Governor's Race

With Rick Perry retiring in 2014 after an unprecedented 14 years as Texas Governor, all eyes are on the race for Texas’ top elected official.

Gov. Perry hopes to pass the baton to Republican Greg Abbott, Attorney General for the state of Texas. Abbott has used his perch to aggressively challenge the Obama Administration on issues including Texas’ Voter ID laws and environmental regulations. Prior to that role, Abbott served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

For Texas Democrats, not since Ann Richards has the star of a party official risen as fast or conspicuously as that of state Sen. Wendy Davis. Davis is considering either running for reelection  to her Fort Worth Senate seat, or making a run for the Governor's office. Democrats across the state have gotten excited about a possible run at the top of the 2014 ticket, especially since the minority party doesn't have any candidates signed up to run for statewide office so far.

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Austin City Council
6:20 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Council Delays Vote on Project Duration Ordinance (Update)

At a press conference on Wednesday, Save Our Springs Alliance director Bill Bunch said repealing expirations could harm Austin.
KUT News

Update: The Austin City Council decided to delay their vote Thursday night, citing concerns that they did not have enough information.

City staff will return next week with a sampling of how many properties repealing the Project Duration Ordinance would affect. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the only council member against the delay last night.

Original Story (March 20, 7:22 p.m.): Permits for building projects may lose their expiration dates, depending on a vote at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.

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2013 Legislative Session
1:18 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Bill Would Make DNA Testing Mandatory in Death Penalty Cases

Sen. Robert Duncan (L) and Sen. Ellis joined Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at a press conference on DNA testing in death penalty cases.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some officials in Texas – including Attorney General Greg Abbott – want to change how the state handles DNA evidence.

Abbott says he thinks testing on DNA evidence should happen before a death penalty case goes to trial.

"If you’re innocent, you’re going to find out that your exoneration will come sooner," Abbott said. "If you are guilty, justice will be more swift and more certain."

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83rd Texas Legislature
11:58 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Bill Would Increase Punishment for Fatal Hit-and-Runs

Texas Tribune

The recent case of a former legislative staffer who was accused of the hit-and-run death of a 30-year-old Austin woman drew widespread attention, particularly after the staffer received a sentence of 10 years of probation and a $10,000 fine for her conviction on a criminally negligent homicide charge.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
2:34 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Texas Attorney General Abbott Digs In on 'Right-To-Work' Policies

Sen. Kel Seliger, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson annoiunced a "Workers Bill of Rights" today. Union organizers say the measures are punitive towards the working class.
KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a "Workers Bill of Rights" this morning at the Capitol. The document outlines the rights of Texas workers, including the ability to abstain from union membership and paying union dues. 

Abbott also took the occasion to promote House Bill 1524, a bill that would allow Texas workers to have "secret ballots" in union votes, saying that the privacy would allow workers to express opinions without any possible union interference or coercion from union leadership. 

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Business
3:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Toyota Settles Its Recall Lawsuit with Texas

The suit involved whether Toyota did enough to notify drivers of dangerous defects.
courtesy flickr.com/danielctw

Toyota has settled with Texas and 29 other states that investigated the car company for dangerous defects that came to light in 2009.

The states investigated whether Toyota adequately disclosed that voluntary recalls included popular models like the Camry, Tundra and Prius.

Toyota is now required to enhance safety procedures, pay back customers, and pay $217,000 in attorneys’ fees for the state of Texas.

Politics
7:33 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Perry: Abbott Won't Run If I Seek Reelection

Gov. Perry in Jefferson, Iowa during his presidential campaign last year
Ben Philpott, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry says Attorney General Greg Abbott will not challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary if Perry decides to seek re-election.

“Greg is a dear friend. He has said clearly that if I ran again, he’s not going to be running against me," Perry said in an exclusive interview with Dallas TV station WFAA. 

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Texas
2:18 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Texas Governor's Race Looms Over Abbott's Call for NY Gun Lovers

Greg Abbott speaking at a FreedomWorks event last year. The ambitious AG is making waves with an ad buy in the Big Apple.
Gage Skidmore

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is inviting New Yorkers who feel their state's new gun laws are too restrictive to migrate to Texas. 

