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

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Organizations throughout Central Texas are looking for money, for donations of goods and for volunteers to help with flood relief efforts.

The city of Wimberley opened a hotline both for volunteers and for residents in need – that number is 512-754-2275. They also have a facebook page here, where they're updating information about what they need.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The community in Wimberley is finding some sort of normalcy after record flooding over the weekend. Seven homes there were destroyed, and 1,400 were damaged. But even before the waters had receded, community members started looking for ways to help their neighbors.

A steady flow of customers came into Brookshire Brothers, Wimberley's local supermarket, on Tuesday. Customers were buying extra water and groceries that supermarket employees would then pack up for neighbors in need. A sign-up sheet by the door encouraged residents to write down how they could help others. Some people offered their cars; others, their cell phones.

Photo via Flickr/martin55 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

In case you missed it, Texas House Concurrent Resolution 130 is now law.

“WHEREAS, John Wayne is the prototypical American hero, symbolizing such traits as self-reliance, grace under pressure, resolve, and patriotism be it resolved that the State of Texas hereby resolves May 26th as John Wayne Day.”

John Wayne’s son, Ethan Wayne, is an actor himself – he joins the Texas Standard to talk about his father’s career.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Update Tuesday 4:30 a.m. Several additional area school districts have announced changes to their schedules for today because of flooding and road conditions:

  • Classes at Taylor High School have been canceled because of flooding in the building. All other Taylor ISD schools will operate on a two hour delay.
  • The following districts are operating on a two hour delay: Hutto, Jarrell, Luling, Lockhart, Manor (two hour delay for students; staff report at regular time).

Because of some track washouts, Capital Metro's MetroRail will operate only between the Howard and Downtown stations on Tuesday. Cap Metro says road conditions may also cause some bus route detours.

Earlier: After storms wreaked havoc through Central Texas Sunday, the area was hit again Monday afternoon, flooding roadways and causing power outages in Austin and surrounding areas. After reported tornado touchdowns mid-afternoon in several Central Texas counties, storms deluged the already-saturated Austin area with rain, causing flooding all over the city.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A bill (House Bill 3994) that would add restrictions to how minors can bypass the state’s parental consent law to get an abortion was approved by the Texas Senate today.

What’s called the judicial bypass bill received plenty of roadblocks from opponents, however. 

Before the bill was even brought up for a vote, opponents in the Senate had hours’ worth of questions about what the bill would require a minor and a judge to do.

Lizzie Chen

One fatality has been reported, officials say. The man's identity has not been released publicly.

Update Monday 8 a.m. We are reporting Monday's news here. A flash flood watch and a tornado watch are in effect for large parts of Central Texas as more severe weather is expected this afternoon and evening. Governor Greg Abbott is traveling to storm- and flood-damaged areas today, and we'll be covering his press conference in Wimberley at 1 p.m.

For information on how you can find or donate assistance, we are compiling a list here


Religious objections to gay marriage would be protected from lawsuits, if a bill passed by the Texas House becomes law.

It got a first OK Thursday by the House and is expected to get final passage today. 

Coming To a Keyboard Near You: Texas Emojis

May 20, 2015

From Texas Standard:

Emojis — small graphics of items, symbols, and faces used in texting and web messaging — have become a major form of communication. You can hold entire conversations with them and even, if you have a lot of time on your hands, transcribe entire books with them.

But a lot of Texas icons — armadillos, Shiner beer, Whataburger — are regrettably missing from your smartphone keyboard. No more! A Texas company will make your ‘Texmoji’ dreams come true.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Horseshoe Bay sits on the southern end of Lake LBJ in the Texas Hill country. Like every other Hill Country town, it has beautiful views, amazing wildflowers and a relaxed atmosphere. But the similarities end there: Horseshoe Bay isn’t like any other Hill Country town.

The median home price is $525,000. Fifty-three percent of the town is at least 60 years old. Only about 25 percent of the town lives there full-time, and most of the homes in town are second, or even third, homes.

