Texas

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

When Bessie Coleman wanted to become a pilot, no flying school would admit her because she was black and a woman. Undeterred, Coleman—who was born in Atlanta, Texas, and grew up in a poor sharecropper family in Waxahachie—obtained a sponsor and went to France for training. In 1921, she became the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license. She returned to the U.S. and flew in a series of airshows, performing stunts whenever she could borrow an airplane. Her dream was to earn enough money to buy her own plane and to establish a flying school for African-Americans.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Bob Daemmrich

A lot has happened since 2013, when then-Gov. Rick Perry followed through on a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which investigated public corruption and was housed in the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

As North Carolina lawmakers voted Thursday to revise that state's bathroom law, Texas Republicans pushing a similar measure said they are not backing away from their proposal.

JD Lasica/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's possible another billionaire who speaks his mind, is no stranger to TV, and has ideas about running the country could be the next President of the United States. Texas Monthly's Skip Hollandsworth poses the question in an article about Texan Mark Cuban, "Cuban Revolution".

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced a trade agreement Wednesday between the state and a group of settlers on the West Bank of Israel. Neither the U.S. government nor the United Nations recognizes the settlements.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The judge in the securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has ruled that the trial should be moved out of Collin County and delayed.

The ruling to change venue is a major victory for prosecutors, who had argued Paxton and his allies had tainted the jury pool in Collin County, where he lives.

Zelma Watson excelled in many diverse areas of life. She was a scholar, civic leader, peace advocate and the first black woman to sing a white role on Broadway.

Watson was born in 1903 in the former cotton-plantation town of Hearne, Texas. As the daughter of a Baptist minister, she remembered such leaders as W.E.B. DuBois and Mary Branch Terrell visiting her father’s Dallas church. The family left Texas after being threatened by vigilantes. 

In the early 18th century, 15 families from the Canary Islands immigrated to Texas as part of an effort by the Spanish government to settle a group of its citizens in the military outpost of San Fernando de Béxar. After sailing to Veracruz, Mexico, the travelers, including María Robaína Betancour, a widow with five children, endured a difficult overland journey to arrive in present-day San Antonio in March 1731. Making a home for her family in a new land, Betancour acquired a large property that became a dowry when she married her second husband, Martín Lorenzo de Armas.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year budget on Tuesday that would shift nearly $2 billion in public education costs from the state to local taxpayers.

The Senate's $218 billion document now goes to budget writers in the House for debate.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized so-called "sanctuary cities" and threatened cuts in federal funding if local governments do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests to detain people in their jails who may be undocumented. In Austin, both the city and county government have resisted some federal hold requests, and Mayor Steve Adler says he’s looking for clarification as to the federal government’s intentions.

World Travel & Tourism Council/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott says the state – not cities or counties – should have the final say on issues like fracking regulations, bag bans, ride-hailing and any other regulatory issue. At two recent events, Abbott said he’d support a policy placing a broad-based ban on regulations at the local level unless certain standards are met.

 

TDCJ/Abby Livingston

From the Texas Tribune:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate Tuesday, sending his case back to the appeals court and invalidating the state's current method of determining if a death-sentenced inmate is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. Texas' method relies on decades-old medical standards and a controversial set of factors.

Archeological records revealed the existence of a strong tradition of pottery-making by Caddo women dating back to about 800 in the Common Era. For hundreds of years, Caddo women made pottery for daily use, as well as for decorative uses and cultural rites and rituals. The extraordinary skill and creativity of Caddo potters is confirmed by the tens of thousands of pottery fragments or near-complete ceramics found at Caddo archeological sites.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question, submitted by Charles Douglas III:

What is a typical ratio between the number of bills proposed versus the number of bills voted on during a legislative session?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran in January 2013.

The Texas Legislature is just now getting into full swing. We're more than two months into the session, but you might notice that things have been relatively quiet so far when it comes to actual law-making.

And while it might seem like a slow start to the every-other-year meeting, actually, it’s all part of the plan.

In musical terms, each session has its own rhythm and tempo.


The SpaceX complex at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Bill VanderMolen/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s a space shuttle filled with tourists? While that idea sounds like science fiction, the reality of sending tourists to space is right around the corner – at least if you believe Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. He recently announced that Blue Origin, his private space company, could begin flying private citizens to the edge of the atmosphere by next year.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters.

Following more than an hour of debate, the chamber voted 21-10 to move the bill to a final vote, likely later this week. 

A middle school hallway
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

It’s standardized testing season for Texas public school students. For some school districts, test time means missing documents, computer glitches and shoddy technical support.

 

U.S. F-15E fighter planes
Stuart Rankin/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you Google "Syria and civilian casualties," you’ll find numbers that vary widely depending on who is reporting the information and why. Russia has long been blamed for a lack of discretion in choosing targets for its airstrikes, leading to massive numbers of civilian deaths. But with President Donald Trump giving field commanders more latitude to fight ISIS, claims of civilian casualties caused by American-led forces have increased significantly.

 Talented musician, writer, and activist Maud Cuney-Hare rose to prominence in the Northeast, but she never gave up her Texas heritage.

Born in Galveston in 1874, she was the daughter of Adelina and Norris Wright Cuney, one of the state’s most influential African-American politicians and civil rights leaders of the post-Civil War era. She grew up in an upper-class home filled with music and literature, and after graduating from high school studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

When white students tried to have her barred from living on campus, she stood her ground and won the right to remain in her dormitory. She cultivated relationships with prominent black leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, to whom she was briefly engaged and with whom she remained close both personally and professionally throughout her life. 

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