Texas

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

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Prepare to be shocked: People keep moving to Texas.

A new Texas Realtors study looking at Census Bureau and U-Haul rental data found more than half a million people relocated to the Lone Star State in 2017 – the second highest number of relocations in the U.S. after Florida. 

Mike Fisher/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A planned liquefied natural gas facility near Brownsville would boost energy export opportunities, but also poses a risk to Texas ocelots.

Eric Gerard McGinnis was not supposed to have a gun. After a violent altercation with his girlfriend, a Texas judge barred him in 2015 from possessing a firearm. A year later, McGinnis tried to buy a gun anyway, but the purchase wouldn't go through after a background check revealed the court order.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley at a state Senate Committee on Nominations hearing on Feb. 7, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Facing an uncertain path to confirmation after ordering a deeply flawed voter citizenship review that seemingly focused on naturalized citizens, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is now apologizing to state lawmakers for the way his office rolled out the review — but he is still holding firm behind the overall effort.

Amazon headquarters building
Robert Scoble/Flickr <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(CC BY 2.0)</a>

From Texas Standard:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is reportedly reconsidering plans to locate the company's HQ2 in New York City. The plan has been controversial from the start, but on the surface, looked like a big win for New York – $3 billion in performance-based incentives in exchange for an estimated 25,000 jobs and $27 billion in tax revenue. But a new study suggests that taxpayers are right to be skeptical of big incentive deals.

Twitter/@AMarch4OurLives

From Texas Standard:

A year ago Thursday, a shooter killed 17 students and staff members at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Three months later, it happened again: A gunman killed eight students and two teachers at Santa Fe High School, south of Houston.

In Texas, there's been skepticism over the years about the intentions of those who call for gun control. But one year after Parkland, and almost nine months after Santa Fe, there are small signs of a shift.

Mike Mozart/Flickr<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(CC BY 2.0)</a>

From Texas Standard:

You may have noticed a lot more dollar stores than you did just a few years ago. Since 2011, numbers of the discount stores have increased nationwide to about 30,000, up from about 20,000. Now, a new report says there are more dollar stores than Walmarts and McDonalds combined.

Photo courtesy of Cody Duty/Texas Medical Center

From Texas Standard:

Less than a year ago, on May 18, 2018, a shooter killed 10 people and wounded 13 at Santa Fe High School, south of Houston. It's been an arduous nine months for those who are recovering from the traumatic event. One survivor, law enforcement Officer John Barnes who was stationed at the school, was the last person shot that day. He spent weeks in the hospital, had more than six surgeries and has many more months left of rehabilitation.

Bill Clark/Pool

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton assured lawmakers on Friday that his office hadn’t launched criminal investigations into nearly 100,000 voters flagged by the secretary of state’s office for citizenship review.

Vincent Lock/Flickr <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(CC BY 2.0)</a>

From Texas Standard:

Not all darkness is created equal. In a place like Big Bend, the night sky reaches depths not present closer to a big city. That's also true of Devils River State Natural Area, located about 60 miles north of Del Rio. It’s the newest dark sky sanctuary – so designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT, and Flickr/House GOP (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Two Texas lawmakers are at the forefront of a renewed battle over President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Tom P / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News uncovered hundreds of Southern Baptist Convention, or SBC, church leaders and volunteers who faced sexual misconduct allegations in a recent investigation, “Abuse of Faith.” Reporters found that church leaders often knew about the abuse and did little, if anything, to stop it.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told lawmakers Friday that his office has yet to take action on a deeply flawed list of nearly 100,000 Texas voters flagged last month for citizenship review.

Paxton wrote a letter to the Senate Nominations Committee the day after a hearing in which David Whitley, the governor’s nominee to be the state’s top election official, conceded that he was aware of potential problems with the list before he referred it to the state’s top prosecutors.

Public domain

From Texas Standard:

In Texas, gambling is illegal in almost all forms. But you’d never know it driving down Business 77 in Willacy County. It cuts through a rural area of the Rio Grande Valley, but bares a passing resemblance to Las Vegas. It’s a headache for law enforcement, but a remedy could be on the way.