Older folks with money in a sleepy lakeside town — but there might be more to Horseshoe Bay than meets the eye.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

From Texas Standard:

Walking out to get the mail? Put on some repellant. Seriously.

One type of mosquito you really want to avoid right now is one that is out and about in the middle of the day. It is the type that carries a painful disease that’s spread from South and Central America into Mexico and, perhaps soon, Texas.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’re heading north on I-35, just past Georgetown you’ll find Florence, Texas.

The town of a little more than a thousand people is experiencing big changes.

It used to be a vibrant little town, in part because drivers needed to go through it on their way to Killeen. About 18,000 cars used to drive through Florence’s Main Street everyday — but not anymore.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Driving around the town of Giddings, it's hard to miss the yellow 'Giddings football' flags flying in front of many homes.

“Football is really big with any small town. The school is the hub of the community, so everyone gets involved,” says Shane Holman, assistant Superintendent for Giddings ISD.

Holman’s lived in Giddings for most of his life. Six years ago, he says, there was a community push for something new: a soccer program.

To him, that’s just one sign of the changing demographics in Giddings’ schools.

9 Dead In Waco Following Biker Gang Shootings

May 17, 2015
Waco Police Department Facebook

Waco police say nine people have been killed and others injured after gunfire erupted between rival biker gangs at a restaurant.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton says eight people died at the scene of the shooting at Twin Peaks restaurant about noon Sunday and another person died at a hospital.

Swanton says the fight began with punches and then escalated to knives and firearms. It's not immediately clear if bystanders are among the dead. The severity of injuries to others was not immediately known.


Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries announced today it will lay off more than one-third of its workforce, as it struggles to bring its production back online after listeria contamination was found in its ice cream products and at several of its plants.

Three deaths have been linked to the contamination.

750 full-time and 700 part-time workers will be laid off. That represents 37 percent of the company's 3,900 employees.

Why Mad Max Might Really Be a Texan

May 15, 2015
tricks ware/flickr

He's just a Texan posing as a Brit posing as an Aussie.

Is Mad Max a crypto-Texan? About as much as a character played by an English actor in an Australian film shot in the African desert can be. Director George Miller has said he's making a "western on wheels." And Max is a character straight out of the American West. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth part of the dystopian series.

KUT News

It's been almost 100 years since the state school opened its doors to adults with severe developmental disabilities. Today the state school is called Austin State Supported Living Center, and it's facing closure via two bills in the legislature: Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 2699.

The process started last summer when the state's Sunset Advisory Commission, the group of legislators who study which state agencies are obsolete, decided the school needed to close. Despite opposition from the parents and guardians of the 215 people who live at the school, the bills are steadily inching their way through the legislative process.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Minors seeking to obtain abortions without parental consent would face more restrictions under a bill that received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Texas House.

After about four hours of debate and a barrage of failed amendments by Democrats, the House passed House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria on a 98-47 vote. The measure would enact several restrictions on “judicial bypass,” the legal process that allows some minors to obtain abortions without their parents’ permission. The measure now awaits final approval by the House before it can go to the Senate.

Texas law requires minors to obtain consent for an abortion from at least one parent. But if obtaining an abortion could endanger the minor, she can look to the courts for judicial bypass to obtain the abortion without parental consent.


Greg Puriski has worked as a ramp worker for Southwest Airlines for 19 years, and he’s always felt like he was an asset to the company. “The last few years — I want to say the last five years or so — the culture has changed, from where we’re more like a regular legacy carrier or regular corporation, to where we’re not really appreciated anymore, and it just feels like there’s procedure changes all the time,” Pruinski says.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Every legislative session, there are bound to be bills targeting some regulation or other in Austin.

Which is why every session, Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard heads to the Capitol to learn more about the bills and to see if their impact on Austin would be positive or negative. These are her projections.

In the May 3 "Draw Muhammad" attack in Garland, Texas, there were some loose ends that got cleared up Monday by local police chief Mitch Bates. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi from Phoenix were killed by Garland police officers after the two men drove from Arizona and opened fire at the event featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.