Jill Ament

Texas Standard Producer
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From Texas Standard:

In presidential election years past, Democrats weren't willing to spend a lot of money on political ads in Texas because winning in the state was a long shot. But this year is different. Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign recently spent $6 million on online advertisement in Texas, similar to what President Donald Trump's campaign has spent.

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El gobernador Greg Abbott flexibilizó las reglas en el estado para visitar los asilos, residencias de ancianos y otras instalaciones de cuidado a largo plazo. Las nuevas guías de visita comienzan a regir este jueves.

Texas Elder Care Visitation Rules Relaxed

Sep 21, 2020
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From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed state visitation to nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term facilities. The new visitation rules start on Thursday.

Since March, many families have been unable to visit their loved ones who live in group care facilities, to keep the coronavirus from spreading. In August, the rules were relaxed to allow visitors to facilities that did not have anyone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

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From Texas Standard:

Members of the Texas Association of School Administrators are worried that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's recent opinion about school reopenings amid the pandemic created more confusion than clarity. In a statement the association released Thursday, the group said Paxton "muddied the waters" when he said that local health authorities don't have the right to shut down schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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From Texas Standard:

Applicants to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program are facing more uncertainty after the Trump administration announced this week that it would reject all new applications to the program. That came after dozens of young, potential DACA recipients in Houston filed a lawsuit against the federal government earlier this month. The plaintiffs are moving ahead with their lawsuit amid the Trump administration decision.

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From Texas Standard:

Late Thursday, a sweeping police reform measure passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and make it easier to hold police liable if sued, was largely approved along party lines. Mostly Democrats voted in favor.

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La histórica decisión de este lunes de la Corte Suprema que protege a los trabajadores LGBTQ de ser despedidos por su orientación sexual podría alentar especialmente a un grupo de legisladores de Texas a presionar por protecciones similares a nivel estatal.

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From Texas Standard:

The Texas A&M University System will reopen for in-person classes in the fall. That includes classes at its flagship campus in College Station as well as 10 others across Texas. But the campus experience won't be the same as it was before the pandemic.

hospital treatment rooms
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From Texas Standard:

According to recent reports by the Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 1 million Texans are projected to lose their health insurance because of the economic recession in the U.S. caused by the coronavirus. That's in addition to the approximately 5 million people – equivalent to about 18% of the state's population– who are already uninsured.

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La reapertura gradual del estado de Texas por parte del gobernador Greg Abbott tiene como objetivo que los tejanos vuelvan a trabajar por fases. Pero ese proceso no ha sido ni sencillo ni coherente.

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From Texas Standard:

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Texas, state and local officials have had to make difficult decisions to protect Texans' health and safety. Some of those decisions have had dire economic consequences.

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Con tantos tejanos sin trabajo debido a las órdenes de quedarse en casa por el COVID-19, los bancos de alimentos se han sumado a los esfuerzos en  la primera línea de respuesta en el estado. El aumento de la demanda está empujando a los bancos de alimentos de Texas al límite, ya que ellos también esperan que les llegue la tan necesitada ayuda estatal y federal.

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From Texas Standard:

Anyone can become infected with COVID-19. But as the disease spreads across the United States, it's affecting a disproportionate number of African Americans. In Texas, the full picture of that disparity is unclear because the state only has demographic data for about one quarter of all COVID-19 cases.

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From Texas Standard:

Just as it was in 2016, health care is an important issue for voters as they prepare to cast ballots in primaries and in November's general election. And health care is an especially relevant topic in Texas, as the state continues to opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and faces rural hospital closures and high maternal mortality rates.

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From Texas Standard:

Copper workers in Amarillo have been striking for four months and will likely continue. About 150 union members are protesting ASARCO's plan to freeze pensions and increase health insurance costs.

Gabriel Cristover Perez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

With six major flooding events and disaster declarations in each of the past five years, Houston is facing a new normal when it comes to risk from a changing environment. Now, the city is looking to create what Mayor Sylvester Turner calls a "resilient city" with a new, 186-page master plan.

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From Texas Standard:

As the impeachment trial was getting underway in Washington, KXAN-TV in Austin reported that online searches within Texas for "impeachment" were high in some surprising, and not so surprising, places. They included Austin, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, Corpus Christi and Victoria.