Sebastian R./Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On Saturday, the reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee turned 42 years old. The Puerto Rican artist has been in the news lately because he's one of the few artists on YouTube whose songs consistently have billions of views.

Photo courtesy of James Dickey

From Texas Standard:

The GOP in Texas will face greater challenges in 2020 than it has for many years. Sen. John Cornyn and party Chairman James Dickey have acknowledged the problem.

Gabriel C. Pérez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

"Unidentified: How Kids Can Age Out Of Texas Foster Care Without Documentation" is a series of reports from Texas Standard about the lack of needed identification documents among Texas foster youth.

In "Unidentified," one foster mom described the crucial role played by her children's attorney ad litem in getting their documentation. That attorney ad litem no longer works in that role. Maya Guerra Gamble is now a judge on the 459th Civil District Court in Travis County. She says persistence was a key ingredient in her success representing foster youth.

"Some of the documents, like a birth certificate, can be very hard to come by," Guerra Gamble says. "When children show up, their parents may not have any of their documentation."

Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas' election chief on Thursday defended giving prosecutors a list of 95,000 potential noncitizens on the state's voter rolls before vetting the information, which turned out to wrongly include scores of people who were naturalized before casting legal ballots.

The top judge on the Texas Supreme Court gave lawmakers a big wish list during his State of the Judiciary speech in Austin today. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht’s list includes some new spending, some savings and fundamentally rethinking business-as-usual in Texas courts.

President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning that he will hold a rally Feb. 11 in El Paso. Just hours earlier, the president reiterated in his State of the Union a repeatedly debunked claim that El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barrier were built there.

Wil C. Fry/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A state district judge in San Antonio ruled Monday that relatives of the victims of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs can sue Academy Sports, the Katy-based sporting goods chain that sold the shooter the rifle he used in the 2017 attack.

Timothy Lytton, professor at Georgia State University College of Law, says this could have implications nationwide because the judge ruled that Academy broke a federal law.

The shooter used a Colorado ID to buy the weapon at a San Antonio Academy store.

congerdesign/Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

The changing news landscape has been a struggle for many local papers. The Associated Press cites a study that found some 1,800 newspapers have shut down in just the last 15 years. Many of those were community weeklies.

That's bad news for the newspaper industry, but Texas A&M professor Johanna Dunaway says it's also impacting our politics. She co-authored a study in the Journal of Communication that found newspaper closures polarize voting behavior, as evidenced by a decline in split-ticket voting.

Martin do Nascimento for KUT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will detail his legislative priorities for this session this morning in his State of the State speech.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

HOUSTON – The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In a 2016 speech, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump used colorful language to urge Apple to build products in the U.S., rather than in China. In fact, the iPhone and Mac-maker had been doing that on a small scale, or trying to, since 2013, manufacturing the high-end Mac Pro in Austin.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The Democratic campaign arm for the U.S. House announced Monday they'll be investing money and resources into trying to flip several congressional districts in Texas blue. Many of these districts encompass the state's rapidly growing commuter cities. While few things are certain about 2020 right now, it's all but guaranteed there will be a partisan war for Texas's suburbs – and some of these Republican bellwethers are showing signs of becoming less red.

A mountain lion is seen walking through a Leander neighborhood Monday night.
Ring.com / Leander Police Department

A home security camera captured something unusual Monday night: what appears to be an adult mountain lion walking briskly through a Leander neighborhood.

Heather Claborn/KACU

From Texas Standard:

Rural school districts are far away from the bustle of Texas cities and suburbs. But with those wide open spaces come fewer students – and limited access to services and supplies they need. And all that can add up.

Texas school districts make it work through extra planning, and by making tough choices.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

bill filed late last week in the Texas Legislature could allow liquor stores to sell on Sundays. 

Currently, stores are prohibited from selling then – as well as on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. House Bill 1100 from state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond would allow stores to sell from noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Mallory Falk

From Texas Standard:

When the 2019 Texas legislative session gaveled in earlier this month, leadership named fixing the state’s troubled school finance system as a top priority – maybe even giving teachers an across-the-board raise.

School districts, especially in rural Texas, are paying attention. According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state. But when it comes to public policy, big cities can dominate the conversation.

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