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

Travis Bubenik / Houston Public Media

If you want to cook up a battle over private property rights in Texas, here’s the recipe:

Take a handful of sprawling cities and growing populations that are expanding into once-rural areas, add a booming oil and gas industry with a desperate need for new pipelines to move record-high volumes of hydrocarbons, and sprinkle in the new electric lines needed to power both of those trends.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas health officials say they’re going to provide next month’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits early due to the federal government shutdown.


From Texas Standard:

In the 1950s and '60s, the U.S. battled the Soviet Union in the race to conquer space. American presidents told the nation that beating Russia was a both a scientific and a national security imperative. Today, there’s a new kind of technology race underway that most people have never even heard about. And the stakes are high.

Eddie Gaspar/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas Standard has been inviting new members of the Texas delegation on Capitol Hill for on-air meet-and-greet sessions. Recent news has made these conversations especially timely: earlier this week we spoke about the shutdown and the situation at the border with a newly minted Democratic representative, Colin Allred. Now it's Lance Gooden's turn; he's the Republican freshman elected in November to take the place of Jeb Hensarling representing District 5, which covers parts of Dallas and East Texas.

Gooden says he supports President Donald Trump's idea to declare a national emergency in order to secure funding for the border wall. He says Trump would need to do that "especially if he wants to get what he wants because I don't think he's gonna get it in Congress."

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

MCALLEN – Isidrio Leal knows what a combat zone looks like. And as he stood at the corner of 10th and Wichita streets Thursday holding a “Veterans for Peace” flag, the Iraq war veteran wanted one thing to be known: the border isn’t under siege.

Julia Reihs / KUT

A plaque honoring the Confederate States of America in the Texas Capitol will be taken down after a vote from the Texas State Preservation Board.

In a meeting that lasted all of three minutes, board members unanimously approved the measure to remove the plaque, which was installed in 1959, though it's unclear when exactly it will be taken down. 

Sarah Richter/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a contagious illness that affects animals, including deer and elk. It attacks an animal's nervous system; a deer with the disease may have difficulty moving, lose a significant amount of weight and then die. Research hasn't shown that it's a threat to humans, but it has decimated deer populations in places like Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Texas could help build President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall, the president suggested Thursday — an idea that apparently came from the state’s outspoken lieutenant governor, a vocal advocate for border security.

Image via Flickr/Texas Comptroller (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Texas lawmakers arrived in Austin Tuesday, they were probably at their most optimistic – the process of debating and passing legislation will be tough, but there's possibility that great things can happen. While many things are still unknown about the 86th legislative session, one thing is clear: lawmakers know the limits of the state's budget because Comptroller Glenn Hegar has already released those details. The legislature will have $119 billion to work with, Hegar says.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Since 2007, Houston Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman – and others – have tried in vain to get just five words into Texas' hate crimes law: "or gender identity or expression."


From Texas Standard:

Life on earth requires certain elements. Humans need oxygen, for example, among many other things. But as we increasingly explore other parts of our universe, researchers are trying to determine whether the signs of life we take for granted here on our planet might be different elsewhere.

U.S. House of Representatives/Public Domain

From Texas Standard

President Donald Trump addressed the nation Tuesday night. It was rumored that he would declare a national emergency as a means of moving ahead with construction of a border wall, despite Congress' unwillingness to provide the funding – that conflict is what led to the current partial government shutdown. But in his address, though he did argue for the importance of constructing a wall, he not declare an emergency.

Democratic U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar represents Texas' 28th District, which runs from South San Antonio into the Rio Grande Valley, and covers a large stretch of Texas' border with Mexico. Cuellar says the president's arguments about the need for a border wall are wrong.

Austin Price for The Texas Tribune

Amid continued scrutiny over how lawmakers handle reports of sexual misconduct by their colleagues, members of the House on Wednesday are expected to consider a proposal to strengthen the way the chamber addresses complaints of sexual harassment.

WATCH: Funeral Service For Jazmine Barnes

Jan 8, 2019

A funeral service was held Tuesday for 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was fatally shot Dec. 30 while riding in a car with her family in East Harris County.

Brad Fults/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For years, there's been talk about the growth of the craft beer business. Breweries have been popping up all over Texas to fill a thirst for locally made suds. But it's worth wondering whether we've reached a saturation point. In December, Big Bend Brewing announced it was suspending its operations and Noble Rey Brewing in Dallas just filed for bankruptcy protection.

Bill Zeeble/KERA News

From Texas Standard:

Nine Texas freshmen were sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives last week. It was a celebration for all, especially Democrats who took back control of the House, and who elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But all this took place amid the partial government shutdown and President Donald Trump's fight with Democrats to fund his border wall. It's a fraught time for these newly-elected members of Congress to come to Washington, including for Dallas Democrat Colin Allred.

