Texas

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

Stella M Chávez / KERA News

From Texas Standard:

Over the past two years, four mass shootings in Texas have resulted in 65 deaths. Now, some lawmakers are proposing changes to existing gun-related laws, and even new ones, to try to curb the violence.

The dam at Lake McQueeny, near Seguin, is one of four remaining in the Guadalupe River Valley in Central Texas that are at risk of failure.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

SEGUIN — Texas officials will start draining four lakes next week in Guadalupe County in Central Texas without a plan in place for when the lakes, and the 90-year-old dams that support them, will be rebuilt.

Migrants from Honduras apprehended by Border Patrol
Julia Reihs / KUT

A federal district judge has reissued a nationwide block of a White House rule aimed at denying asylum to immigrants who didn’t first seek refuge apply in another country before reaching the United States.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Johns Hopkins University researchers recently analyzed hospital fees nationwide and found that Texas had the country’s highest health care markup ratio. Those ratios were highest in Brownsville-Harlingen, Laredo and El Paso. A markup ratio is what a hospital charges for a service, compared to the Medicare "allowable amount" – the rate that the federal government determines a service is worth.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Shelly Brisbin/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Sara Hickman is known for her contributions to Texas music. In addition to her own recordings and performances, she served a term as Texas State Musician. Now, she's celebrating the Lone Star State's music in a new way – by publishing a coloring book. 

TankedBevo of ShaggyBevo.com/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)

From Texas Standard:

Plenty of issues divide Texans, but there are a few topics on which many can find common ground. They might include barbecue, Willie Nelson and the Tyler Rose – Earl Campbell.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Jesus Rosales for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued eight executive orders in response to last month’s mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa.

Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

Students in Odessa returned to class on Tuesday, many of them dressed in yellow. It was planned by Odessa High School’s student council to show support, and convey a sense of hope, after the recent mass shooting that killed one of their classmates, 15-year-old Leilah Hernandez.

Mitch Borden/Marfa Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

Odessa Mayor David Turner says the aftermath of the mass shooting in his city has been difficult and community members are in shock, but they have also jumped into action to support each other.

Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

Brooks Landgraf, who represents Odessa in the Texas House, says the last couple days have been “absolutely heartbreaking.” But, he says, he's also heartened by how people came together to show support for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting.

Vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Odessa.
Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

Hundreds of residents from across the Permian Basin came together as the sun began to set Sunday, to pray and honor the victims of this weekend’s mass shooting that left eight people dead — including the gunman — and more than 20 others injured.

8 New Gun Laws Take Effect In Texas Today

Sep 1, 2019
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

At least seven people were killed and another 20 were injured in a mass shooting that stretched in and around Midland and Odessa, Texas, Saturday. The incident was the second mass shooting in that state in less than a month, following a shooting in El Paso, on Aug. 3.

DPS troopers block the road at a shooting scene in Odessa, Texas.
Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

Seven people were killed and more than 20 others were injured Saturday afternoon by a man shooting at random near the West Texas cities of Odessa and Midland, the Odessa Police Department said. 

Scurzuzu/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

New rules from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulating payday lenders were supposed to take effect on Aug. 19. The rules – laid out in 2017 – would have regulated lenders' ability to withdraw funds directly from a person's bank account. Those rules are on hold for now as the agency and a payday lender trade group challenge it in court.

In Texas, nearly 70 cities have their own rules regulating payday and other high-interest loans. But there's one notable holdout: Fort Worth is Texas' largest city with no laws on the books that regulate payday and auto title lenders.

Kenneth Leverier
Jen Rice / Houston Public Media

It's been two years since Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, and some residents are still struggling to fix their homes and navigate a complex maze to get help. Kenneth Leverier has owned his house in Trinity Gardens for 15 years and says it never flooded until Harvey. 

The crowd at 1969's International Pop Festival
Mark Porter

From Texas Standard:

In August 1969, Henry Kissinger met in secret to try and end the Vietnam War. Hurricane Camille struck the Mississippi coast, killing over 250 people. The Manson family went on a murderous rampage through Los Angeles. And amid the turmoil, Billy Kirby was just kind of hanging out.

Photo courtesy of Aspergers101

From Texas Standard:

Getting pulled over by a police officer can be unsettling for anyone. But it can be especially stressful for someone with a communication issue.

Not being able to answer an officer's question could put that person at risk if the officer misinterprets their behavior.

Interior of the Texas Capitol
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

This Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways. Here's a sample of several that will impact Texans' lives:

Valerie/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Froylan Hernandez has spent the better part of the last two months counting sheep from a helicopter. That’s not a metaphor or a kind of experimental sleep study; it’s his job.

Amy the Nurse/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

From Texas Standard:

The news that four lakes on the Guadalupe River will be drained next month has residents living along those lakes up in arms. 

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, or GRBA, is taking this extraordinary action over concerns about the failures of aging dams. Now, a group of people living along one of those lakes says they want to fight the decision in court.

Flowers and candles line a memorial for the victims of the El Paso shooting outside the Walmart where the massacre happened on Aug. 3.
Armando Morales

When the alleged gunman walked into an El Paso Walmart earlier this month to carry out the worst massacre of Hispanic people in recent American history, he went in with an assault weapon he said he bought from Romania, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety report obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and a secretly recorded conversation with conservative blogger and activist Michael Quinn Sullivan continues to roil the statehouse.

Mr.schultz /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Houston-raised football star Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL over the weekend, surprising many observers and sports fans. 

Courtesy of Southwest Key

Texas Health and Human Services has confirmed that applications have come in for two new shelters that would hold migrant youth who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without a guardian.  

The unaccompanied minor facilities are slated for the Rio Grande Valley, in McAllen and Los Fresnos. 

New Texas Laws Address Topics Ranging From Guns And Cigarettes To Lemonade

Aug 26, 2019
A lemonade stand
Christopher Penn / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) www.ChristopherSPenn.com

From Texas Standard:

A number of new laws passed this spring by the Legislature will take effect Sept. 1. They represent changing political winds in the Lone Star State.

The First Baptist Church in Refugio
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast two years ago Sunday. The Rev. T. Wayne Price remembers his lowest point – returning two days after the storm to the First Baptist Church of Refugio.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday convened the first meeting of the newly formed Texas Safety Commission, ramping up the state's efforts to devise policy solutions in the wake of the deadly shooting targeting immigrants and Hispanics earlier this month in El Paso.

Trey Shaar / KUT

A number of the targets of Friday's ransomware attacks are back to normal operations, the Texas Department of Information Resources said.

The department said more than a quarter of the targets have "transitioned to remediation and recovery." It also said the number of local government entities affected is down from 23 to 22.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Most discussions about the high cost of college focus on tuition and fees. But in some places, including the University of Texas at Austin, housing can be an even bigger cost. 

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