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

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Most drownings are among those "preventable" tragedies. And yet, not everyone knows which precautions to take to prevent such accidents. In Texas alone, 73 kids died last year in the water. And adults are just as vulnerable. So, here are 3 tips to make your water gatherings more enjoyable.

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

Tuesday would have been the last day of operation for 10 clinics in Texas that provide abortion services. But on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of its final actions of this session, said the clinics can remain open while clinic lawyers ask the court for a full review of a strict abortion law.

Two dozen states have passed regulations similar to the ones being fought over in Texas.

Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

UPDATE Monday 1 p.m. A Texas State Senator is asking the Department of Justice to monitor and intervene, if necessary, in Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

The request comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion yesterday, saying some government officials could refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if they object on religious grounds.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

The first same-sex couple to get to the Travis County Clerk’s Office on Friday, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, was legally married over the weekend.

At their ceremony on Saturday, Lupe Garcia and Cindy Stocking seemed calm, as though they’d stood at the altar together before with Reverend Karen Thompson, but they were getting married for the first time.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

After the Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some county clerks around the U.S. began issuing licenses right away, including Travis County in Texas. Other counties held out, though, citing a need for updated forms that incorporated the new rule.

Those forms had been distributed by Monday, so more counties opened up marriage licenses to both same- and different-sex couples Monday morning. This is despite a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the Supreme Court's decision "lawless" and said that Texas county clerks could opt-out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples if it violates the clerk's religious beliefs. They'd still face lawsuits if they did so, he said, but the state would provide pro bono representation in those cases.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

One month ago, the Memorial Day Floods devastated many communities here in Central Texas, and today, the rebuilding continues.

How much officials can do is still limited, though, because the water hasn’t fully receded.

Local agencies are still searching for two children who went missing when the Blanco River flooded. The problem is that the water hasn’t receded enough to enable search teams to access all the areas.

KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the health insurance tax subsides in the case of King v. Burwell.

After much anticipation, the High Court ruled 6-3 this morning that people who received tax subsidies for health insurance premiums purchased on the federal exchange can keep them.

At issue in the case was whether four words in a section of the Affordable Care Act that deals with tax subsidies — "established by the state" — meant that only people who bought an Obamacare plan on a marketplace established by a state government can get a tax subsidy to help them pay for it. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

In Austin, the music industry generates almost $2 billion a year for the local economy, but some musicians say they’re lucky if they leave a gig with $5 in their pocket.

Fewer people are willing to pay cover charges to watch live music, but rent keeps rising in Austin.

As a result, a lot of musicians forego health insurance, and now some are worrying about how Austin will keep musicians here if they can’t afford basic expenses.


From Texas Standard:

The Environmental Protection Agency recently concluded that contamination of drinking water from fracking isn’t as widespread as previously feared. But is the panic over water contamination a thing of the past? A new study is re-igniting the fears of some.

The recent study checked the water quality at 550 wells across 13 Texas counties along the Barnett Shale. It’s one of the largest independent surveys on water near fracking sites ever conducted in the U.S., and the conclusions are alarming.

The Barnett Shale, a gas reservoir located near the Dallas-Forth Worth area, spans at least 17 counties. It’s believed to have more usable natural gas than any onshore oil field in the country. But the shale in the area has a reputation for being naturally hard to drill into, so it was largely untapped — until hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, came along.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas StandardNot all of the women and children that try to cross Texas’ Rio Grande Valley from Central America make it into the land of the free. Instead, they end up in one of three family detention centers that are used to house illegal immigrants. The centers are run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they currently hold about 2,000 women and children awaiting either release or deportation.

The detention centers are getting the spotlight in D.C., with calls to either improve or abolish the centers. Now eight Democratic lawmakers are making their way to privately run Texas detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley. Among the Texas contingent are Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) and Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio).

Court: Texas AG Cannot Halt Same-Sex Couple's Divorce

Jun 19, 2015
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: As Texas waits on the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage, the state's highest civil court ruled Friday that the Texas attorney general tried too late to stop the divorce of a Texas couple married in Massachusetts.

Five members of the Texas Supreme Court affirmed a 2011 opinion from the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals that said the attorney general's office did not have standing to appeal the divorce between Texas residents Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

A Collin County grand jury will hear a case against Attorney General Ken Paxton next month, according to a special prosecutor investigating whether Paxton has violated state securities law. 

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has backed Texas’ decision to forbid specialty license plates sporting an image of the Confederate flag, a ruling that could have national implications for how free speech protections apply to government services.

In a 5-4 ruling released Thursday morning, the court ruled that messages on license plates constitute "government speech," as the state of Texas had maintained in court filings and oral arguments.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule, possibly today, on a case that will decide whether tax subsidies for health insurance plans bought on the federal marketplace are legal.

If the court strikes down the subsidies, however, the matter of who decides what happens next in Texas remains murky. 

Photo via San Antonio Charter Moms/(CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

For more than 130 years, a mill has been a landmark of the Johnson City community. It’s served as a steam grist mill, cotton gin, feed mill and even a restaurant. But it was vacant for a while, until its latest tenant moved in: a science museum.