Texas

Perry Indictment
7:51 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Perry's Lawyers Say His Veto Aimed to Uphold the "Rule of Law"

Perry's legal team is comprised of David Botsford, Tony Buzbee, Ben Ginsberg and Bobby Birchfield.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry's legal team made their debut yesterday in a press conference. The collective of high-profile lawyers – which includes alums of the 2000 Bush-Gore recount lawsuit, a multi-jurisdictional workers’ rights case against BP and a former Texas Supreme Court Justice – came out defending the governor’s veto of funding to the state’s Public Integrity Unit.

The team also continued to focus attention away from the two felony charges he faces, insisting that Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg deserved to be removed from office after her arrest and conviction on drunken driving charges, and that the governor was acting in the state’s best interest.

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Perry Indictment
4:13 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

What Exactly is Governor Rick Perry Charged With?

During a press conference at the State Capitol Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT Austin

Scandals involving governors usually have a bit more meat to them than the one going down in Texas right now.

In Illinois in 2010, former Governor Rod Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps trying to use a vacant U.S. Senate seat for personal gain. He’s now serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison. Right now in Virginia, former Governor Bob McDonnell is facing federal charges of corruption for allegedly taking illegal gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company. But with the felony charges against Texas Governor Rick Perry, there’s very little the public knows yet, and that’s led to some confusion.

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Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Texas Mineral Water So 'Crazy' it Comes in Different Strengths

Sunrise at Lake Mineral Wells State Park in Mineral Wells, Texas. The mineral-rich water in the area is renowned for its properties – and now it's being bottled.
flickr.com/dennisbehm

Anytime people talk about Texas and food, the usual suspects come up. (Brisket anyone?) Texas Standard is taking the road less traveled, in search of some uniquely Texas provisions worth discovering.

Bryan Black is our guide. Each month he shares something new from the pantries of the Texas Department of Agriculture with the Standard. This month: Crazy Water, bottled in the town of Mineral Wells, where the water is renowned for its rich, naturally-occurring mineral deposits.

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Perry Indictment
11:15 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Here's What You Need to Know About Gov. Perry's Indictment

Governor Rick Perry at a press conference on August 16, 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

On Friday, special prosecutor Michael McCrum announced a Travis County grand jury decided to indict the Texas’ longest serving governor, with two felonies – one charge of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

When Gov. Rick Perry makes his first appearance in court (at a date to be determined) he will have the charges read to him, but likely won’t face booking in the Travis County Jail, fingerprinting or a mugshot.

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Perry Indictment
8:04 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Meet James "Pa" Ferguson, the First Texas Governor to Face an Indictment

James "Pa"Ferguson was impeached in his second term after vetoing the University of Texas' entire budget.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

James “Pa” Ferguson was the 26th governor of Texas. He was the first and, for 97 years, was the only sitting Texas governor to have charges brought before him.

The indictment of Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts has many invoking Pa Ferguson’s name and, while there are similarities in the accusations leveled against them – both were accused of withholding state money for political reasons – that’s where most of the similarities end.

KUT’s Jennifer Stayton spoke with Executive Director of the Briscoe Center for American History at U.T.-Austin Don Carleton about Ferguson’s indictment, his demeanor as governor and the similarities and differences in the charges faced by both governors.

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Mental Health
4:26 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

More People Getting Access to Mental Health Care After Boost in State Spending

A panel of Texas senators received an update Aug. 15, 2014 on what's being accomplished in mental health services after a boost in state spending approved by the 83rd Legislature in 2013.
Liang Shi for KUT

Texas is spending more money on mental health now than it has in more than a decade, and today, state lawmakers got to hear about what that money is accomplishing.

Some of the numbers on mental health services in Texas have lawmakers patting themselves on the back.

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Border & Immigration
7:34 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Texas National Guard Troops Have Arrived in the Rio Grande Valley

Texas National Guard troops arrived in the Rio Grande Valley yesterday. Gov. Perry addressed some of those troops at Camp Swift near Bastrop on Aug. 12, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Almost four weeks after Gov. Rick Perry said he was deploying the National Guard to the border, the first wave of soldiers has started setting up at observation posts. Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge, which connects McAllen and Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico near Matamoros.

Perry announced in July he would send up to 1,000 members of the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border, on top of extra state troopers he already ordered there from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Perry says the National Guard will serve as extra eyes, reporting suspicious activity to authorities.

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Affordable Care Act
10:46 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Although Texas Leaders Aren't Expanding Medicaid, Enrollment Numbers Slated to Jump

On Aug. 14, 2014, ahead of the next legislative session, state senators talked about one of the most politically divisive federal programs, Medicaid.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ahead of the next legislative session, state senators are talking about one of the most politically divisive federal programs – Medicaid. Or more specifically, how to avoid expanding Medicaid eligibility in Texas and still get more people insured.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Texas has at least two options for insuring more people. One is expanding Medicaid eligibility in Texas. The state’s Republican leadership doesn’t support that option.

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Border & Immigration
8:49 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Gov. Perry Visits National Guard Troops Ahead of Border Deployment

Perry visited Camp Swift to address the Texas National Guard troops who have volunteered to deploy to the Texas-Mexico border in order to support the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry visited Camp Swift yesterday ahead of his deployment of National Guard troops and Department of Public Safety troopers to the border.

The aim of the operation – dubbed “Operation Strong Safety” – is to use troops to supplement border patrols, prevent illegal border crossings and assist federal and state authorities struggling to process an influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border from Central American countries.

