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

In the early time before European, Mexican and American explorers arrived in present-day Texas, an incalculable number of Indian women made this place home. Unfortunately, the names of these women are unknown, but researchers are learning who they are and what they did.


Perhaps most famous for the sound of her sonorous voice, Barbara Jordan articulated the emotions of many when as member of the House Judiciary Committee, she defended the U.S. Constitution against its subversion during the Watergate scandal in 1972. Using herself as a symbol of the people who had once been excluded from it, she said, “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the destruction of the Constitution.”


Nicknamed Big Mama for both her size and her dynamic voice, blues legend Willie Mae Thornton grew up singing in the choir in her father’s church near Montgomery, Ala. She won a singing contest in 1941 at age 15 and attracted the attention of Atlanta music promoter Sammy Green, who signed her for his Hot Harlem Review.


Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

If President Donald Trump has his way, the U.S. air traffic control system will be privatized. The idea is the first bullet point in the transportation section of the White House budget blueprint. Some major airlines including Texas-based American and Southwest support privatization of air traffic control.


Best known for her landmark bill that guarantees college admission to Texas high school students in the top 10 percent of their graduation classes, Irma Rangel was the first Tejana elected to the Texas House of Representatives.


Rangel began her career participating in workers’ marches in the 1960s and working as a teacher and a principal. After becoming a lawyer, she was assistant district attorney in Corpus Christi, insisting on equal pay before she took the job. She opened her own law practice and got involved in local politics.


Thomas R Machnitzki/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

A glitch that causes the Dallas 911 system to receive “ghost calls” from T-Mobile cell phone numbers is preventing callers with real emergencies from getting through. So far, two people have died because they weren't able to make contact with 911 using their T-Mobile phones.


In 1976, a former social studies teacher named Ann Richards took her family to the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio to instill a love for Texas in her children. After watching a slide and film show designed to illustrate the universal character of Texas people, Richards’ daughter asked, “Where are all the women?” Richards realized they were missing from the show and decided to do something about it.


From Texas Standard:

With flights to Washington D.C. canceled because of a blizzard, Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd – both members of Congress from Texas – needed a way to get back to the nation’s capital. So they rented a car and set out, taking Facebook viewers along for the ride.

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

The Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would require transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth. Known as the "bathroom bill," Senate Bill 6 passed on a 21-10 vote along party lines. 

The Texas House on Wednesday passed a statewide ban on texting while driving.

Members voted 113-32 to tentatively approve the legislation, which will get a final vote in the House before it can proceed to the Senate. A Senate committee has passed a similar measure.

For years, the bill's author, state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has pushed legislation that would penalize drivers who use their phones on the road.

Tenacious labor leader and educator Emma Tenayuca was born in San Antonio in 1916. With her family and neighbors strongly affected by the privations of the Great Depression, she joined labor protests on behalf of the working poor. She was arrested for the first time at the age of 16 after joining a picket line of workers striking against the Finck Cigar Co.


Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday tentatively signed off on the “bathroom bill” on a 21-10 vote with one Democrat — state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville  — voting in favor of the bill.

Brian Cantoni/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For victims of sexual assault, collecting and testing a rape kit can mean the difference between solving a crime and allowing a perpetrator go free. In Texas, as in other states, rape kits are often collected but never tested because funds are not available. One lawmaker wants to give citizens the opportunity to contribute to a solution.

M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Remember the Takata airbag scandal? The company’s actions – though they took lives – were not criminal; Takata’s offenses were civil. Nobody went to jail. But the company was fined $1 billion.


Jovita Idar grew up in Laredo, one of eight children of parents who published La Crónica, a Spanish-language newspaper that exposed segregation, lynching and other injustices endured by Mexican Texans in the early 20th century.


From Texas Standard:

When the Texas Legislature passed the Woman’s Right to Know Act, abortion rights advocates decried what they saw as a paternalistic attitude on the part of majority-male sponsors of the law. The law requires patients seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours before the procedure and to be informed of potential medical risks. It also tightly regulates where abortions can be performed. 

This session, at least one legislator has decided to fight fire with ... irony?

Barbara Brannon/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

You may remember hearing about Crystal City, Texas, about this time a year ago. The story made national headlines and brought a lot of unwanted attention to the small city southwest of San Antonio.


A statewide ban on texting while driving was unanimously approved Monday by the Senate Committee on State Affairs and is now headed to the full Texas Senate.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state's voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber.

Hattie Mae White holds the distinction of being the first African-American elected to significant public office in Texas since the Reconstruction. A former school teacher, she won a place on the Houston school board in 1958, a time when the city’s schools remained segregated despite the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education.