Allred defeated a longtime Republican to claim his seat, and says the shutdown isn't what he envisioned for the beginning of his term.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State attorneys and lawyers representing reproductive rights groups argued in federal court Monday over whether a sweeping lawsuit challenging more than 60 Texas abortion regulations should move forward.

Thomson200 /Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

The college football season ends Monday night with the championship game between Alabama and Clemson. At stake are bragging rights and records, but also a lot of money and a coaching legacy.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Our attention turns once again to the Texas side of the Rio Grande where President Donald Trump has doubled down on his plan build a wall along the border with Mexico. Over the weekend, Trump said he may declare a national emergency to secure the funding for the wall after White House officials and top legislative aids failed to reach a compromise about it, and also failed to end the partial government shutdown.

While politicians hash out immigration policy in Washington, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling deals with the day-to-day impact of immigration in the Rio Grande Valley – one of Texas' busiest border-crossing regions. Darling says he sees several hundred asylum seekers per day come to respite centers in the area. And while media have focused on the Central American migrant caravans moving through Mexico, he says they've missed what's actually happening at the border.

The Texas Tribune

At a time when legislators are vowing to spend more money on public schools and slow the growth of Texans’ property tax bills, the state should have enough money at its disposal to do just that.

That is, if its newest predictions hold true.


From Texas Standard:

If you're the investing type, it's likely the stock market has given you a little bit of whiplash in recent weeks. If you're not the investing type, you've probably seen the major ups and downs as a reason to avoid stocks. Ups and downs are par for the stock market course, but has the recent volatility been an outlier? And what explains it? President Donald Trump said this week there was a "glitch" in the market December, so what are we to make of that?

Ray Perryman is an economist with the Perryman Group in Waco. He says the stock market's current fluctuations are unusual.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

Top lawmakers are gathering at the White House again Friday to try to find a way to end the partial government shutdown. This comes one day after Democrats, who now have a majority in the House of Representatives, passed a package to reopen parts of the government until September, and passed a measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8. The effort also allowed more time for negotiations on border security.

While the measures likely won't pass in the Republican-led Senate, seven Republicans in the House sided with Democrats to pass the bills; Texas Rep. Will Hurd was one of them. His 23rd Congressional District stretches from El Paso to San Antonio, encompassing much of the state's border with Mexico.

Hurd says he voted with Democrats because he feels it's important to keep agencies like the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, open.

The Houston Sheriff's Office has released a composite sketch of the man wanted in the killing of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes.

In a press conference Thursday, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said the suspect is described as a thin white man in his 30s or 40s, wearing a black hoodie, with pale skin and blue eyes. What police originally described as a beard "looks more like a 5-o'clock shadow," he said.

Megan Canik

From Texas Standard:

People who live outside Texas know the names of the state’s biggest cities – Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin. And many have also heard of a town of less than 3,000 – Shiner. That, of course, is because of the beer that’s been brewed there since 1909, and is now distributed in 49 states. But even some Texans may not have heard of another town, just 14 miles of farmland down Highway 90. Like Shiner, it was founded in the 1800s, is big on its German heritage, and is home to less than 3,000 people. We're talking about Hallettsville. The two towns have long had a friendly rivalry.

Can An Onion Predict The Weather?

Jan 2, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Another New Year's Eve has come and gone. For some that may mean new resolutions, or maybe just dealing with a bit of over-indulgence. But for Garry Karber, it means another night of chopping an onion, and predicting the weather. Karber is originally from the Panhandle city of Perryton. He now lives in the Central Texas town of Cameron.


From Texas Standard:

The next Texas legislative session kicks off in less than a week, and one issue facing lawmakers will be how to address the backlog of about 15,000 untested rape kits. One solution lawmakers proposed during the last session was to give Texans the option to donate to a fund for kit testing when applying for, or renewing a driver's license or vehicle registration. Texans did donate, and the state collected more than $560,000.

Image courtesy of txcourts.gov

There are more than 3,000 judges in Texas - and in the Lone Star state, they are elected. In the midterm elections, Democrats took control from Republicans in four of the state's 14 appeals courts. Will Texans notice this shift in the balance of power? 


From Texas Standard:

Taxes. They tend be something many of us avoid thinking about until a certain time of the year. But they are, of course, an everyday reality when you buy something at the store or when you fill up your gas tank.

Mali Mish/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Where do tornadoes come from? It's not a riddle or a trick question, although the answer may seem obvious: the sky, right? Evidently, that's not the case.