Texas

Affordable Care Act
8:32 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Despite Increased Enrollment, Online Spanish Sign-Up Faces Challenges

Ovidio Jesus Garcia, left, gets help from Gigi Veliz at Foundation Communities' Insure Central Texas location at Highland Mall on Jan. 14, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 120,000 Texans signed up for health insurance through the federally run marketplace through the end of last month, but it’s only a small fraction of the state’s total uninsured population.

And enrollment of Latinos, a group targeted by the Obama administration has had its challenges.

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StateImpact Texas
12:46 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

North Texas Earthquake Swarm More Centralized Than Previously Thought

Another minor earthquake shook the North Texas community of Azle on Monday. It’s one of dozens to hit the region over the last few months that have residents on edge and complaining of property damage.

Many see a link between the quakes and increased oil and gas activity. But challenges confront scientists researching the quakes for the U.S. Geological Survey and Southern Methodist University. For one, they’ve needed to more accurately pinpoint the epicenters of the Azle quakes.

View Earthquakes Near Azle, Texas in a larger map

Map created by Andrew Weber for KUT News and StateImpact Texas. Orange circles represent earthquakes, wavy blue lines represent active wastewater disposal wells.

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Texas
5:20 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

What SCOTUS Inaction Means for the Texas Abortion Ban

An Arizona case has been denied the chance to be heard by the nation's highest court, but what does that mean for Texas' 20-week ban on abortions?
Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is declining to take up a case involving abortion.

State officials in Arizona were appealing a lower court’s decision to strike down a state law that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. But does the high court’s decision not to take up the case have implications on any future challenges to the 20-week ban that went into effect in Texas last year?

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Texas
1:45 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Permit To Hunt And Kill One Black Rhino Sold For $350,000

A black rhino in Namibia's Etosha National Park.
Frans Lanting DPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 10:23 am

The Dallas Safari Club's controversial auction of a permit to hunt one black rhino in Namibia raised $350,000 over the weekend, the club confirms on its Facebook page.

That's at the lower end of the range that club executive Ben Carter had expected. In December, he told NPR that he hoped the auction would raise $225,000 to $1 million.

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University of Texas
12:46 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

UT Regents Approve 5-year $25 Million Contract for Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong at a press conference announcing his hire as the Longhorns' head football coach.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

It's official: University of Texas Regents approved Charlie Strong's contract today. Strong will be paid $25.4 million over 5 years — $5 million per year with a $100,000 bonus available after every year. 

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Poverty
5:30 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Fifty Years After Start of War on Poverty, Texas Has Room for Improvement

Today marks 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress and the nation to fight poverty. Texas – President Johnson’s home state – often touts its growing economy. But the state has one of the highest rates of poverty in the U.S.
LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas

Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's call to Congress, and the nation, to fight poverty.

Texas – President Johnson’s home state – often touts its growing economy. But the state has one of the highest rates of poverty in the U.S.

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Texas
1:04 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

After a Red Scare, Texas Could be Sriracha's Solution

Rep. Jason Villalba wrote Huy Fong Foods' CEO David Tran to convince the embattled hot sauce-maker to move to Texas.
flickr.com/photos/57043777@N03/

A nationwide shortage of Sriracha sauce has fans of the hot stuff in something just short of a panic, but one state representative has a plan for Texas to come to the rescue.

State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Richardson) has propositioned California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. to move its operations to Texas after production of the peppery product was halted due to complaints from citizens living near its factory in Irwindale, CA.

KUT's David Brown spoke to Villalba about state and city pitches to recruit Huy Fong, California's "over-regulated" business climate and his go-t0 Sriracha dishes.  

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Texas
9:54 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Texas Supreme Court to Consider Online Defamation Case

Courts could be able to forcibly remove defamatory statements from the internet, if the Texas Supreme Court sides with Austin businessman Robert Kinney.
Frank Swift for Texas Tribune

Robert Kinney says his former boss wrote false and defamatory things about him online, and he wants the state's highest civil court to order the remarks be deleted.

In a case that could have far-reaching effects on individual freedom to post online, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments from both sides on Thursday about whether the Texas Constitution allows the court to force Kinney's former boss to unpublish negative postings about his former employee.

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StateImpact Texas
3:20 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Amid a Surge of Texas Earthquakes, Oil and Gas Regulators to Hire a Seismologist

Railroad Commissioner David J. Porter asked the commission to "begin a nationwide search to find the best candidate" for a seismologist.
Mose Buchele for KUT

In today’s meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state Agency that regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, Commissioner David Porter announced the search for a staff seismologist in response to the rash of small earthquakes that have sprung up throughout the state along with the boom in oil and gas production.

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Criminal Justice
11:56 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Solitary Confinement Study Approved but Lacks Funding

Texas lawmakers have yet to review the state's solitary confinement, including costs, frequency and effects of the policy on inmates.
Caleb Bryant Miller for Texas Tribune

Last year, lawmakers approved and Gov.Rick Perry signed a bill that requires adetailed review of the use of solitary confinement in Texas prisons.

Four months after the measure became law, though, the committee charged with hiring an independent party to study solitary confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice hasn’t met and has no intention to.

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Aging in Texas
9:01 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Experts Turn to Tech as Texas Population Ages and Geriatric Doctors Dwindle

Austin resident Joe Bachicha, 80, overcomes feelings of depression by taking long walks and reaching out to his three daughters.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 3 million people in Texas are between the ages of 65 and 85, according to the office of the state demographer. That number is expected to more than double by the year 2040.