Abbott has launched a new Google ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to move to Texas. It says gun-loving Yanks "will have the right to bear arms" and, due to Texas’ low taxes, will also have "more money to buy ammo."

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Health
5:15 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Does Texas Rank Last in Mental Health Spending?

Texans gather outside the Capitol for a rally in support of mental health funding.
flickr.com/photos/ranchocanyon

Today President Obama is expected to release details of proposals from a gun violence task force convened in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

In the days following Sandy Hook, many experts and pundits spoke of the need for better mental health care and screening.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Spike That Email About Welfare and Work; Fact-Checkers Say It's Not True

If this arrives in your inbox, fact checkers advise just hitting delete.
PolitiFact.com

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 5:58 pm

If you've gotten the "Death Spiral" email that's apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here's the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers:

It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.

The debunkers: both PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org.

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Courts
7:32 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Ruling Reinforces Law on Handguns in Employees' Cars

Todd Wiseman / Jeff Wilcox for Texas Tribune

In an opinion released Monday that reinforces a 2011 law, Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said that employers cannot prohibit an employee with a concealed handgun license from keeping a handgun in a locked, private vehicle in an employee parking lot.

State Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, wrote a request for opinion from the office on May 7 on the matter. During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed a law allowing employees to store concealed handguns in their vehicles on employer property except in cases where prohibited by federal or state law.

According to the attorney general’s opinion, Section 30.06 of the Texas penal code — which allows employers to post notices restricting handguns or other firearms on the premises — does not supersede the state law that protects concealed handgun license holders.

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2012 Presidential Election
4:37 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Texas AG Pits State Code Against International Treaty

The terms of a US-signed international treaty require participants to allow observers in on their elections – but that conflicts with Texas Electoral Code.
Credit http://www.flickr.com/snurb/

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been making waves in international waters. Abbott and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international watchdog group, have been clashing all week.

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Texas
8:47 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Abbott Sides With East Texas Cheerleaders in Bible Verses Case

A judge is expected to decide today if a group of cheerleaders can use Bible verses at public high school football games.
KUHF

A Hardin County Judge is expected to rule today on whether to allow a group of high school cheerleaders to continue to display Bible verses at football games.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders are seeking a temporary injunction after Kountze Independent School District officials told the cheerleaders they could no longer use scripture on banners. An atheist group complained about the displays.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’ll defend the East Texas cheerleaders.

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Politics
1:09 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

The Elephants in the Room: Perry, Abbott and the 2014 Governor's Race

Attorney General Abbott and Gov. Perry met as friends today. We'll see where they are in 2014.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

The question emerged the moment Gov. Rick Perry ended his 2012 presidential campaign: Would he run for governor again in 2014?

So far, Gov. Perry has deflected the question by saying he won't make an announcement any sooner than June 2013 – once the upcoming legislative session is finished.

But earlier this week one of the Governor's advisors, former state senator Ken Armbrister, told a crowd at the University of Texas that Perry would be running again in 2014.

The governor's office quickly knocked down that assertion, saying Perry is the only person who will be make that announcement. And Perry’s office reiterated, once again, that any announcement won't come any sooner than June.

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AM Update: 9/10/12
8:47 am
Mon September 10, 2012

AM Update: Single-Sex Schools, Controversial Highway, Texas vs. the Feds

The AISD School Board is looking into turning Pearce Middle School into a single-sex school.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It's back to work and school today but with cooler temperatures highs in the mid-90s. Here's a look at some of the big stories developing today:

AISD Looks at Single-Sex Education Options

The Austin  School Board is taking another look at single-sex middle schools this evening.

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen had wanted to create single-sex schools at Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools as soon as next school year. But the idea met resistance from some school board members and parents. If the board decides to go forward with the plan, it won’t go into effect until at least 2014-2015.

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Politics
12:17 pm
Mon September 3, 2012

Attorney General Rides a Losing Streak

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott, the state’s ambitious and litigious attorney general, is on a losing streak.

