Texas

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

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

in 46 states, texting while driving is illegal. But not in Texas. It appears that could change on Tuesday. Though many cities in Texas ban using smartphones while driving, a bill is en route to the governor's desk that specifically outlaws texting while driving. But your apps and GPS might still be within legal reach.

KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

The 2011 Texas voter ID law was one of the strictest such laws in the nation. It required Texans to show one of seven approved forms of photo identification to vote.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate Sunday night approved a bill that would both simplify the formulas for funding public schools and allow parents of kids with disabilities to take state money to leave the public system for private schools or homeschooling.

Senators voted 21-10 to approve House Bill 21, which the House originally intended to reform a complicated system for allocating money to public schools and to provide a funding boost for most public schools.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The end may be near for straight-ticket voting in Texas. House Bill 25, which would ban the practice, passed out of the Senate on Thursday. It's got one more stop in the lower chamber before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Prominent Democrats are decrying the bill – saying it would dilute Democratic votes.

dallashabitatphotos/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On its current path, the Dallas police and fire pension fund would run out of money in 10 years, leaving thousands of public safety pensioners in the lurch.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This may be the most anxious time of year for affordable-housing developers in Texas. In a few weeks, they'll find out whether their applications for low-income housing tax credits have been approved, and the decision could spell life or death for their proposed projects.

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The Texas House on Thursday passed a package of sweeping measures aimed at addressing a crisis in the state's child welfare system.

After a lengthy debate, the House passed Senate Bill 11, a measure that would have Texas shift to a "community-based care" model for handling some endangered children and allowing contracted organizations — not just the resources-strapped state — to monitor children in foster care and adoptive homes.

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From Texas Standard:

Each legislative session, there are bills that grab the spotlight and then those that move through far more quietly, but still have the potential to affect a lot of lives. That may be the case this session for Senate Bill 715.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Texas Senators have approved a bill that creates statewide regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. House Bill 100 would preempt regulations on the so-called transportation network companies in cities like Austin. The Senate passed the bill on a 21-9 vote.

Pat Jones Photography/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

It was May 17, 2015, shortly after noon in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. Little is known about what started it. Some say it was a fight over a parking space that led to a patron’s foot being run over. And suddenly in the mix – a flurry of gunfire.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Some Texas Democrats in Washington are suggesting a Trump impeachment. U.S. Rep. Al Green of Houston was the first to call for the president's impeachment on Monday. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, also of Houston, and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville have said it is a possibility.

Texas Republicans, meanwhile, are either waiting to weigh in or are silent.

Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, accused of misleading a former client who invested in a company in which Uresti has a financial stake, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 charges over his involvement in the alleged investment Ponzi scheme, one of two separate indictments issued Tuesday. 

Luis Antonio García Sepúlveda/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

You may not have known him, but many thousands have relied on his reports for decades, covering drug cartels and organized crime. Award-winning reporter Javier Valdez was gunned down in the middle of the day in Sinaloa, Mexico, becoming at least the sixth journalist killed in that country since March.

Some fear that the attacks on journalists could lead to a de facto information blackout.

Kremlin.ru (CC BY 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Officials with the State Department say the Syrian government has constructed, and is using a crematorium at a military prison. Just a few hours later, the Washington Post broke the news that President Donald Trump revealed classified information when he met with Russian officials last week in the Oval Office.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0

From Texas Standard:

The talk of Washington is still centered on the news from last week that President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump cited Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as the reason for his dismissal, but others are worried that the firing may have had something to do with the agency's investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign, during the election.

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From Texas Standard:

Mosquito season is looming large in Texas, and with it, renewed fears of mosquito-borne illnesses. Several Zika cases have already been reported this year in the Rio Grande Valley.

CSIS

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing arguments Monday in Seattle on whether President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban is a form of religious discrimination. The revised order limits travel from six, instead of seven Middle Eastern countries. Iraq is no longer included on the list thanks to the efforts of Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the former inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

There's a fight looming at the Texas Legislature: how to balance the state budget for the next two years.

The Texas House's version of the budget pulls $2.5 billion from the state's savings account, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund, or Rainy Day, Fund.  Right now, there's more than $10 billion in that reserve.

The Senate, though, says it doesn't want to pull out any of that money.

But before that debate heats up, we got to wondering how all that money got there in the first place.

Image Courtesy ice.gov.

From Texas Standard:

Judges are no longer hearing cases at the family immigration detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas. That's because, according to officials, the judges didn't have much to do.

Laura Skelding / Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is on the short list to succeed James Comey as FBI director, according to a White House official. 

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