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From Texas Standard:

In an attempt to manage the growing congestion on Texas highways, and corresponding rates of frustration for drivers, the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, has been implementing what could be called  a market-driven approach to driving. Rather than spend more state dollars on highway-building, Texas has turned to the private sector, which has built toll roads where the cost to drivers fluctuates with traffic demand.

From Texas Standard:

Some industries tend to have higher employee turnover than others, like meter readers, fast-food workers, telemarketing and customer service representatives – and prison guards.

When it comes to turnover, things are so bad in the Texas prison system that it’s being called a mass exodus. Now some are sounding alarm bells about staffing levels at many Texas prisons.

Scott Canada says his company had big plans this year for a 100-megawatt solar farm outside Fort Stockton, Texas.

“It would have been built over the next 18 months,” says Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy for McCarthy Building Companies. “It generally would have probably employed 300 to 400 people at its peak, depending on how tight the schedule was being compressed.”

Untapped: The New West Texas

Nov 16, 2017

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable.

From Texas Standard.

The forces arrayed against Alabama judge Roy Moore are mounting. A fifth woman has come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama’s Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Lawmakers in Texas may have to focus on problems closer to home, though, based on reports that are now coming to light.

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump's insistence that the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, is a bad deal sparked talks aimed at renegotiation among the U.S., Mexico and Canada. And until now, groups representing farmers and ranchers in Trump-supporting states have been willing to wait and see where those negotiations go. But Politico reports the agriculture lobby is now going on offense, sending a sharply-worded message that the trade pact must be saved.

Sutherland Springs residents and family members gathered in a football stadium Wednesday night to hear words of support from Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Even though anguish and sorrow hang over the community,” Abbott said, “we will not be overcome by evil. Together we will overcome evil with good.”

Kathleen Hartnett White is facing scrutiny from U.S. senators today as part of her nomination to lead President Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett White was Texas' top regulator for six years. Her nomination to the White House post has proved controversial, even in an administration that is no stranger to controversy.

The man who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday was in a "conflict" with his ex-mother-in-law, Department of Public Safety officials said at a press conference today.

"The shooter was at odds with his in-laws," Texas Rangers Major Freeman Martin said. "There was conflict between the two families."

Attorneys arguing the case of Senate Bill 4 – Texas’ so-called sanctuary cities law –head back to federal court today. Judges of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will consider a temporary block placed on most of the law in August, which was partially lifted in September.

From Texas Standard.

Sutherland Springs, southeast of San Antonio, has been as quiet as any of the other small communities that dot the landscape of Wilson County. The shooting that took place on Sunday at the First Baptist Church has shocked each one of them.

Nannette Kilbey-Smith, the editor of the Wilson County News and the La Vernia News, says Wilson County is a tight-knit part of rural America with a large veteran community.

From Texas Standard:

A lone gunman killed 26 people and injured dozens more during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A few miles down the road in the small town of Stockdale, pastors are looking for ways to comfort their congregations: parishioners who are not only grieving for their neighbors, but who may also be concerned that their “sanctuary” is not immune to these horrific events.

How To Help Victims Of The Sutherland Springs Shooting

Nov 6, 2017
AP via NPR

Texans are helping the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting through blood donations and also financial donations.

Editor's note: We have removed the last name of the woman profiled in this story to protect the identity of her parents.

Oluwatoyosi, Toyosi for short, stands observant, her hands clasped in the middle of a crowd of more than 40 people in the basement of Hogg Auditorium. The 21-year-old is showcasing a collection of designs at Fest Africa: Africa Uncut, the Texas African Student Organization’s annual cultural showcase.

Residents of Sutherland Springs, which is about 40 miles east of San Antonio, gathered for a prayer vigil Sunday night.

Twenty-six people are dead after a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

Gov. Greg Abbott called it "the largest mass shooting in our state's history."

From Texas Standard.