Texas – like the rest of the country – lacks enough geriatric mental health professionals to match the population. So experts are looking at alternatives to help seniors overcome depression -- that includes one approach using technology.

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Affordable Care Act
2:02 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Some See Politics in Proposed Training Rules for Insurance 'Navigators'

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, spoke against proposed rules from the Texas Department of Insurance for so-called "navigators" at a public hearing on Jan. 6, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Texas officials have proposed adding new rules for the so-called "navigators" -- the people who help consumers sign up for health insurance through the federally-run marketplace.

Today, Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber heard comments for and against these rules from the public, including additional hours of training, which some say is political effort to hamper the health insurance law.

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HB2
9:29 am
Mon January 6, 2014

U.S. Appeals Court to Hear Texas Abortion Law Case

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Credit photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

State officials and plaintiffs suing on behalf of Texas abortion providers are due back in court this morning.

The case being heard this morning was launched by abortion rights advocates hoping to overturn a state statute - known as HB2 - that regulates abortions. It was passed by the Texas Legislature in July and has since been tied up in a legal battle that has been appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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StateImpact Texas
11:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Anger Greets State Officials in Quake-Prone Texas Town

Residents of Azle, near Ft. Worth, were asked to raise their hands if they've heard a loud "boom" accompanying recent earthquakes.
Mose Buchele for KUT

“I’ve got a crack in my hallway,” chuckled Marion LeBert as he stood in the parking lot of Azle High School.

“Oh my!” commiserated Tracy Napier. “We have sink holes in our yard. And they’ve gotten bigger since these earthquakes.”

The two were among hundreds of townspeople hoping to get answers at a meeting hosted last  night by the  Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas industry regulators. The area, in Parker and Tarrant counties, didn’t experience earthquakes until recently. Now, it’s seen a swarm of over twenty minor ones in the last two months, troubling residents and causing damage to some homes. The earthquakes would be the topic of discussion.

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Texas
9:18 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Firearm Parts Maker Packing Up in Colorado, Moving to Texas

Magpul Industries announced on Jan. 2, 2014 that it's moving its headquarters from Colorado to Texas. Manufacturing will go to Wyoming.

Magpul Industries makes firearm magazines and accessories. It’s based in Erie, Colo., near Boulder. But it’s moving its headquarters to Texas.

Director of product management and marketing Duane Liptak says Magpul's decision is a result of Colorado’s new legislation that limits sales of firearm accessories and imposes universal background checks.

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StateImpact Texas
12:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Town Hall Tonight Will Take on North Texas Earthquakes

Residents around Eagle Mountain Lake outside of Fort Worth have had a shaky few months. Dozens of small earthquakes have struck the area out of the blue. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is not known as a place that’s prone to earthquakes. In fact, before 2007, there were no recorded earthquakes in the area. Since then, there have been hundreds.

Studies of other swarms of earthquakes to the south in Johnson County and around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport have shown disposal wells to be the culprit, where wastewater from oil and gas drilling is injected deep underground. Inject enough wastewater, at the right pressure, and it can cause quiet faults to slip, resulting in earthquakes.

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Business
10:29 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Beyond Perry, Future of Deal-Closing Fund Uncertain

Since creating the fund 10 years ago, Gov. Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund has given $508 million to businesses relocating to Texas.
Photo illustration by Gage Skidmore / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

When Gov. Rick Perry steps down at the end of this year, he will have awarded more than $508 million from the taxpayer-financed Texas Enterprise Fund to businesses looking to relocate to the state or expand existing operations here.

But the future of the fund, which critics call corporate welfare, is unclear. The two front-runners to replace Perry, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, have offered mixed messages on the economic development fund in the past, leaving questions about whether it will extend beyond Perry's tenure. 

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Texas
9:55 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Don't Bid Auf Wiedersehen to Texas German Just Yet

The Saengerrunde Damenchor began singing in 1959 at the Austin Saengerrunde. The women usually rehearse on Monday evenings.
David Weaver

Texas is the only place in the world where you can find an unusual hybrid of German and English. 

This Texas-German dialect stretches back to the 1800s, before Texas was even a state, when German immigrants arrived here. While the number of speakers dwindles, Texas-German pride hasn't. 

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Texas
3:15 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Mixed Drinks Could Be Served With Higher Price, As New Texas Law Goes Into Effect

A mixed drink in Texas could cost you more starting Jan. 1, 2014 in Texas.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

If you order a mixed drink in Texas tomorrow, you might see the price on your bill higher than what you’re used to. That’s because of a new state law that goes into effect on Jan. 1.

In Texas, if a bar sells you a mixed drink, it has to give 14 percent of what you pay back to the state. And that tax doesn’t show up on your receipt.

If the bar only sells beer and wine, it doesn't pay that tax. In that case the customer pays a sales tax of 8.25 percent. And that does show up on the receipt.

Tomorrow – on Jan. 1 – a new law goes into effect, which changes that. 

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Texas
11:23 am
Tue December 31, 2013

New Year Brings Good and Bad News For Texas Wind Power

Wind turbines in West Texas create power for population centers in the east.
Credit Photo by Mose Buchele

By New Year's Day, the network of transmission lines that comprise Texas' "Competitive Renewable Energy Zone" [CREZ] will be fully operational, bringing electricity from wind turbines in West Texas and the Panhandle to points east. Many of the lines are already active (and have contributed to record-breaking percentages of Texas electricity coming from wind), but the Jan. 1 deadline is cause for celebration among those who have long prided Texas' role as a leader in wind power.

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