Federal courts in Washington ruled against him in two crucial voting rights cases last week, first finding that the redistricting maps drawn by the Republican Legislature didn’t protect minority voters as the law requires, and then ruling the state’s tough new photo voter ID law unfairly burdens minority voters.

Neither ruling appears to be a threat to the elections now under way. In the case of redistricting, the state’s maps were replaced this year with interim maps prepared by another set of federal judges. In the case of voter ID, there doesn’t appear to be enough time for the courts to turn around an appeal and order the new standards before November.

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AM Update 7/26/12
8:25 am
Thu July 26, 2012

AM Update: Fire Dept. Hiring Spree, Unlawful Immigration Services, Juvenile Transfers Continue

A new grant will allow AFD to hire dozens of firefighters.
KUT News

AFD Gets Money to Hire More Firefighters

The Austin Fire Department is getting more than $5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hire 36 firefighters.

The FEMA grant will help AFD staff four people on every engine – that’s the standard set by the National Fire Protection Agency.

The money will cover the salaries of the firefighters for the first two years. AFD will take over the cost in year three.

Austin Organization Charged With Providing Unlawful Services

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged an Austin group with providing unlawful immigration services and defrauding its clients.

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AM Update 7/25/12
8:13 am
Wed July 25, 2012

AM Update: The Future of The Colorado, TaxMasters Client Information, Border Fences Get Green Light

Austin Youth River Watch found low levels of Oxygen in the Colorado River.
Austin Youth River Watch

Stakeholders Consider Colorado River's Future

A public meeting today will focus on the future of the Colorado River in Travis and Bastrop Counties.

Data released by Austin Youth River Watch earlier this month suggests that the health of the river’s ecosystem might be in jeopardy. The group discovered low levels of oxygen in the water and that could be bad for fish and other wildlife.

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AM Update
9:01 am
Wed May 23, 2012

AM Update: APD Officer No-Billed, Abbott Backs Off Some Voter ID Trial Demands, Free Slurpees

Texas AG Greg Abbott drops opposition to Voter ID depositions; get your free Slurpee while supplies last; and an APD officer was not charged in a fatal 2011 shooting.
Abbott and police photos by KUT News; Slupree image courtesy 7-eleven.com

Austin Police Officer No-Billed in Fatal Shooting

An Austin Police officer will not face charges after fatally shooting a man last year.

A Travis County Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Steven Peña.

Police say Peña shot Gilberto Vallejo last May after Vallejo fired a weapon at police. Police were responding to a call in Southeast Austin on a report that Vallejo was trying to shoot his way into an apartment to get to an ex-girlfriend.

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AM Update
8:20 am
Tue May 8, 2012

AM Update: Voter ID Trial Delayed, Longhorns Arrested Downtown, Paul Qui Wins James Beard Award

In 2011, Gov. Rick Perry signed SB14, Texas' Voter ID law.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/texasgovernor

Texas’ Voter ID Law in Legal Limbo

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that if Texas does not hand over requested documentation by Wednesday, the trial on Texas’ Voter ID Law will most likely be delayed. A delay in the trial means that Texas will not see the law implemented in time for the November election, according to the Texas Tribune.

The trial was scheduled to start July 9, until yesterday’s decision. The DOJ is specifically requesting information on voters and state databases; the state has until Wednesday to comply, says the Tribune.

KUT News previously reported that the DOJ had previously used demographic and census data to argue the  law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.

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Voter ID
4:18 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Justice Department Blasts Texas Voter ID Law

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (l) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have clashed over Voter ID requirements.
Holder photo courtesy Justice Department; Abbott photo courtesy Texas Attorney General

The U.S. Department of Justice says a Texas law requiring most people to show ID before they can vote will discriminate against minorities.

In court documents filed today, the department says there is substantial evidence that minorities will be affected the most:

Among other evidence, records produced by the State of Texas indicate that S.B. 14 will disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters who currently lack necessary photo identification and that minority registered voters will be disproportionately affected by the law, based on both a greater likelihood of lacking a required form of photo identification and a lesser ability to obtain a necessary identification.

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