The streets in front of the State Capitol building will be blocked off this weekend to make room for white tents and long tables piled high with books. Think of that new book smell – that’s the smell of the upcoming Texas Book Festival.

Some of the most celebrated authors in the world will be descending on Austin. The whole event is free, from browsing books to attending author signings.

Lois Kim, the festival’s executive director, says over 300 authors are coming to the event – including Tom Hanks, the Bush sisters, Dan Rather, and celebrity chef Mark Bittman. She says they’re also expecting literary stars like Walter Isaacson and Jennifer Egan.

From Texas Standard.

A new proposal from Republican lawmakers would cut some tax rates and overhaul portions of the U.S. tax code. House Republicans rolled out the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in Washington on Thursday.

Among the most controversial aspects of the GOP tax plan is that it lowers the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners. Current homeowners wouldn’t be affected, but new borrowers would only be able to deduct the first $500,000 – that’s down from the current limit, which is $1 million.

John Diamond, director of Rice University’s Center for Public Finance says that the mortgage deduction change could lower Texas home values by 1-2 percent.

From Texas Standard:

Two Houston-area high school students protesting the Pledge of Allegiance say their constitutional rights have been violated by their school districts – and they’re taking their protest to court.

From Texas Standard

As the official state tree and namesake ingredient in the state pie as well, the pecan occupies a special place in Texas. Although the state is one of the top producers of pecans, the nut’s success in one key international market has been more difficult to crack.

Boo: The Rise And Fall Of Texas Ghost Towns

Oct 30, 2017

From Texas Standard:

You’ve seen them as you drive along lonely Texas highways or tucked away in the odd corner of an otherwise urban landscape. They're the bones of once-loved homes, cemeteries overgrown with weeds, even whole towns that time forgot: They're ghost towns.

One of the many things Donald Trump promised during his campaign was that he would boost the country’s coal industry. Soon after he won the presidency, though, it became clear to some experts that the future of coal in the U.S. was dim; that natural gas, wind and solar were pushing it out of the market.

The coal industry found an ally in Trump’s pick to helm the Department of Energy: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

From Texas Standard.

The federal government released some 2,800 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Thursday. A team at the Dallas Morning News has been poring over the much-anticipated trove since their release.

Enterprise reporter David Tarrant, who leads the team, says the task of digging through the files kept reporters up late.

From Texas Standard.

The story of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy detained by Border Patrol agents after she underwent gallbladder surgery in Corpus Cristi this week has sparked outrage among immigration rights activists – and, frankly, way beyond.

A front page piece by the editorial board of the McAllen Monitor reads “Detainment of disabled child by Border Patrol should ‘shock us’ all.” Here’s the story.

The cost of college continues to creep higher and higher – and financial aid isn’t keeping up.

More Texans are receiving those hefty student loan bills in the mail after graduation, but is college still worth the investment?

Nonprofit online college WGU Texas took the temperature of how Texans are feeling about the state of higher education in their annual poll, which you can read here.

Josh Blank of Strategic Research Associates conducted the study, and he says most Texans are still on board with higher ed.

The body of a 3-year-old girl found in a culvert in a Dallas suburb over the weekend has been identified. Sherin Mathews had been missing since Oct. 7. The girl’s father – now in police custody – originally said she had gone missing after he left her in an alley outside his home early one morning, as punishment for not drinking her milk.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election. The conservative Republican made an emotional speech on the Senate floor, condemning the “coarseness of our leadership” and warning his colleagues in Congress that the Republican Party was “complicit.” Flake has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, though he did not mention the president by name.

Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston and author of the book Inside Texas Politics, says Flake joins fellow Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and 17 House Republicans, including one-fourth of the Republican women in the chamber, who have announced their retirements ahead of the 2018 election cycle.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus says he will not run for re-election in 2018.

A 17-year-old girl who entered the U.S. without documentation or family told the staff at a Texas shelter in March that she wanted an abortion.

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