Texas

George P. Bush - son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nephew of former president George W. Bush - announced today he's running for Texas Land Commissioner.

There's been intense speculation about which office Bush would pursue since he filed paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission late last year without specifying which office he planned to run for.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Should Texas take money from the state’s so-called Rainy Day Fund for water projects? It’s an idea that will get a closer look today.

Lawmakers in the House Appropriations Committee are holding a public hearing this morning on the proposal. The bill would set aside $2 billion from the economic stabilization or "Rainy Day" fund for water projects.

The bill’s author – Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) – says prolonged statewide drought has revealed the importance of developing a dedicated source of revenue for the state’s water plan.

Free Tree Seedlings at the State Capitol Today

Mar 6, 2013
flickr.com/dhwright

The Texas Forestry Association is giving away 5,000 hardwood seedlings near the south steps of the Capitol this morning. The association will begin handing out the trees at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until 11:30 a.m. or until the supply runs out.

The seedling giveaway is a biennial tradition. The TFA began their seedling giveaway during the 72nd legislative session to raise public awareness of the tree planting efforts that take place across the state.

Mike Martinez via Facebook

Supporters of Texas expanding access to Medicaid, among them representatives of Planned Parenthood, marched up Congress Avenue Tuesday to the Capitol steps.

They’re calling on Texas lawmakers to accept Federal money as part of the Affordable Care Act to get healthcare to more than a million Texans who otherwise would not have it.

flickr.com/joegratz and rosenthalwatson.com

Update: Austin attorney Marc G. Rosenthal was convicted by a federal jury late last week. 

A statement from the Southern District of the U.S. Attorney's Office reads in part

After a four-week trial, jurors convicted Rosenthal of conspiring to bribe a state district judge, bribe witnesses in both state and federal court cases, file fraudulent personal injury cases in both state and federal courts, and deprive the citizens of Cameron County, Texas, of the right to honest services of an elected official.

Rosenthal's sentencing is scheduled in June. 

Original Post (1:49 p.m.): The ongoing saga of Marc G. Rosenthal continues winding its way down the rabbit hole. The Austin attorney, and former Mr. Texas bodybuilding champion, is currently on trial in Corpus Christi, accused of leading a conspiracy that turned trials in his favor.

Remembering Van Cliburn

Mar 3, 2013
Van Cliburn Foundation

Funeral services will be held today for one of Texas' most famous classical musicians, Van Cliburn. He died last week at age 78.

Austin author Prudence Mackintosh wrote a beautiful memory of her attempts to contact the pianist before his death, which follows below. Mackintosh came to KUT to talk about Cliburn's legacy.  

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Update: This morning, Jeb Bush had much to say on education reform and potential strategies Texas can use to ensure student achievement. His main point was, basically, if you want success, you have to fund it.

“A lesson we learned is put money behind the reforms and you’ll get better results," Bush said. "There’s enough money in the system. This whole argument that somehow we’re not funding schools adequately and I know it’s a big debate here. I would argue that maybe we should be funding the first things first. Put the priorities where you want to see the results and you’ll get a significantly better result.”

Legendary pianist Van Cliburn has died at his home in Fort Worth, former CEO of the Cliburn Foundation Richard Rodzinski confirms. Cliburn was diagnosed with bone cancer in August. 

flickr.com/indyplanets

Texas lawmakers are trying again to pass a statewide law banning texting while driving. A similar measure passed in the Texas House and Senate last legislative session, but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Today, Texas Rep. Tom Craddick’s House Bill 63 is getting its first public hearing. The bill is going before the House Committee on Transportation.

Emily Donahue, KUT News

Update (6:58 a.m.): About 1,200 Austin Energy customers remain without power this morning. High winds yesterday broke tree limbs and brought down power lines.

At one point yesterday afternoon, around 18,000 Austin Energy customers were without power.

Right now, Austin Energy repair and tree trimming crews are working to fix harder-to-reach problems. An Austin Energy spokesperson tells KUT News that power should be restored to most customers by early this afternoon.

Customers should report outages by calling (512) 322-9100.

Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

After more than a decade representing blood-red Texas in the U.S. Senate, John Cornyn finds himself in an unusual spot: burnishing his conservative credentials.

One would think the senior Texas senator’s reputation would be secure: Cornyn, who has ascended to minority whip, spent two election cycles as chairman of the Senate’s Republican campaign fundraising arm, and National Journal last week ranked him second in its 2012 list of the most conservative senators.

savetxschools.org/photo-gallery

"Save Texas Schools" will march to the Texas State Capitol tomorrow morning. The group hopes to encourage Texas lawmakers to support public education by restoring funding cut from Texas schools last legislative session.

The march will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Congress Avenue and Riverside Drive. The group will march north on Congress to the capitol.

National Weather Service

Lead Story: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Travis County late this morning through this afternoon, due to strong winds. Outdoor burning is strongly discouraged.

The warning is due to the critical fire weather conditions expected today: a pacific cold front bringing breezy winds and dry air to Central Texas. The warning will be in effect from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. You can find more information via the National Weather Service.

Texas Push for European Trade Deal:  Texas stands to benefit from a potential free trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union. That’s according to a study by Waco economist Ray Perryman.

Texas Advocacy Project

The Texas Advocacy Project and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office are launching its annual “Handbags for Hope” drive.

