Texas

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

Courtesy of Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant

On Wednesday, a panel of House lawmakers discussed a proposal to change how marriage licenses are issued in Texas, giving that power to one appointed official: the Secretary of State.

The bill comes after the Travis County clerk issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple last month, after being ordered to do so by a judge.

State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) says his bill would take away the ability of the state’s 254 county clerks to issue marriage licenses, instead giving that power only to the Secretary of State.

Laura Rice/Texas Standard

About 60 percent of the water we use in Texas comes from aquifers – natural underground reservoirs that often aren’t easily replenished. In Hays County, aquifers have raised a critical question: Who has the right to draw from the Trinity Aquifer, how much they can draw – and can anyone stop them?

A private company based out of Houston – Electro Purification (EP) – plans to pump groundwater from around the city of Wimberley and pipe it to other thirsty communities. EP has contracts to pipe more than 5 million gallons of water a day from this part of the Trinity Aquifer through the year 2036.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Experts say this wildflower season might be one of the best in years, but we’ll have to wait a little longer than usual to find out.

That's because a cooler-than-normal March has postponed the blooming season. 

Brenda Salinas/KUT

Farrah Akhtar says there's no such thing as getting a quick sari.

“No, no, no, you want to try everything on, then you need the jewelry, the shoes, and then you want to bargain, and then you might not be happy with the deal, so you’ll go somewhere else," Akhtar says.

Joseph B/flickr

The challenges facing Child Protective Services in Texas are well known. The agency is underfunded and never seems to have enough personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children in its system.

But, this year, the agency did something different: CPS is looking for ways to prevent crises from happening in the first place.

Could Liability Insurance for Bars Curb Drunk Driving?

Mar 17, 2015
Photo courtesy flickr.com/ kevharb

This legislative session, Arlington Rep. Chris Turner pre-filed a bill that would hold bars responsible for the behavior of over-served customers, requiring all bars in the state carry minimum liability insurance.

While Turner’s bill may seem onerous to some bar owners, he argues his proposal to require bars to have insure bars would insulate owners from lawsuits and, ultimately, curb drunk driving.

KUT News

The signup period to buy an Obamacare plan for 2015 ended last month, but now, there’s a separate window to sign up for a very specific group of people.

Elizabeth Colvin, the director of nonprofit Insure Central Texas, which helps people with the health insurance application process, says this is only for people who are penalized on their 2014 tax return for being uninsured last year.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There's a new petition making the rounds through Texas and the United States.

Its goal is to end the incarceration of immigrant mothers and children. A catalyst for the petition was a recent wave of suicide attempts by some of the women in detention in facilities in Texas.

Alex Cockroach/flickr

March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day – as in 3.1415. And, at 9:26:53 a.m., the date and time will align with the first ten digits of pi: 3.141592653.

KUT News

The case of Marlise Muñoz made national headlines when her family sued a Fort Worth hospital to take her off life support.

She was kept on machines for roughly two months, but doctors couldn’t remove her because she was pregnant. This case is now in the spotlight again, but this time at the Texas Capitol. 

KUT News

As the legislative session picks up steam, dozens of people from across the state came to a rally on the Capitol steps Thursday to show support for Medicaid expansion in Texas under the Affordable Care Act.

Speakers included Texas residents and business community leaders like the president of the Texas Hospital Association and chambers of commerce. 

Texas is ending its contract with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to run the Alamo. The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that the move ends the organization's more than 100-year-long management of the landmark.

The change will help "create a bigger, brighter future for this Texas shrine," Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a joint statement with the DRT.

Wednesday was a fierce day of fighting in Iraq. The self-proclaimed Islamic State set off 21 car bombs in Ramadi as Iraqi forces gained ground in Tikrit, re-taking control of a military hospital there.

Back in the U.S., the debate continues about how best to deal with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But for some veterans the time for talk is over. Unknown numbers of American war vets have taken up with foreign fighters battling ISIS.

flickr.com/batega

From Texas Standard: 

“Fixin’ to” is the national verb of Texas. Certainly you find it in use in other states, but it is particularly pervasive in Texas. For many of us it is the default verb for anything to do with the near future. And most of us replace that final “o” with an “a”– as in, Fixin’ Ta. As my mom would say, “I’m fixin’ ta vacuum in there, so y’all don’t get too comfortable.”

KUT News

In a challenge to the Affordable Care Act heard recently by the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, the argument was that people who bought health coverage on a federal exchange, like the one in Texas, cannot qualify for a tax credit to make the monthly premium cheaper. That's because of wording in the health care law that challengers of the legislation say only allows the IRS to give tax credits to people on a state exchange.

While that battle plays out in Washington, the federal government has released numbers this week showing how many people are receiving tax credits.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

A state senator says Texas has "gaping holes" in the laws on contracting. To change that, a panel of lawmakers is reviewing a bill from State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, that would overhaul how billions of dollars in state funding are awarded.

Under the bill, the more money involved in a state agency contract, the more competitive bids required before signing a deal. Agencies would have to post their contracts online and develop a contract management database, for instance.

Wikimedia Commons

Like many across the world, you may have come into work late this week because of daylight saving time. Yesterday, lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that could end the “spring forward” clock change once and for all in Texas.

State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) says there are a lot of myths about daylight saving time. He says farmers don’t really care for it, and that it doesn’t seem to conserve energy. He even says there are studies showing more car accidents and heart attacks following the clock change.

Job Growth Spurs Temporary Housing Market in Houston

Mar 10, 2015
Courtesy of WaterWalk

Approximately 50,000 people relocate to Houston every year, creating a luxury-housing boom.

Imagine waking up in your luxury apartment. There’s a knock at the door – in wheels some scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, a gourmet breakfast delivered. Every morning. And your company’s paying for all of it. That could be the reality for some Houston transplants as early as June, if David Redfern has his way. He’s the president of Waterwalk.

thepetitionsite.com

Update March 10, 2015 9:45 a.m. Texas Tech University's Board of Regents voted Friday to award an honorary degree to Timothy Cole. The Associated Press first reported about this vote on Monday, after the university released a statement on the regents' vote.

Original story Dec. 11, 2014: Timothy Cole was the first person to receive a Texas posthumous pardon for a crime he didn’t commit. That happened in 2010. Now, a Texas resident wants Texas Tech University to grant Cole an honorary degree.

via Xconomy

Texas lawmakers in a transportation committee say they want to make 2015 the year Texas bans texting and driving statewide.

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