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

Eddie Seal/Texas Tribune

A bill that would override local fracking bans in Texas was approved by members of the House, after several hours of debate. 

The bill is aimed at blocking cities from banning activities like hydraulic fracturing. Last year, voters in the city of Denton approved a ban on fracking in their city limits.

State Rep. Drew Darby, a Republican from San Angelo and the bill's author, says it’s intended to preserve the state government’s right to regulate oil and gas activity.


This story comes from Texas Standard.

Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?

Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.

On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:

“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Looking to clear the Texas Department of Public Safety's name, the agency’s top official is asking the head of the state's anti-corruption unit to renew a halted investigation into $20 million no-bid border security contracts.

Sarah Montgomery for KUT

Today, the Senate won’t vote on a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students, known as the Texas DREAM Act. The bill from New Braunfels Sen. Donna Campbell seemed to have enough support for a floor vote yesterday, but the bill was taken off the chamber’s intent calendar today.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

When Marlise Muñoz was hospitalized in 2013 with a pulmonary embolism, she was 14 weeks pregnant. Though she had told her family that she never wanted to be on life support, doctors at a Fort Worth hospital kept her on life support until a judge ruled that because she was brain dead, the medical team could take her off of the machines.

Brenda Salinas

From Texas Standard:

As the demand for natural burials grows, industry experts say innovation is likely to come from Houston.

Alain Stephens

Jo Ivester joins Texas Standard to talk about life in Mount Bayou, Mississippi, and what she learned through her mother’s work.

Simon Crow/Colchester 101 Magazine

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Steven Walker has thick-rimmed glasses and full beard. He’s wearing a pearl snap shirt with a Western pattern sewn on the pockets. He looks right at home in artsy East Austin.

“People are shocked when they come in and they see all these amazing American artists on the wall and then the guy in the beard and the cowboy shirt comes up to them and says, ‘yuh alright?’ (in a British accent). It is a bit weird for them I guess,” Walker says.

Walker’s journey to Texas wasn’t direct.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Almost 100 years after the day it opened, the Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC), a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities, is scheduled to close in 2017.

The Legislature's Sunset Commission ordered its closure during the last legislative session. But the order still needed legislative approval.

That approval came from the Senate this week, in the form of Senate Bill 204. And the House is expected to follow suit.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

On a vote of 30-1, the Texas Senate has passed a two-year budget that would spend more than $211 billion dollars on everything from education and healthcare to border security, and would include cuts to property and business taxes. 

The debate didn’t take nearly as long as the 18 hours on the House side, but Democrats did voice their opposition. State Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), the only member to vote against the budget bill, criticized the $811 million that would go to policing the border.

Gage Skidmore/wikimedia commons

From Texas Standard:

The first three Republican contenders for president — Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and now Marco Rubio, all have Tea Party ties. Rubio is the latest to announce candidacy and, despite being considered a Tea Party darling not long ago, his current views on immigration have driven a wedge between the two.

Callie Hernandez/KUT

Alix Crunk says that as a child growing up in Texas, she never questioned it when adults told her, “Don’t pick the bluebonnets.”

“Made sense — so I didn’t think to question it. And then when we had a state trooper come in, he mentioned it…I’ve heard it from so many credible sources, so it just kind of made sense, and I never thought to question it,” says Crunk, a teacher at Mills Elementary School.

Via Pixabay.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

There’s a popular kids book by Beverly Cleary titled Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It’s the sixth book in the Ramona series. In it, the struggling pre-adolescent protagonist proclaims that the best part of third grade is the time when you can “drop everything and read.”

Well that sentiment’s not just for precocious book characters or little kids, either.

This Sunday marks the first ever Drop Everything and Read Texas Day or “DEAR Texas Day” – for those of us who like acronyms.

True Tex-Mex Cuisine’s Long Adios

Apr 11, 2015
Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

This article originally appeared on Texas Monthly. Read the full story here.

Is Tex-Mex a fading cuisine? It sure seems that way in Houston, where I find it’s getting harder and harder to find the authentic stuff.

First, we’d better define what true Tex-Mex is. According to a non-scientific survey… no vegetables – except for maybe a few shreds of iceberg lettuce on the tacos or a single wilted leaf of it under the scoop of side-dish guacamole, thus rendering the dish a “guacamole salad.”

When everything seems to be the same 4 or 5 ingredients rearranged.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Updated 11 a.m. This morning, victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack were awarded Purple Heart medals for their service and sacrifice. A video of the ceremony is available below.


From Texas Standard:

When a hazing incident makes the news, we usually think of college campuses – a fraternity rush gone wrong, or an initiation ritual for a sport team. But not always. That was the case this week in Texas.

Five members of the Ellis County Volunteer Fire Department have been charged with aggravated sexual assault. The incident allegedly occurred back in January as part of a hazing ritual for new recruits.

Photo via flickr.com/reynermedia

We all know how the hiring process works: A hiring manager posts an opening, describes their ideal candidate and waits for the influx of resumes. After doing some interviews, the manager has to make a gut decision, a subjective assessment - and the research shows that more often than not, they’ll pick someone who has a really similar background as them.

A Spanish Guide for Texas Gringos

Apr 8, 2015
Joe McGowan/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

With Texas' rapidly changing demographics, many have come to the personal conclusion that it's simply insufficient to be fluent in one language alone.

But for some English speakers, let's face it — Spanish language fluency is probably not in the cards. You know who you are.


From Texas Standard:

It wasn't too long ago when Dallas became the epicenter for what many feared could have been the beginning of a nationwide ebola epidemic. Since then, the U.S. government has fought to figure out when and where the next viral epidemic may come from.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This legislative session, Texas lawmakers are considering seven bills dealing with raising the state's minimum wage.

One of the bills would bring it up from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for an estimated 2.4 million Texans. But there are pros and cons to raising the state's minimum wage.