Jill Ament | KERA News

Jill Ament

From Texas Standard:

Following this year's contentious regular and special sessions at the Capitol, the divide between the Legislature's upper and lower chambers couldn’t be more apparent. Many of the priorities of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, like the hotly debated transgender bathroom bill and sanctuary cities law, didn't fly in the House.

From Texas Standard:

The middle class is making gains, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest numbers show the median household income for a family of four is now $59,030, the highest median income on record, topping the previous high set during the dot-com days of the late 1990s.

From Texas Standard:

After weeks of legal and logistical wrangling, a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee that had been in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood for 81 years, was removed Thursday night. Meanwhile, State Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) will meet with Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss removing or altering Confederate monuments and plaques on the Capitol grounds.

From Texas Standard:

Grape-growing experts say Texas vineyards could see another banner year this season. But vineyard owners in the High Plains, where more than 80 percent of the state's wine grapes are produced, are concerned about damage to their crops from herbicides used on nearby cotton fields. They say the chemicals are drifting into their vineyards. And that’s causing some tension among neighboring farmers.

From Texas Standard:

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., Confederate monuments are coming down in public places across the country. Overnight, the University of Texas at Austin quietly dismantled four statues from the campus’ South Mall. But they're not going down everywhere.

From Texas Standard:

International homebuyers are banking on the health of the Texas real estate market. A report from the Texas Association of Realtors says that sales of Texas properties to international buyers increased by almost 60 percent between April 2016 and March of this year.

From Texas Standard:

A plan for a high-speed rail line that would allow Texans to travel from Houston to Dallas in a quick 90 minutes is moving forward, but not without a lot of setbacks and continued opposition from some communities along the proposed route. Topics of concern include the possibility that train tracks will bisect private property, the high cost of building the bullet train and its financing.

From Texas Standard:

One issue that's been top priority during the special legislative session is school finance. On Thursday, nearly 1,500 school officials sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urging him to support the primary legislation that deals with school finance, House Bill 21, which passed out of the House on Monday. The Senate's Education Committee heard testimony on HB 21 Friday.

From Texas Standard:

A coalition of rural Texas hospitals says small-town hospitals in the state are facing a "closure crisis" after those in Crockett and Trinity ceased operations over the summer.

The group says the recent closures bring the total number of closed rural hospitals in the past four years to nearly 20. And if the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress don't act, more rural communities will be left without immediate access to quality health- and emergency care.

 

From Texas Standard:

The nation's electrical grid is an interconnected system that powers homes and businesses across the country. But a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine indicates the grid is vulnerable and more needs to be done to protect the system from the growing threat of blackouts.

From Texas Standard:

Rhetoric from lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate raged on at the state Capitol on Tuesday over a Republican bill that would require women to pay a separate health insurance premium to get coverage for abortions that are not deemed medical emergencies. The bill is one of several abortion-related measures making headway during this legislative special session.

State Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and John Smithee (R-Amarillo), the bill's author, hold opposing viewpoints on the proposed legislation, and each provide a sample of their parties' position on the bill.

From Texas Standard:

The 85th Legislature’s special session is not gaining momentum. Not one of the 20 items Gov. Greg Abbott listed in his special session call has reached his desk. And with the clock ticking, the House and Senate to remain at odds over several legislative priorities. But maybe a long-awaited meeting between the estranged chamber heads could smooth things over?

From Texas Standard:

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday that the Department of Justice would be cracking down on what he calls the "culture of leaking" that has besieged the Trump administration.

 


From Texas Standard:

Texas Sen. John Cornyn outlined a border security proposal on Thursday that, unlike the president’s signature proposal, does not focus on building a border wall that would fence off the entire Texas-Mexico boundary. Instead, he wants to develop a comprehensive plan, which would likely entail adding border patrol agents and using technology to find and apprehend immigrants as they cross the border.

