Texas

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

paul.wasneski/Flickr (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Last week, Texas Standard reported on how three Texas cities – Dallas, Austin and Lubbock – are tackling homelessness. Now, The Texas Tribune reports a twist to the narrative that homelessness is generally on the rise. In fact, the Tribune reports that homelessness is actually going down in Houston.

Black Pumas, Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada
Michael Minasi for KUT

From Texas Standard:

Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel, John and Paul, Mick and Keith – music history is full of legendary collaborations. And the next one might just come straight out of the Texas capital city.

Office of the Inspector General

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General released a report on Tuesday detailing severe overcrowding and escalating tensions between detainees and Border Patrol agents at five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley.

Ballot Measure Aims To Protect State Park Funding

Jul 2, 2019
Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

From Texas Standard:

The fate of the Texas state park system will be on the ballot in November. Voters will decide whether to strengthen the rules that currently reserve sales taxes paid on sporting goods to fund parks, or, if they vote "no," to continue allowing the money to be siphoned off for other uses. 

Taxes on sporting goods have been dedicated to park funding since 1993, but legislators have continually found other uses for the money – up to 40% has ended up in the state's general fund over those 25 years. Lack of funding, and greater demand for park access by a growing population has left many facilities in disrepair.

A middle school served as a reunion point for parents and students after a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in 2018.
Michael Stravato / The Texas Tribune

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School, a man who said he witnessed the carnage seemed to turn up everywhere.

Residents in the Rio Grande Valley gathered at vigils in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday evening to remember the lives of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria.

The Salvadoran father and daughter drowned as they tried to cross the river between Matamoros and Brownsville on June 23. Valeria's mother, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, watched as her family was swept away.

Gene Kranz may be the most famous flight director in NASA's history. He directed the actual landing portion of the first mission to put men on the moon, Apollo 11, and led Mission Control in saving the crew of Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank exploded on the way to the lunar surface.

Now Kranz, 85, has completed another undertaking: the reopening of Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

June Has Been A Deadly Month For Migrants Crossing The Border Into Texas

Jun 28, 2019
Residents hold a vigil at La Lomita Chapel in Mission
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

As the wrenching photo of a Salvadoran father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande continues to spark national debate about U.S. immigration policy, the death toll of migrants trying to illegally cross the border has been quietly rising in recent weeks.

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In 2017, Texas lawmakers approved $300 million to begin an extensive revamp of the state hospital system. It’s a network of 10 hospitals that house kids and adults in need of inpatient psychiatric care.

How Three Texas Cities Are Managing The Rise In Homeless Residents

Jun 26, 2019
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

As the gap between the wealthy and poor has grown in places where the cost of living is high, cities across the country have been struggling with growing populations of people experiencing homelessness – people soliciting passersby, sleeping and living on public streets and in parks. In Austin, where the wealth gap has been skyrocketing, so have the numbers of people living on the streets.

Lucas Blanton/University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

From Texas Standard:

For some Texans, a mosquito bite can cause more than just an itch. From yellow fever to West Nile virus, there's a long history of mosquito-borne diseases in Texas, some of them causing serious harm or even death.

A Grim Border Drowning Underlines The Peril Facing Many Migrants

Jun 26, 2019
The Rio Grande River as seen from Brownsville, Texas as it passes under the Gateway International Bridge between the border cities of Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

From Texas Standard:

Known as a conservative firebrand with a semi-automatic rifle pin on his lapel, Jonathan Stickland has announced he will not be running to maintain his seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 2020. He stated that it was “not the Lord’s will” for him to seek reelection, according to The Texas Tribune.

An ICE agent
Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Federal immigration authorities say they arrested 52 people in Central and South Texas last week.

The arrests came before telegraphed operations in 10 major cities, including Houston, that President Donald Trump had touted. The president tweeted Saturday that he would delay the large-scale raids to give Congress time to make adjustments to U.S. asylum laws.

U.S. Government Moves Migrant Children After Poor Conditions Are Exposed

Jun 24, 2019
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

ICE raid
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Local immigration groups are preparing for the possibility of immigration raids targeting people with deportation orders starting as soon as Sunday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that the state will deploy 1,000 troops from the Texas National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to aid the federal government with border security efforts.

Eddie Seal for The Texas Tribune

The gap between Texas’ Hispanic and white populations continued to narrow last year when the state gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident.

Texas Monthly

From Texas Standard:

Now that the 2019 legislative session is over, it's time to reflect on the legislators who impressed and those who disappointed. Texas Monthly was paying close attention all session and just published the 23rd edition of its Best and Worst Legislators list.

book cover, "The Meanest Man in Congress"
Shelly Brisbin/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The list of notable Texans to serve in the U.S. House is a long one. Names like Sam Rayburn, "Cactus Jack" Garner, Barbara Jordan and Lyndon B. Johnson have been lionized through history. But that parade of names often leaves someone out: Congressman Jack Brooks.

NASA Earth Observatory/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

This may be a difficult summer for Texas marine life. Experts predict a near-record dead zone, which is caused by heavy rainfall and agricultural activity along the Mississippi River that trickles down to Texas’ upper Gulf Coast.

Wendy Rigby/Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of our "Spotlight on Health" series, we're looking at access to health care – something that can be a problem for many military veterans. 

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, says wait times at VA clinics have shown "marked improvement" since 2014 when the agency was embroiled in controversy. In one example from that time, a Phoenix VA facility was criticized for having extremely long wait times. 

Thousands Of Asylum Seekers Left Waiting At The U.S.-Mexico Border

Jun 17, 2019
Julia Reihs / KUT

Over the past three months, the number of Central Americans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has jumped exponentially, and total border crossings have reached levels last seen in 2006.

An Army veteran wearing a mask and carrying more than 150 rounds of ammunition for his high-powered rifle was shot dead Monday after he opened fire outside a busy federal courthouse in downtown Dallas, authorities said.

Schlitterbahn said in a news release it sold a water park and resort in New Braunfels, Texas, and another property in Galveston, Texas, to Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.
Carol Bell/(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Texas-based water park company on Thursday announced an agreement to sell two of its attractions and will also give the buyer the right to acquire its Kansas site where a 10-year-old boy was killed nearly three years ago.

Big Bend, West Texas' Sprawling And Historic National Park, Turns 75

Jun 13, 2019
Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps were sent to the Big Bend area to work, building roads, trails and other facilities.
L. Bartsch / National Park Service

It’s time to blow out the candles. Big Bend National Park — home to 800,000 acres of sweeping Chihuahuan desert landscapes, imposing mountains, wiry cacti and an international boundary in the Rio Grande — is turning 75.

Alan Levine/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Have you ever pulled something out of the fridge only to see that it expired a week ago? Or did it? A 2017 Food and Drug Administration survey of U.S. consumers found that less than half could determine the difference between the terms “Sell By,” “Use By” and “Best If Used By.” To end the confusion, some industry regulators are urging producers to standardize the meaning of these terms.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Three named plaintiffs launched a class action lawsuit last year against the City of Austin, Travis County and several local officials, claiming they failed to adequately investigate and prosecute their sexual assault cases.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texans have become more supportive of transgender rights in recent years, a new public opinion survey suggests. 

Greg Miller/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

From Texas Standard:

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. Before the law, a vast majority of Native American children in foster care were placed in homes outside of native communities. The law was meant to correct that, and it mandated that Native American families have priority in adopting Native American children.

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