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From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services recently released new internal guidelines that cut the caseloads of foster care workers who have been overwhelmed for years by an unmanageable number of clients. But the department has faced many challenges lately, beyond a struggling workforce.

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In the boxing ring he was known as "Big George." But today, most people know George Foreman for his business ventures. Foreman has helped sell millions of George Foreman Grills, which were first introduced in 1994 and are still on the market today.

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From Texas Standard:

Like few other Texans in recent years, one former El Paso congressman is known to many by his first name alone. But that extraordinary name recognition, and even an unexpectedly close Senate race against Ted Cruz in 2018, wasn't enough to propel Beto O'Rourke to the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, O'Rourke is focused on getting more Democrats elected in Texas.

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From Texas Standard:

The Texas General Land Office has proposed a plan to help mitigate damage from Hurricane Harvey – damage that some homeowners are still dealing with over two years later. Over $4 billion in federal community development block grants will go to those affected. But first, local governments have to figure out how, exactly, to spend the money.

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From Texas Standard:

Many Texas political watchers would agree that the 2019 legislative session was surprisingly tame. Legislation about divisive social issues – especially about bathroom access for transgender people, which dominated the session in 2017 – seemed to be a thing of the past. But recently, a custody case in Texas involving a 7-year-old child whose mother identifies the child as transgender has divided some along political lines.

The Bastrop County Complext Fire in 2011
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From Texas Standard:

Randy Jamieson lives in the River Place development in Northwest Austin – what developers call a “master-planned” community. About 4,000 people live there, and the city of Austin recently annexed it. With its location near Lake Travis, real estate agents pitch the area as desirable for homebuyers looking for “Hill Country” and “Lakeside” views. But Jamieson feels nervous about living there.

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From Texas Standard:

Most discussions about the high cost of college focus on tuition and fees. But in some places, including the University of Texas at Austin, housing can be an even bigger cost. 

Photo courtesy of Albert Prieto-Márquez, Miquel Crusafont Catalonian Institute of Paleontology

From Texas Standard:

A dinosaur fossil has stumped scientists ever since they found it in Big Bend National Park in the early 1980s. Now, 30 years later, paleontologists report that new data helped them determine that the fossil actually belongs to a whole new dinosaur species.

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University

From Texas Standard

Wimberley Independent School District in Central Texas is moving forward with the construction of a new environmentally friendly school. The project focuses on the conservation of water.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday, most of Texas is completely drought-free. That's a stark change from where the state was this time last year, let alone the extreme drought conditions of years past. But even as drought pressure has abated, water remains both a valuable and scarce resource in Texas, making it significant that this Hill Country elementary school is being constructed as the most water-efficient in the state.

Nick Dornak is the director of Watershed Services at Texas State University's Meadows Center. He says the school will be the first “one water” school in the state, incorporating water and wastewater treatment directly into the building.

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From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

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From Texas Standard:

Though he hasn't made an official announcement, Texas Monthly recently reported that Joaquin Castro could soon announce plans to challenge John Cornyn for his Senate seat in 2020. If Castro runs, his own seat in Congress will be open. He represents a district that's been solidly Democratic for years, and now some are speculating about who would run to replace him. 

Gilbert Garcia, metro columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, has been pondering the musical-chairs game of sorts that a Castro Senate bid could set in motion.

Garcia says San Antonio comprises five congressional districts, and that the 20th is the one Democrats covet most.

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From Texas Standard:

College has become a prerequisite for most high-paying jobs in the U.S., but college itself is out of reach for millions, and that number is growing. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that in the past 10 years, student loan debt has grown by more than 100 percent. People ages 19 to 29 hold more than $1 trillion in student debt, and that's just the Millennial generation. With a wide-open Democratic primary field, it's almost certain that college affordability will be an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Adam Harris writes in The Atlantic that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have focused their attention on how to make college affordable in the future,  proposing free college tuition or policies that would allow students to leave school without debt.

Harris says that prior to the 2016 election, momentum had been building nationally for some sort of free college program. But once Donald Trump was elected president, that momentum shifted to the states.

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