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Assisted Living
7:16 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Texas Lawmakers Push to Close the Austin State Supported Living Center

The Sunset Advisory Commission suggested closing the doors of the Austin State-Supported Living Center yesterday.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Yesterday, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended closure for the Austin State Supported Living Center and five other similar centers among the 13 across the state that care for physically and cognitively disabled Texans.

While some residents have lived in these homes for decades and know no other home, lawmakers cite a history of abuse and neglect, waning enrollment numbers and a statewide shift to community-supported models in arguments to shutter the homes.

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HB2
5:30 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

After Closing Arguments in Case Against Texas' Abortion Law, Parties Await Ruling

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel heard closing arguments in a case against the newest Texas abortion law on Aug. 13, 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Abortion clinics in Texas have until Sept. 1 to meet the standards of hospital-style surgical centers. Providers say that will force all but a handful of clinics in Texas to close down. Today, a federal judge in Austin heard closing arguments for and against certain provisions in the state's newest abortion law.

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Immigration
9:59 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Texas Accounts For 16 Percent of Children Seeking Asylum Under Controversial Law

Volunteers at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have recently crossed into the U.S.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Two years ago, the Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

It provides temporary legal status to young people brought to the U.S. illegally, but two years in, some estimates say only about half of people eligible for the program have applied.

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Medicaid
8:30 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Feds: Texas Responsible for Misspent Medicaid Dollars

A federal audit found the 3,000 percent increase in dental payments from 2003 to 2010 was ultimately Texas' responsibility.
photo illustration by: Peter Skadberg/Todd Wiseman

Texas is “ultimately responsible” for millions of misspent Medicaid dollars, according to a new federal audit, because a state agency failed to properly oversee the contractor that reviewed the medical necessity of Medicaid claims.

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Aging
9:05 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Older Job Seekers in Texas Struggle to Find Jobs, But Find Strength in Numbers

Nancy Ruiz gets her photo taken for her LinkedIn profile at a meeting of the Launch Pad job club in Austin on Aug. 6, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Baby boomers have dominated the work force for decades, but now they’re fighting to stay in it as they live longer and can’t afford to live off of their savings in retirement.

Older job seekers have a hard time finding jobs – even in Austin.  Experts, however, say the growing aging population is one reason for hope.

Take Bill Hodges – he waited until the age of 57 to move to Austin, with no job prospects and dreams of a new life.

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Patrick & Van de Putte
10:11 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Lt. Gov. Candidates Appeal to Media at Broadcasters Meeting

State Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, will face off against each other in the general election for lieutenant governor.
Jennifer Whitney / Michael Stravato / Texas Tribune

State Senators Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic and Republican  candidates for Lieutenant Governor, spoke yesterday at the Texas Association of Broadcasters' annual convention here in Austin.

The two had similar talking points – both touted their business-friendly credentials. But they didn’t meet, and one candidate implored media leaders to push the other into agreeing to debates ahead of the November election.

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HB2
5:12 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Texas Abortion Law Trial Almost Over, But Both Sides Ready For Step Two

A federal trial against Texas’ newest abortion law, HB2, wraps up on Aug. 7, 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Update (5:07 p.m.): U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel has scheduled closing arguments in a federal trial against the state's newest abortion law for next Wednesday, Aug. 13, in the morning, after witness testimony concluded today.

The plaintiffs hope Judge Yeakel will strike down a provision that requires abortions only take place at ambulatory surgical centers. And that the provision requiring doctors to receive admitting privileges at  hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform the procedure will be struck down for physicians in El Paso and McAllen.

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Criminal Justice
8:23 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Why Spending on Peer Support Groups in Texas Jails Could Reduce Recidivism Rates

A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests if Texas spends more money on peer support groups in county jails, the recidivism rate would drop.
Michael Stravato/Texas Tribune

The start of the next Texas legislative session is getting close enough that advocacy groups are urging support for their areas of interest. Today, a local organization released a report [click here for the PDF]  that suggests if the state spends more money on peer support groups in county jails, the recidivism rate would drop.

In recent years, law enforcement in Texas has been vocal about county jails serving as de facto mental health providers for inmates.

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Texas
12:55 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Legislature Considering Changes To Texas Driver Responsibility Program

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:01 am

The Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety is considering legislation for the 2015 session that would completely revamp the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.  

The program allows the Department of Public Safety to assess surcharges on traffic tickets on top of the fine and court cost. DPS notifies the drivers via mail through a private contractor, the Municipal Service Bureau or MSB.

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Border & Immigration
10:59 am
Wed August 6, 2014

A Private Prison Group Runs Texas' New Immigrant Detention Center

Cameras monitor every area of the Karnes City immigrant facility, managed by GEO Group, but officials say residents have freedom of movement within the locked facility.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Texas’ newest detention center for immigrant children and mothers opened last week in Karnes City, just 54 miles outside of San Antonio. But less than a week out, the facility’s already garnering scorn from immigration attorneys in Austin.

Those attorneys – the same ones who helped shut down the troubled T. Don Hutto detention center north of Austin in 2009 – take umbrage with the fact that the Karnes facility is run by the GEO Group, a for-profit company with a less-than-impeccable reputation.

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Border & Immigration
10:30 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Texas Lawmakers Keep Questions on Border Security Operations Front & Center

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, chair of the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, listens to testimony on Aug. 5, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry's border security surge was under the microscope at the Texas Capitol Tuesday. In two separate meetings, lawmakers tried to get a handle on how much money was being spent, and what the money was being spent on.

Gov. Perry’s office has identified a source for $38 million dollars in state funding that are going towards a deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops and an increase in Department of Public Safety officers in South Texas.

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