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

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.

Nathan Bernier/KUT

The Texas House lawmaker in charge of public education has unveiled a plan that he says answers the question: What to do about school finance?

That question has been looming over Texas lawmakers since 2011, when more than 600 school districts sued the state over billions of dollars in cuts to school funding. 

Courtesy of Donald E. Davis

From Texas Standard:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the dinosaurs? Well, you’re not the only one.

That’s why an international group of scientists, funded by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, are planning to launch an expedition to drill into the Chicxulub crater, a 150-mile wide impact crater buried underneath the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Mackenzie Dunn/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard

T.C. Boyle is no stranger to tackling the taboo in his literature. His more than 20 novels examine every restricted topic in America and have earned him more accolades than many authors would ever dream of receiving. The New York Times raves his latest novel is the best one yet.

The Harder They Come examines the shootings that seem to be taking place nonstop across America. “It seems like there’s one every month now,” Boyle says. The novel takes place in Fort Bragg, California; however, it could be anywhere in the United States.

KUT News

Hispanic evangelicals in Texas have common ground with some conservative Texas lawmakers on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. When it comes to a measure known as the sanctuary cities bill, however, evangelicals say their faith stops them from supporting the measure.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Jonathanmallard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

For about a century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) were caretakers of the Alamo. The group rescued parts of it from being demolished and made efforts to carefully preserve its history.

But new Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush ended an arrangement with the DRT last month. Bush cited multiple issues – including the DRT’s failure to keep the Alamo operating without placing significant financial demands on his office.

That’s ignited a new battle over the Alamo.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

More than 40 mothers held in the Karnes Detention Center started a hunger strike Tuesday to protest for their release, according to the San Antonio legal aid organization RAICES. The center detains immigrant families who cross the border illegally.

RAICES says it recorded a phone call with a detainee, which it posted to YouTube. In it, a woman speaking in Spanish confirms the strike and reports that more women are joining up.

State Audit: 'Operational Defects' Led to 21CT Deal

Apr 2, 2015
Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A scathing state audit of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's $20 million deal for fraud tracking software has revealed "operational defects" within the agency's procurement process. 

According to the report, which was released on Thursday, no one took ownership of the deal or ever questioned why it should not be competitively awarded. 

Maker Movement Takes Off in Texas

Apr 2, 2015
Photo via worldofnovelty.com

Storytelling and authenticity are changing the way consumers choose products.

After a long career in technology, Denny Hamill was ready to retire and take it easy. Then his grandson came to him with a problem: a dog named Prancer.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

At the Capitol Wednesday, advocates for people with disabilities showed up in force to draw attention to how much home care attendants earn, which isn't much more than minimum wage.

The chants were hard to ignore at the rotunda. Home care attendants came to ask Texas lawmakers to raise their minimum wage, since in the state, caregivers get a minimum of $7.86 an hour.

At the rotunda, Sarah Watkins, who is in a wheelchair, said she has a tough time keeping a caregiver for long.

Gage Skidmore/flickr

From Texas Standard: 

Who will make it to the Final Four – and who will get bounced out?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to the final four. It kicked off two weeks ago when 64 teams began competing to represent their region in the finals. And just like that tournament, the announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz tipped off the race for the GOP nomination for president.

KUT News

At 5:39 a.m. Wednesday, the Texas House gave preliminary approval of its state budget bill for 2016-2017.

House lawmakers spent nearly 18 hours going through amendments that would add or take away spending, hot button issues included, and passed the budget on a vote of 141-5.

Grand Jury Recommends UT Regent's Removal

Mar 31, 2015
Charlie Pearce/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In an unusual, strongly worded report, a Travis County grand jury recommended this week that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall be removed from office.

It didn’t, however, indict him or accuse him of any criminal wrongdoing. Instead, it called Hall’s behavior “unaccountable and abusive.”

"Transparency and accountability are key elements in maintaining citizens' trust in their government," the report said. "Regent Hall demonstrated neither accountability nor transparency in his actions."

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Texas Senate is moving forward with a proposal to assign letter grades to Texas public schools.

Supporters say this bill would boost failing schools, while opponents say these grades will stigmatize schools and create more of a problem. 

State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, says his bill, SB 6, would empower parents. They’d have more information about how their children’s schools are doing once their school gets an A through F grade based on standardized test scores.

Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.

“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.