Texas classrooms could be hit hard by federal sequestration cuts – automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs that will go into effect on March 1 if Congress doesn’t pass a deficit reduction bill.
In Texas, the largest cuts would happen to public education, with $517 million dollars automatically cut according to the Texas Education Agency.
The Texas Department of Transportation has received approval to use explosives to demolish the 80-year-old U.S. 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls in March. Workers have already begun to take down streetlights, guardrails and parts of the bridge structure.
Kelli Reyna with TxDOT says that using explosives will speed up the process.
Despite recent rains, Texas state parks continue to feel the effects of the ongoing drought. That’s according to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s executive director Carter Smith, who spoke today at the House Natural Resources Committee Meeting at the State Capitol.
Round Rock-based Dell is defending its decision to go private, despite growing concerns from some major shareholders.
Dell issued a statement today reasserting that taking the computer maker private is the best move for the company. "In the course of its deliberations, the Special Committee of Dell’s Board considered an array of strategic alternatives," the statement reads. "The Board concluded that the proposed all-cash transaction is in the best interests of stockholders."
The Moody’s credit rating agency says last week’s Texas school finance ruling could have a negative effect on the state’s credit rating. Last week, a state district court ruled that the present school finance system is unconstitutional, in part because it inadequately funds public schools.
Moody’s is not downgrading Texas’ coveted triple-A credit rating, but the report suggests that could all change if the state is forced to tap its reserves to overhaul the school finance system.
The 2013 Texas Legislature is running behind last session when it comes to bill filings, according to legislative reporting service Telicon.
The firm reports 476 fewer bills have been filed this legislative session, compared to this time in the 2011 session. The 27 percent drop is partially to blame on 2011 being a big year for ideological legislative filings, said UT government professor Jim Henson.
The Travis County Fire Marshal is cracking down on buildings that violate the fire code. Last week the Fire Marshal’s office issued twelve violation notices for six buildings in North Austin. Each structure had been built without a permit and occupied prior to approval.
Yesterday’s bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the immigration system has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle. In Texas, one question remains: is immigration good or bad for business?
The proposal from eight U.S. Senators calls for increased border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.
Two of three brothers convicted in Austin of a federal money-laundering conspiracy have been sentenced.
Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison, while Hadi Yassine drew a 5 year prison term today. Prosecutors accused the two of using their nine downtown Austin bars to launder more than $200,000 in what they believed to be proceeds from drug trafficking.
Yassine Enterprises used to be Austin's biggest nightclub operator. Their portfolio of bars included Malaia, Treasure Island and Pure.
The City of Austin has started a new program to welcome foreigners moving to town.
The Welcome to Austin program provides language resources, offers local advice and teaches newcomers how to navigate the city's local schools, law enforcement and public transportation. Here's a look at the agenda.
A small school district in East Texas became the second in the state to allow some staff members to carry concealed handguns. The school board at Union Grove ISD – just outside Longview – voted this week to allow trained staff members access firearms in the event of an armed intruder.
“It is up to the discretion of the local board," said Texas Education Agency spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe. "There’s a provision in the Texas Penal Code that basically says schools are a gun free zone unless the school board adopts a policy that permits it.”
Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond testified in the ongoing school finance trial yesterday, saying that Texas businesses can’t find applicants that have the academic and professional skills required. Hammond says that the most educated segment of Texas’ workforce is the soon-to-be retired.
Update: The Travis County Commissioners scheduled to take action today on a controversial proposal to ban gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center and other county-owned facilities.
Commissioners will take up the topic at 10 a.m.
Original Post (Jan. 7, 6:04 p.m.): There’s a gun show at the Travis County Exposition Center about once a month, but that may come to an end. On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners will consider a measure that would no longer allow gun shows on county land or at county facilities.
In the wake of school shootings -- Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst says he wants government-funded weapons training for teachers. Dewhurst is asking State Senators to explore such a program and provide recommendations.
"The training involved with the concealed handgun law license is not sufficient in my judgment to have that person trained for an event involving an active shooter," Dewhurst said.
The park had been fully or partially closed for the festivals and maintenance since early October. Officials say there shouldn’t be any chain-link fencing to get in park-goers’ way until the run-up for the two-weekend ACL festival later this year.
Two professors at the University of Texas have won the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists, engineers and inventors by the U.S. government. They are only the fourth and fifth UT faculty members to win the prize since 1962.
Doctor Allen Bard, a professor in the Chemistry Department at UT, received the award for his outstanding achievement in electrochemistry. He developed an electrochemical microscope that analyzes the chemical makeup of very small surfaces.
Update: Suddenlink says it has come to an agreement with Fox, at least in principle. Here's a statement sent out last night by Suddenlink's director of corporate communications, Gene Regan:
Suddenlink has reached an agreement in principle with News Corp/Fox for the continued carriage of its TV stations and cable networks. The current agreement between the companies has been extended for another week while they work out the details of the new agreement. Specific terms of the new agreement were not disclosed.
Original story: If you subscribe to Suddenlink cable service, you may lose Fox 7 and other Fox cable networks at midnight. Suddenlink’s current agreement with Fox ended at the end of 2011 and the two companies haven’t yet reached a new agreement.
The new U.S. Senator for Texas – Republican Ted Cruz – was sworn in today in Washington, D.C.
In a conference call with reporters, Cruz said he’s ready to use the debt ceiling as a negotiating point to reduce government spending, even though President Obama said raising the borrowing limit should not be up for debate.
The Senate redistricting committee met today to hear public testimony on a new proposed Senate map. The new boundaries will likely change the political makeup of several districts.
Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) argued that the new map breaks apart districts populated by minority voters and violates the Voting Rights Act. Davis said that a black voting block in southeast Fort Worth and Hispanic voters in the northern part of District 10 would be broken apart.
The Texas House voted 94-29 this afternoon to create a “Choose Life” Texas license plate. An identical bill has already passed the Senate. Revenue generated from the license plate will go to support organizations that provide counseling for mothers considering adoption.
Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), the author of the House version of the bill, says that the license plate’s message isn’t political.
“We’re not limiting anybody’s viewpoint. This choose life license plate is going to go benefit adoptions,” Rep. Phillips told his colleagues on the House floor today.