Texas

Texas
4:51 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Remembering Former Lawmaker Ray Farabee's Life of Service

Credit KUT

The Texas Capitol will take on a somber mood Friday, as friends and family take time to honor the life of Former Texas State Senator and KUT Board Member Kenneth "Ray" Farabee. A memorial will be held in the Senate chamber Friday, December 5 at 2 pm. Farabee died at his Austin home on November 20. He was 81.

Farabee was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the base of the High Plains.

But it was in Austin where he would make his mark, first as a leader in student government at the University of Texas at Austin and later in the Texas Senate.

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Wayback Wednesday
2:14 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Wayback Wednesday: Meet Sam, the First Austinite in Space

Credit NASA

Fifty-five years ago, on December 4th, 1959, the U.S. launched the Mercury spacecraft which contained a scared little rhesus monkey.

The silent news footage above chronicles the pre-launch preparations of that monkey, Sam, the third primate in space, who was born in 1957 at the Austin animal colony of the now-defunct Brooks Air Force Base -- his name was an acronym representing Brooks' School of Aviation and Medicine. Sam's flight was a test of the Mercury's launch escape system, a precursor to space capsule systems used in manned flight. On that fateful December morning in 1959, Sam went up on a small Little Joe rocket, soared 51 miles into the air and experienced three minutes of weightlessness before plummeting back down to earth. Unlike many early animal astronauts, Sam was retrieved safely several hours later by a U.S. Navy destroyer after landing in the Atlantic Ocean in a floating drum.

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Border & Immigration
1:35 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Gov. Perry Orders Most State Agencies To Use E-Verify For Checking Legal Status

Gov. Rick Perry and Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw address Texas-Mexico border operations at a press conference on Dec. 3, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ordering all state agencies under control of the governor's office to use E-Verify to check the residency status of employees and prospective employees. According to his office, 17 state agencies already use it. This announcement is something of a change of heart.

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Texas
11:03 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Appeals Court Halts Tonight's Execution of Texas Man Thought to be Mentally Ill

Credit TDCJ via Texas Tribune

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has halted tonight's scheduled execution of Scott Louis Panetti, who killed his wife's parents in Fredricksburg more than 20 years ago.

His attorneys argued his mental illness has worsened and he needs to undergo new mental competency tests because he's too delusional to understand why he's being punished.

Panetti represented himself at his trial and attempted to subpoena the Pope and Jesus. A group of prominent conservatives, including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli asked Governor Perry to intervene. 

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Affordable Care Act
7:23 am
Wed December 3, 2014

If You're Signing Up For An Obamacare Plan, Keep These Dates In Mind

In order to sign up for a 2015 plan on the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace, you need to sign up by Feb. 15, 2015.
healthcare.gov

Enrollment for plans on the health insurance exchange has started, but not many people know this.

"A recent Kaiser study reflected that less than 20 percent of those eligible to enroll in the marketplace exchange is aware that open enrollment is taking place today," says Jeff Hudson who works with UnitedHealthcare, one of the insurance providers on the marketplace in Texas this time around. "So it’s very important that you take the time to get connected, become aware and get enrolled by Feb. 15."

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Texas
1:08 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Efforts in Texas to Reach Minority Donors Grow as Transplant Waiting List Lengthens

A critical shortage of organ donors exists in Texas and across the U.S., especially minority organ donors.
Donate Life Texas

More than 120,000 people in the U.S. are awaiting an organ transplant, and of those, 13,000 live in Texas.

One Texas-based nonprofit is trying to educate people, particularly minorities, about the critical shortage of organ donors.

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Immigration Reform
9:02 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Do More Moderately Governed Cities Have Much Sway in Republican States Like Texas?

Long Beach, Calif., Mayor Robert Garcia, center, joins a group of mayors at the Austin Convention Center to speak out in support of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration on Nov. 21, 2014.
KUT News

When mayors from across the U.S. gathered in Austin last month for the National League of Cities annual convention, a group of them took time during the event to express support for President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

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Bastrop Wildfires
8:08 am
Mon December 1, 2014

New Culprit Threatens a Park's Rebirth Years After Fire

The Lost Pines Forest in Bastrop State Park, which was devastated by a fire in 2011.
Martin do Nascimento/Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Greenery has begun to cover the scars of a devastating fire that ripped through 32,000 acres of Central Texas three years ago. Feeding on tinder and trees withered from a searing drought, the Bastrop County Complex Fire burned for nine days, destroying more than 1,600 homes, before it was brought under control.

Also lost to the blaze was 96 percent of Bastrop State Park, a 6,565-acre home to the loblolly Lost Pines Forest and the endangered Houston toad.

As shrubs and seedlings have taken hold in the scorched park, however, park officials face a new quandary. An abundance of whitetail deer, they say, is threatening the new growth. Park officials will soon begin allowing the deer to be hunted, saying it is necessary if the park is to bounce back.

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Ferguson Decision
4:30 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

PHOTOS: UT Students March and Rally After Ferguson Decision

Students at The University of Texas at Austin participate in a march and rally following the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
Jenna VonHofe/KUT

The day after it was announced a grand jury had chosen not to indict the police officer who shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, University of Texas at Austin students held a march and a rally to protest the decision.

More protests are planned for tonight in Austin and other cities around the country.

Texas
9:02 am
Tue November 25, 2014

More DNA Testing Possible in Rodney Reed Case as January Execution Date Approaches

Reed's family says DNA tests would exonerate him of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites.
Credit flickr.com/home_of_chaos

UPDATE 11/26/14: Visiting judge Doug Shaver rejected a request Tuesday for additional DNA testing in Rodney Reed’s case.

