Texas

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

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

As high school football season moves into playoffs, another kind of competition is taking place: the Texas University Scholastic League’s marching band contests. And though most people are familiar with what’s called “corps band” – those half-time shows with catchy pop tunes and elaborate props –  another marching tradition is part of the competition, too.

torbakhopper/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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.

A "vote here" sign
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court has overturned a previous ruling that could have opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.

Is There A New Bock in Town? Shiner Says No.

Nov 12, 2019
Karen /Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The name Shiner is synonymous with the bock beer that's been brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in the small Texas town of Shiner for more than 100 years.

But now, the name of another bock is appearing around town, plastered onto large billboards promoting Karbach, a beer produced in Houston. The Anheuser-Busch InBev conglomerate – also the parent company of Budweiser -- recently acquired Karbach, and that's not sitting well with some folks in Shiner.

Erin Douglas is a business reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She says the Spoetzl Brewery responded to the new billboards with an open letter to Karbach.

A rally at the governor's mansion in support of Rodney Reed
Julia Reihs / KUT

In his five years as Texas' governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man's life.

With 'Mucho Mucho Amor,' Astrologer Walter Mercado Is Laid To Rest At 87

Nov 8, 2019
Courtesy, Walter Mercado Documentary

From Texas Standard:

To close every show, astrologist and TV personality Walter Mercado used a special and genuine catch phrase: “Bendiciones para todos y que Dios me los bendiga a todos y que reciban de mi paz, mucha paz - pero sobre todo - mucho, mucho amor!” 

He wished his audience peace and lots and lots of love. 

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Did you know that the monarch butterfly is the Texas state insect? They flutter through the state this time of year when they migrate from Canada to Mexico. But their populations are dwindling. What's more, entomologists are finding masses of dead monarchs, with their unmistakable black and orange wings, on the side of Texas highways.

Texas A&M University professor Robert Coulson led a study about monarch roadkill deaths, and says cars are just one more threat to the insect, in addition to changes in weather, pesticides and more. His team is tracking the number of dead monarchs in order to try to find ways to protect them in the future.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In 2004, the Texas Education Agency put a limit on the percentage of students it would allow into special education programs, which affected thousands. The Houston Chronicle exposed the illegal policy in 2016, and the investigation led to the Texas Legislature barring the agency from imposing such limits. 

Nicolas Henderson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Big universities are sometimes criticized for contributing to a "brain drain" in rural areas because they lure bright minds away from their hometowns – many of whom never return. But a program at the University of Texas at Austin is now trying to boost rural and small-city entrepreneurship.

Campaign workers outside a polling place in Houston
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Texas voters approved nine amendments to the state’s Constitution on Tuesday. Only 12% of registered voters actually cast ballots — a higher percentage from the 2017 election, but still overwhelmingly low overall.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

A new Harvard University study on the state of the nation’s housing found that rapidly escalating land prices make construction of low-cost housing a challenge for many cities. Land prices have increased dramatically in Central Texas in recent years, making it difficult for nonprofits to provide affordable housing to low-income families.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austinites went to the polls Tuesday to vote on 10 amendments to the state constitution, as well as a Travis County proposition and two city measures.

Voters struck down Austin’s Proposition A, a petition-led ordinance that would have forced public votes on most future uses of city-owned land and made the organizations that lease those lands – frequently nonprofits – pay property taxes.

The Bastrop County Complext Fire in 2011
Mose Buchele / KUT

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

DALLAS — Nearly four years after a federal judge first ruled that Texas violated foster children’s civil rights by placing them in a system where rape and over-medication were the norm, it’s high time for the state to stop dragging its feet and start making changes, that same federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Sandra Reed, Rodney Reed's mother, calls for an end to the death penalty and a fair trial for her son at the Texas Capitol on Oct. 19, 2019.
Jolie McCullough / The Texas Tribune

As the execution date nears for a Texas man whose guilt has long been shrouded in doubt, all eyes are shifting from the courts to the governor’s mansion.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

“Out of sight, out of mind.” That’s how the saying goes. And it’s exactly the way wildflowers are right now, for most Texans. But the flowers that beautify state roadsides each spring are not out of mind for the team that makes it happen.