From Texas Standard:

Tango Blast – the name brings to mind, perhaps, a soda or bubble gum flavor. But Tango Blast is actually considered to be the greatest gang threat in Texas, according to a new, in-depth Texas Department of Public Safety gang activity assessment report.

From Texas Standard:

A Texas lawmaker is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to add ethics reform to his special session call. Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) heads the House General Investigation and Ethics Committee, which is tasked with scrutinizing wrongdoing at the state level. Most recently, she led an investigation into the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after reports of misconduct and mismanagement of funds within the agency.

From Texas Standard:

Authorities say 10 people were killed in clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Venezuela on Sunday. The nation's president, Nicolas Maduro, called elections to choose a constituent assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and more.

Dan Patrick's Day Off

Jul 27, 2017

From Texas Standard:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants Texans to know that the Texas Senate is making history. Patrick says the chamber's passage of 18 bills in the first seven days of the current special session represents a record pace for either chamber of the Legislature, in either a regular or special session.

From Texas Standard:

Mayors from across the state headed to Austin on Wednesday to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott over concerns about efforts to pass measures that would replace local laws and regulations with statewide ones. 

From Texas Standard:

At the height of the Cold War during the late 1950s, a conservative fringe group, created by some of America's richest businessmen gathered with a lofty mission in mind: to eliminate the so-called "Communist conspiracy" they believed gripped the country, and to preserve the foundation of the Constitution and the nation's Christian roots.

From Texas Standard:

Former Olympic gold medalist and transgender activist, Caitlyn Jenner, is flirting with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate. So is metal-rapper Kid Rock, though his campaign website seems mostly geared toward selling trucker caps and T-shirts.

From Texas Standard:

As Senate Republican leaders reveal another version of their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, taking politics out of the health care picture may be just the medicine needed. Political noise aside, the fact remains that health care costs are still too high, and many individuals can’t afford coverage. Experts say the political debate is essentially moot until the financial barriers to care are sorted out.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is facing tough times. The agency’s acting director quit recently, and several high-level employees were fired after a news investigation revealed spending sprees on out-of-state trips.

From Texas Standard:

As the sun was setting on the city of Dallas on July 7, 2016, few noticed the SUV parked sideways on Lamar Street, its flashers blinking.

The street was virtually empty, cleared out for a protest in response to the police shootings of two black men a few days earlier in Louisiana and Minnesota. The Dallas protest was one of many scheduled in big cities across the nation.  

From Texas Standard:

For years, Texas lawmakers have been trying to stem the bleeding of the state's health care plan for retired teachers. The plan has been at risk of going unfunded for nearly two decades because of demographic and economic changes, including more retirees and rising health care costs. During this year's legislative session, lawmakers took steps to make up for the plan's $1 billion shortfall  .

From Texas Standard:

The upcoming special legislative session is likely to provide just as many fireworks as the regular session did. Among the most controversial issues on the table is the contentious debate between the House and Senate over "private school choice."

From Texas Standard:

On Monday, a San Antonio federal judge heard arguments in what could be a lengthy legal battle over Senate Bill 4, also known as the “sanctuary cities” law.

From Texas Standard:

The week began with expectations that by now, the Senate would be preparing for a vote on the GOP health care plan – perhaps over the holiday weekend. But that's not going to happen because Republican leaders couldn't muster the votes.

From Texas Standard:

Plaintiffs have filed a new lawsuit challenging the University of Texas at Austin's race-based admission rules. Unlike a well-known case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the new suit was filed in state court, and bases its claims on the Texas Constitution and state statutes. Because the Supreme Court ruled in Fisher v. University of Texas that UT-Austin could retain its race-based admission system, it is unclear how the new case will fair.

From Texas Standard:

California prohibits state-funded or state-sponsored travel to several U.S. states. In the wake of Gov. Greg Abbott's signing of a controversial adoption-related measure into law, Texas has become one of them. California's attorney general says the Texas law is discriminatory against the LGBT community.

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