The sixth annual installment of the drive asks Austin-area residents to donate new and gently used handbags to give to domestic violence victims.

City of Bryan

Two Bryan Firefighters remain in serious but stable condition today after a deadly fire on Friday. Two other Bryan firefighters were killed.

Fire Lieutenant Eric Wallace, 36, died in the line of duty and Fire Lieutenant Greg Pickard, 54, passed away late Saturday afternoon as a result of his injuries. Firefighters Ricky Mantey and Mitch Moran are being treated for burns at a Galveston hospital.

Texas Tribune

Good morning, and happy Presidents Day. KUT News has a look at what’s open and closed today: all City of Austin’s administrative offices and other city are closed today, but trash, recycling and yard trimmings pick up will proceed as normal.  

The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a warm, muggy day with a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. High winds will make for elevated fire conditions, so be careful out there. 

Lead Story: The troubles roiling the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) are spreading to other research groups, The Texas Tribune reports.

The Carnival cruise ship Triumph docked in Mobile, Ala., late Thursday night, as the job of towing the stricken 100,000-ton ship hundreds of miles across the Gulf of Mexico took longer than expected. The ship's 3,143 passengers had coped with sewage problems and a lack of ventilation since Sunday, when the Triumph was crippled by an engine room fire.

Updated 2:15 a.m. ET Friday: All Passengers Disembarked

A spokesman for Carnival says all passengers have left the cruise ship that was stranded for days without power and running water.

Luke Quinton for KUT News

Update: The funeral procession of Chris Kyle arrived in Austin around noon. Crowds of watchers lined  Interstate 35 and the Texas State Cemetery with flags and signs.

The procession was escorted by a motorcade which included 200 motorcycles, motor coaches, police cruisers, military personnel and first responders.

At least two Patriot Guard Riders who were riding ahead of the procession on its way to Austin were involved in an accident near Bell County according to Texas Department of Public Safety officials. They remain hospitalized.

Original Story:
Former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle will be buried in Austin today.

More than 3,000 cruise ship passengers who thought they'd be heading home today have instead been told they'll remain in the Gulf of Mexico until Wednesday, stranded by an engine fire that set their ship, the Triumph, adrift. Onboard power and sewer system outages have been reported. The ship, which was 150 miles north of the Yucatan Peninsula when the fire struck early Sunday, has a crew of more than 1,000.

flickr.com/austincameraguy

Services were held for Chad Littleton today at the First Baptist Church in Midlothian, Texas. He, along with former Navy SEAL and best-selling “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle were killed Saturday at a gun range outside of Fort Worth. Kyle was reportedly killed by a fellow veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kyle will be buried Tuesday at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, following a Monday service at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Thousands are expected to attend the public ceremony Monday to remember the man widely recognized as “America’s deadliest sniper.”

flickr.com/shutterdog

With all  the talk of football player safety at the professional level, it's not surprising that some Texas lawmakers are talking about requiring more precautions for younger athletes.

Texas currently allows 30 days of full-contact practice for high school and middle school athletes, but this could soon change.

Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

A drone, no bigger than a toy airplane, hovered north of the Texas Capitol, floating over the heads of lawmakers momentarily distracted from their morning meetings. Several of them gathered beneath it, faces tilted skyward, marveling over a pair of goggles that allowed them to watch live video of the drone’s panoramic bird’s eye view.

More is being learned today about former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and the man accused of killing the decorated Iraq War veteran.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A day after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators offered a plan to fix the country’s immigration system, President Obama offered up his own — and warned lawmakers to get serious about the issue or deal with him.

“If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away,” he told a crowd in Las Vegas.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered his seventh state of the state address to the Texas Legislature Tuesday.

Looking back at Governor Perry’s past speeches, the state of our state has varied from strong, to vibrant, to good, back to strong…and now, "...It is my pleasure to report that the state of our state is stronger than ever," Perry said.

KUT News

With the Texas Legislature in session, thousands of people will visit the capitol to talk with lawmakers and their staffs about bills being debated. But Texas is a giant state, and many Texans can’t make the trip to Austin.

Francis Curry is a member of the United Methodist Women. It’s a group that advocates for several legislative topics, including issues of faith and caring for low-income Texans.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Rick Perry said Texas is “stronger than ever.”

In his address to the 83rd Texas Legislature this morning, Gov. Perry outlined priorities for the session: first and foremost is dispensing “at least” $1.8 billion in tax cuts and possible refunds over the next two years.

Governor Rick Perry is adamant, Texas will not make Medicaid available to more Texans by taking part in a federal program. But recently other Republican governors in Nevada and Arizona have changed their minds, saying they can’t ignore the billions of federal dollars they’d lose by opting out.

Lawmakers in Austin are now debating what Texas should do, including a senator from  Greenville who also wears a stethoscope.  

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Good morning! With highs in the upper-70s, Austin’s in for another day of well-above average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. This weekend should see similar weather, albeit with a little more cloud cover. 

Speaking of the weather: Yesterday’s near record-high temperatures could mean many area plants are at risk of blooming too soon – which could mean a poor year for wildflowers, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Lead story: The chair of the Texas Senate's Health and Human Services Committee says she hopes Washington will allow Texas to receive $27 billion to expand Medicaid to people who can't afford private insurance.

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