Texas

News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks in the final regular season game for each team. After, Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki answered questions from the press. Nowitzki is used to press conferences; he's attended plenty during his 21 seasons in the NBA. But this one was different because it was his last. Nowitzki had announced his retirement just the day before.

Texas Standard's Michael Marks was at the game, and says he bought his ticket to the Maverick’s last game months ago in case Nowitzki planned to retire. Marks grew up in the Dallas area, and says Nowitzki was his sports hero.

Lynda M. González for KUT

From Texas Standard:

As thousands of Central American migrants wait in Texas border cities for their immigration hearings, some of them are also awaiting health care services. Anna Maria Barry-Jester, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, says there’s a network of volunteer doctors in El Paso who are providing care, but it's been a struggle.  

Photo courtesy of Fred Renk

From Texas Standard:

It’s hard to miss the large colosseum-like structure off Ranch Road 1017 in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s the Santa Maria Bullring, and it’s where Fred and Lisa Renk have been running bloodless bullfights for the past 19 years.

Margaret Nicklas/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

With Tax Day just five days away, on April 15, some may be scrambling to make a payment, or just trying to get all the right forms filled out. While tax season can be stressful for many, it doesn’t affect most people's health. But it can, for families living in poverty.

Proponents of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana say fewer tax dollars will be spent housing people in county jails for nonviolent crimes.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Lawmakers of all political stripes were chomping at the bit this session to file — or sign onto — bills that would decriminalize or lessen the criminal penalties for Texans found with small amounts of marijuana.

Pexels

From Texas Standard:

Human trafficking is more common than some may think, and experts say it can take place in an average neighborhood with people who may operate undetected. In Texas, it’s especially common: The state has the second-highest number of cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Now, experts warn, it’s on the rise nationwide, which means even more survivors could be looking for help.

Miguel Gutierrez / Texas Tribune

The former UT Austin men's tennis coach will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for receiving money to recruit an unqualified student to the university's tennis team in 2015, the Department of Justice said.

Michael Center was put on administrative leave the day he was indicted on two charges of mail fraud for accepting $60,000 personally in the scheme and was later fired. He also received $40,000 on behalf of the university's tennis program, authorities say.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A national nonprofit says Texas’ system for putting holds on driver licenses is unconstitutional and is threatening to take the state to court as lawmakers decide the program's future this legislative session.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

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.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn speaks at the Texas State Republican Convention 2018 on June 15, 2018.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas Democrats are launching a multi-million-dollar initiative to help take down U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, regardless of who they ultimately choose as their nominee next year.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Massive flood damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey brought attention to some failing dams in the Houston area. Now, it appears the problem is statewide.

Roy Luck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the second time in a month, a fire broke out this week at a petrochemical plant near Houston. This time, it was at the KMCO plant in Crosby where one person died and two others were injured.

Worker Killed In Second Chemical Fire In Texas In Less Than A Month

Apr 2, 2019
Smoke pouring from a chemical warehouse in Crosby, Texas Tuesday morning.
Harris County Fire Marshal's Office

A tank holding a flammable chemical caught fire at a Texas plant Tuesday, killing one worker, critically injuring two others and sending employees fleeing over a fence to safety.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would close some or all of the U.S. border with Mexico this week “[i]f Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration.” There are over 40 U.S.-Mexico border crossings and more than 300 ports of entry, and experts predict their closure would affect more than $1.7 billion worth of commerce every day. Areas along the U.S.-Mexico border would experience the most direct impact, but ripple effects could spread beyond the region.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday said it will begin returning more migrants to Mexico after they apply for asylum in the U.S. and ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to speed up the redeployment of its agents to help the Border Patrol process a growing surge of migrants arriving at the border.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard

A federal judge in Arizona on Thursday sentenced Border Patrol agent Marco De La Garza Jr. to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine. De La Garza had been indicted on three counts of passport fraud and making false statements on his application for a federal background check.

Steve Earle's Guy Clark Tribute Celebrates A Songwriting Craftsman

Mar 29, 2019
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX

From Texas Standard:

Steve Earle has been a lot of things: an actor, an award-winning musician and one of the more famous Texas natives to call New York City home. It's been a long time since the days when he was knocking around Texas as a protégé of Townes Van Zandt.

About 10 years ago, Earle and his band, the Dukes, recorded a tribute to his mentor and partner in crime, called Townes.

Companies Express Opposition To 'Bathroom Bill 2.0'

Mar 29, 2019
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court's decision in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple left open a larger question of whether a business can discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community based on the religious principles of the businessperson.

Now, Texas lawmakers want to provide licensed professionals in Texas with legal cover in the event they are accused of discriminating on the basis of the businessperson's religious beliefs.  

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

For years, short-term rentals – the rooms and homes on apps like Airbnb and HomeAway – have been the subject of lawsuits and hand-wringing on the part of regulators and people looking to rent out properties.

Miguel Gutierrez / Texas Tribune

The U.S. House’s main investigative committee has opened an inquiry into the Texas secretary of state’s review of the voter rolls for supposed noncitizens.

Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Wednesday, as the House took up the budget debate.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.

Terry McCombs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

After over a year without a superintendent, Houston ISD seemed ready to name a finalist in their search on Monday. However, a state-appointed overseer called a halt to the process, and now the district is back to square one.

Two Bills Aim To Bring Broadband To Rural Texas

Mar 26, 2019
vgivanov/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

In the 1930s, a young congressman named Lyndon Johnson decided he wanted to do something grand – on the scale of his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He pushed for rural electrification, i.e., bringing electricity to remote areas that didn't yet have power – both in Texas and across the country. Today, there's a similar urban-rural divide when it comes to broadband internet access.

As thousands of migrant parents and children continue to stream across the U.S.-Mexico border every day, the Border Patrol is bringing in more agents and asking the Pentagon for additional help.

The Border Patrol says it needs more manpower to care for the migrants — more of whom are coming with infectious illnesses. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says agents are on track to stop nearly 100,000 people crossing illegally this month — far exceeding last month's total.

NDU Audio Visual/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The longtime president of the University of Texas at El Paso, Diana Natalicio, is stepping down after more than 30 years on the job. But some are concerned about the UT System Board of Regents' choice as the sole finalist to replace Natalicio as UTEP president, Heather Wilson.

Toshiyuki IMAI/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In 2016, a groundskeeper from California named Edwin Hardeman filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, an agribusiness company that's since been acquired by Bayer. Hardeman had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he claimed that using the popular weed killer called Roundup for the past two decades partly led to him contracting cancer. Earlier this week, a jury agreed with his claim.

Rap325/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

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.

Andi Lichterfelde/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. population is aging, and many older adults have, or will have, some form of dementia. Right now, the health care workforce is not prepared to meet their needs, says sociologist Christopher Johnson. But Johnson is particularly poised to help fix the problem, as professor at the country's first master's of science program in dementia and aging studies, at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Photo by Jarekt https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/wiki/User:Jarekt

From Texas Standard:

Tuesday, after five years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in a challenge to rules allowing the federal government to detain immigrants with criminal convictions, even if they entered the U.S. lawfully, and even after they have served their time. The decision prevents such an immigrant from appealing a detention decision, and could allow indefinite detention.

Dozens Of Rattlesnakes Removed From Under Texas Home

Mar 20, 2019
Forty-five rattlesnakes were pulled from under a home near Albany, Texas last week.
Big Country Snake Removal / Facebook

A Texas homeowner who reported seeing "a few" snakes under his home actually had dozens of rattlesnakes living beneath his house.

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