Greg Abbott

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo courtesy wallyg, flickr.com/70323761@N00

The U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s set of signature health care reforms, has broad implications for the nation and Texas.

This morning’s hearing on the reforms’ effects has Texas ties. State Attorney General Greg Abbott has argued the national expansion of Medicaid coerces states into compliance, an issue the court is taking up today.  

KUT News’ reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, has created a Storify timeline detailing how yesterday’s discussion of the constitutionality of an individual insurance mandate – which was widely seen as critical of the requirement – reverberated in Texas. 

courtesy flickr.com/comedynose

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vowed that the Texas Women’s Health Program will continue – but questions persist as to where the state will find the money to do so without Washington.

Gov. Perry has tasked the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to work with state legislators to come up with the 30 million dollars needed to fund the program, which provides cancer screenings, health examinations and contraception to tens of thousands of low-income Texas women.

The funds are needed to replace federal Medicaid money that has been pulled out of the program due to a new Texas law that bars clinics that provide abortions or are affiliated with clinics that provide abortions from receiving funding. The federal funds have been pulled because Washington argues the law – designed to keep Planned Parenthood from participating in the program – is illegal.

Sherri Greenberg is a Professor at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. She told KUT News it’s not going to be easy to find the money, given the cuts that were made to the health department in the last legislative session.

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is filing yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this one, no surprise, over the Women's Health Program. 

Photo by KUT News

Texas Challenges Voting Rights Act

Texas is challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that requires the state to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department for any change to voting procedures. Yesterday Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed that petition to a three-judge panel in Washington.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry might run for re-election in 2014, and he could run again for president in 2016.

Isn’t this familiar?

Three years ago, as the legislative session began in January, politically minded Texans talked about whether it would be Perry’s last ride as governor. Lobbyists wondered openly whether they were dealing with a lame duck.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was quietly talking to advisers about a 2010 race for governor, presumably hoping to step into the office after Perry stepped out.

Now it’s Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, who is quietly talking about working in the Texas Capitol’s middle office. The conversation among lobbyists is there, still, along with a bemused and persistent cautionary note: Remember last time, when Perry turned out not to be a lame duck?

Photo courtesy flickr.com/thestarshine

Texas has joined six other states challenging the constitutionality of the federal mandate that requires contraceptive coverage in all employee healthcare benefits.

A fracas erupted earlier this month when Catholic organizations protested a requirement in the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reforms, that employer health insurance would cover contraception. The Texas Tribune reports:

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

If there was any hope that the state was seeking a compromise with the federal government over Texas’ Women’s Health Program, it’s fading fast. At the direction of lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule on Thursday that formally bans Planned Parenthood clinics and other "affiliates of abortion providers" from participating in the program — something the Obama administration has said is a deal-breaker for the nearly $40 million-per-year state-federal Medicaid program. 

The rule, signed by Commissioner Tom Suehs on Thursday, takes effect March 14.  

Voting images by KUT News; Texas Capitol by Lizzie Chen for KUT News; Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

Today is the deadline imposed by a San Antonio court for agreement on redrawn Texas districts. Any further delay, the court warned, and Texas’ primaries could be pushed back even further past their tentative April 3 date.

Word comes from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott this hour that an agreement may be forthcoming on “interim” maps for the 2012 elections. His office released the following statement:

“The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren’t fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today’s maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April,” Attorney General Abbott said.

Photo by KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking to enforce a controversial voter ID requirement passed by the Texas Legislature.

Passed in 2011, the law requires most voters to show a photo ID verifying their identity before they can cast a ballot. Proponents of the measure claim it’s required to clamp down on voter fraud. But critics counter instances of voter fraud are relatively rare, and moreover, the parties most likely affected – minorities, the young, and poorer citizens – often support Democratic candidates over Republican ones.

Image Courtesy of the Texas Office of the Attorney General

A statement issued today by Attorney General Greg Abbott says the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by “timing” and “tailoring” are unlawful and unconstitutional.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rules limiting vehicle emissions are based upon a “legally flawed” conclusion that greenhouse gases are harmful to the public, the State of Texas argued in a brief filed today with the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of nine states and dozens of shipping and manufacturing companies.

Photo by Harley Pebley http://www.flickr.com/photos/hpebley3/

Attorney General Greg Abbott is expected to file an amicus brief this afternoon challenging a court ruling that forbids prayer at a Medina Valley High School’s graduation.

Photo by Gretch Sanders for KUT News.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered nine dietary supplements be recalled by Georgia-based Multi-Mex Distributor.  Among the supplements is Amoxilina, which was subject of a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Nathan Bernier, KUT

Texas and 37 states’ regulators announced today their $68.5 million settlement with AstraZeneca, a British global pharmaceutical company, over its unlawful marketing practices. Texas is expected to receive $3.8 million.

The states charged AstraZeneca with marketing the antipsychotic drug Seroquel for improper uses unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Generally, pharmaceutical manufacturers are not allowed to promote any products without FDA’s approval.

Image courtesy Eliazar Parra Cardenas http://www.flickr.com/photos/eliazar/2345895971/

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott relesed educational materials on to credit card and debt to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The materials, created by the Attorney General’s Office, will be introduced during UTSA’s new student orientation.  In 2007, Texas lawmakers passed a law requiring state colleges and universities to educate students about managing personal finances and to prevent potential debt problems.

Image courtesy lambdachialpha http://www.flickr.com/photos/lambdachialpha/

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is applauding a ruling from a federal district court judge in Virginia that invalidates a key provisions of the new health law.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Kirk Watson of Austin are proposing an initiative to help curb "sexting" in Texas. Sexting is a relatively recent phenomenon where teenagers exchange sexually explicit text messages or images.

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