Meet Forrest Smith, with Texas A&M-Kingsville. His research team has put in “decades of work” in search of the perfect seeds for the different climates and soils we have in Texas.

Ghosts Of Galveston May Be Inspiring More Tours Than The City Can Handle

Oct 31, 2019
Galveston ghosts
Flickr.com/July Dominique (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you have ever been to Galveston, you may have noticed something eerie about it -- Galveston County Daily News reporter Kathryn Eastburn says the city seems to have seen more than its fair share of untimely death.

William Munoz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texan, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where New York prosecutors are seeking to prove that Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the costs the company faced because of climate change. Tillerson is Exxon Mobil's former CEO.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texans who want to legally grow industrial hemp are one step closer to making that a reality after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its framework plan for hemp production on Tuesday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library

From Texas Standard:

As Bill Jones and his wife Kathy Murray of Austin found out in 2008, getting sick with murine typhus can be scary business. When a high fever persisted for five days, Jones sought help at a local hospital. There, he spent nine more terrifying days, while doctors searched for an explanation for his symptoms and nearly operated on his liver unnecessarily.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

A growing number of asylum-seekers are setting up makeshift camps on the Mexican side of the southern border, across from El Paso, while they await hearings with U.S. immigration officials. Some wait weeks or even months for that appointment. But now, the Trump administration is testing a secretive program called Prompt Asylum Claim Review to fast-track those hearings.

Bill Abbott / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Perhaps no airline has a greater stake in the fate of the Boeing 737 Max than Texas-based Southwest Airlines, which bought 34 of them before the plane’s design issues made national headlines following two fatal crashes.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Top Texas Republicans have directed the state’s child welfare agency to investigate whether a mother who supports her 7-year-old child’s gender transition is committing “child abuse” — a move that has alarmed an already fearful community of parents of transgender children.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

From Texas Standard:

Travis County named a building in Southeast Austin after Ray Martinez in 2004, but the inclusion of the former Austin police officer's name on the facade didn't tell the whole story. Now, the county is honoring Martinez – and telling his whole story – with a new historical plaque.

Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media

From Texas Standard:

Harris County is negotiating a settlement with plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit that could lead to dramatic changes in the county’s bail system.

Janis Joplin: More Than Just A Great Big Voice

Oct 22, 2019
David Gahr/Getty Images)

From Texas Standard:

Janis Joplin left her Texas home in the early 1960s. She didn't fit in in Port Arthur, where she grew up, and she wanted to make a name for herself as a musician. She did that, and more, becoming the biggest female rock star of the era. Joplin's greatest musical success, the album, "Pearl," was released after her death from a heroin overdose in 1970. She was just 27. 

By Tuesday morning, over 30 House Republicans had already called for the speaker's resignation or pulled their support.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

 

First-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 — completing a stunning fall for the Angleton Republican who enjoyed near unanimous support in the House just months earlier.

Savana Dunning/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The American West isn’t a fixed idea; its scope and definition can change depending on whom you ask. So how does Texas fit into it? University of Texas historian H. W. Brands tries to answer that question and more in his new book, “Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.” In it, he invites readers to rethink the West, how Texas fits into it, and what the West meant to Americans in the past and what it means to them today. 

Sandra Dahdah

From Texas Standard:

Water nourishes us. But it also forms borders between geographic regions, and has even become responsible for migration, as individuals and families make decisions about where to live based on the availability of this critical resource. In Texas Standard's series, "Drop by Drop," reporter Joy Diaz set out to learn how water affects politics, migration, the environment and economics. Diaz says she was motivated to produce the series by the growing importance of water in cross-border issues.

A memorial for the 26 people killed in the Sutherland Springs shooting in 2017.
Lynda M. González / KUT

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A sporting goods retailer violated the law by selling an AR-15-style rifle and large capacity magazine to a man who later used them to kill more than two dozen worshippers at a Texas church in 2017, federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

Devin Patrick Kelley presented a Colorado driver's license at an Academy Sports + Outdoors store in Texas to buy the rifle and ammunition, the Department of Justice said in a motion filed Tuesday in San Antonio.

Pages