The Texas Tribune, have started breaking down the U.S. Census data released today.  

The new numbers show the Hispanic population in Texas increased by 42 percent since 2000, and the group now makes up 38 percent of the population.

Texas’ population is now 25,145,561. That's a 4,293,741 increase from 2000’s figure, a 20.6 percent change.

Governor's Mansion
2:35 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

DPS Releases New Details of Governor's Mansion Suspects

Texas DPS released these sketches of the man that investigators believe threw the cocktail that set the Governor's Mansion on fire. Investigators says this vehicle was seen four days before fire taking pictures of the building.
Courtest of Texas DPS

Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety are looking for three "persons of interest" and one suspect in their ongoing investigation into the 2008 the Governor's Mansion arson.  A sketch of a potential suspect and new video has been released.

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Texas
2:37 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Texas Grid Operator Updates List of Plant Failures

ERCOT released an updated list of power plants that failed, leading to rolling blackouts February 2.
Image by KUT News

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas continue to identify more power plants that went offline during the power emergency that struck the state two weeks ago. Normally, details on plant failures would be confidential for 60 days, because of market rules set up by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.  But ERCOT has asked power generators to agree to a waiver of that period. 

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