Judge Shaver said the additional DNA testing would delay Reed’s execution. His execution date was moved from January to March 5th.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Texas court will hear testimony today about whether or not to allow DNA testing of additional evidence in the murder case of Rodney Reed. He was convicted in 1998 of the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites near Bastrop, Texas. Reed says he is innocent.

Some of Stites' family members are convinced law enforcement got the wrong man, and that law enforcement should look within their own ranks to find Stites' real killer.

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Same-Sex Marriage
4:26 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Texas Same-Sex Couples File Motion Asking Judge to Allow Gay Marriage

Two same-sex couples in Texas filed a motion on Nov. 24, 2014 asking a federal court to lift a stay on its ruling against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
flickr.com/madhausfrau

Two same-sex couples here in Texas are asking a federal court to lift a stay on its ruling against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage

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Affordable Care Act
11:10 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Why Obamacare Falls Short for Some Living With HIV, AIDS in Central Texas

L-R: Layne Box, Brad Franklin and Canaan Hoffmann participated in the AIDS Walk Austin on Oct. 19, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is a provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied insurance coverage, including people who are HIV positive.

Still, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t solved everything for HIV patients.

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Texas Standard
1:17 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Van de Putte Announces Campaign for San Antonio Mayor

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Following a punishing loss to Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick in the race for Lieutenant Governor, Leticia Van de Putte appears ready to run again - but not for her seat in the Senate.

The third generation San Antonian is ending speculation about her future by announcing her plans to campaign for the seat recently held by Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro: Mayor of San Antonio. Van de Putte says that the support she received from her hometown was what influenced her to run.

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Border & Immigration
12:54 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Executive Action on Immigration: The View from Texas

President Obama's likely announcement of an executive order to advance immigration reform could expand benefits for migrant workers, but Texas lawmakers at the legislature and in Congress could push back on the reforms.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Republicans in Washington and Texas are set to fight President Obama on his expected executive order on immigration. But how will the order affect life in the Lone Star State?

The biggest change would obviously be for the people who qualify for work permits the president is expected to announce tonight. Co-Director of the UT Law School Immigration Clinic Barbara Hines says not only will those people no longer live in fear of deportation, it should also improve their financial situation.

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Border & Immigration
6:45 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Dewhurst Says More DPS Officers Will Patrol Border as National Guard Goes Home

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said at a Nov. 19, 2014 Capitol press conference that the Texas National Guard will leave the Texas-Mexico border by next March or April.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says President Barack Obama's expected announcement tonight on immigration policy will do nothing more than encourage more people to try and come into Texas illegally. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst says that's why he supports boosting the number of law enforcement officers along the Texas-Mexico border.

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Affordable Care Act
7:26 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Health Policy Experts Explain the Affordable Care Act's Impact in Texas

L-R: Tim Eaton, Prof. Sam Richardson, Bee Moorhead and Rep. John Zerwas discussed the Affordable Care Act at KUT on Nov. 18, 2014.
Ben Philpott/KUT

A few days after the start of the second enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, a discussion took place at KUT on the health care law's implementation in Texas. Topics included what lawmakers considered in the 2013 legislative session to get the 1.5 million Texans who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap insured, how premiums shifted for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace in Texas, the people who make up Texas' high rate of the uninsured and what the chances are the 84th Legislature will take up this discussion in January.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:58 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Gay Marriage Campaign in Texas Points to Republicans for Support

Texas for Marriage is a new campaign from Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas that promotes support for same-sex marriage in Texas.
Texas for Marriage

Gay-rights advocacy organizations Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas are teaming up to build support for same sex marriage in Texas.

Their campaign is called Texas for Marriage. It’s a grassroots effort to get volunteers in Texas spreading support for same-sex marriage – including Republicans.

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Perry Indictment
4:57 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Judge Allows Perry Case to Go Forward, Overrules Objections Over Prosecutor's Oath

Governor Rick Perry addresses reporters outside a Travis County courtroom earlier this month.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The judge in the abuse of power case against Governor Rick Perry is overruling objections from Perry's legal team over the way the special prosecutor was sworn in. 

Perry's attorneys argued that special prosecutor Michael McCrum had not taken the oath of office and filed a required document in the proper way. The defense said because the oath wasn't done properly, McCrum was not authorized to act as prosecutor and everything he had done to this point -- including overseeing grand jury proceedings that produced the indictments against Perry -- were invalid.

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Texas
2:11 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Border Surge Could Continue Through August

Texas Department of Public Safety officers patrol Anzalduas Park as part of Operation Strong Safety.
Credit Julián Aguilar/Texas Tribune

The surge of state law enforcement on Texas’ southern border will continue through August if a request made by the state’s top leaders is approved next month by budget writers. 

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Energy & Environment
10:22 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Texas Grid Operator Says Clean Energy Plan Could Raise Bills and Lead to Blackouts

The agency in charge of running the state's energy grid says the EPA's plan to reduce carbon emissions could put strain on the grid and raise rates for consumers.
Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

The clean energy plan put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency aims to combat climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants.  But it may come at a price, according to a report released Monday by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the group that manages much of Texas electric grid.

The report says electricity bills could rise as much as 20 percent because of the carbon reduction goals, adding that the goals could also endanger electric reliability. Part of that is due to the way the plan would change Texas' energy mix.  

“What we found is that the likely impact of the clean power plan is going to be the retirement of a significant portion of the coal-fired capacity in ERCOT," says ERCOT Director of System Planning Warren Lasher.

The goal of the EPA’s clean energy plan is to reduce Texas carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

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