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Texas Station Collaborative

Texas will be cleaning up and rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey for a long time, and Hurricane Irma is getting ready to hit Florida hard. When a natural disaster strikes, many people have an immediate urge to help. But as the waters – and news coverage – subside, so can attention. 

The U.S. Supreme Court did something out of the ordinary last week: It responded to an appeal when there was technically nothing to appeal.  

From Texas Standard:

Texas Standard spoke with Kaysie Taccetta of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services about the new "community-based model" for foster care in the state. One service provider in North Texas is already working within the model. The Standard paid the group a visit. Listen to that part of the story below.

On Sept. 1, hundreds of new laws took effect in Texas. A number were aimed at improving the state's child welfare system. Failure to do so was not an option.

The 2020 Census will be the first time Americans can submit questionnaire responses entirely online, but while some are touting the high-tech change, the new approach concerns some advocates.

From Texas Standard:

Thousands of people are finding their way to dry blankets and warm socks in shelters all across Texas. Dallas expects to host as many as 10,000 people fleeing Harvey; in Austin, as many as 7,000. Donations keep trickling in.

A federal court in Austin has blocked a Texas law scheduled to take effect tomorrow that outlaws one of the most common types of second-trimester abortions.

A federal court in San Antonio has blocked much of Senate Bill 4, Texas' so-called "sanctuary cities" law.

"The best interests of the public will be served by preserving the status quo and enjoining, prior to September 1, the implementation and enforcement of those portions of SB 4 that, on their face, are preempted by federal law and violate the United States Constitution," U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said.

As flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey continues in Southeast Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said the number of counties on the federal government’s disaster declaration has been expanded to 33. That expansion includes counties outside of Harvey's path that are helping evacuees in shelters – including Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis.

On Sunday morning Jessica Hulsey woke up in her home in Houston’s East End. She went to her front door to see how high the water had risen – but it wasn’t the water that surprised her.  

Tropical Storm Harvey has brought the mighty Texas oil refining industry to its knees, at least temporarily, and Texas drivers are just starting to feel the pain.

Updated at 5:07 p.m.

As historic flooding continues in Houston, President Trump said federal money for areas affected by Tropical Storm Harvey would arrive quickly.

"You're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast," he said at a joint news conference Monday afternoon with the president of Finland.

The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the way for Amazon to buy Whole Foods. The decision came just hours after shareholders of the Austin-based grocery chain approved the sale.

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.

A 25-year-old man was taken into custody Monday for attempting to destroy the General Dowling Monument located in Hermann Park, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.

A complaint was filed in Houston federal court today charging Andrew Schneck. 

From Texas Standard:

Texas is at the epicenter of an aging boom. Texans are getting older, but older folks from other parts of the country are also moving here. With age comes failing health, and an increased need for assistance with performing daily living tasks at home. Many people with physical disabilities also need this kind of assistance. And the people who provide attendant care in Texas are among the lowest-paid in the nationOnly Mississippi pays less.

Did we mention Texas also has some of the most expensive cities to live in?

 

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:

In the first months of his administration, President Donald Trump has made good on a campaign promise: to tighten immigration restrictions and crack down on immigrants living in the United States illegally. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, has rounded up immigrants in raids across the country, creating a boom for private prisons — an industry that's a growing part of the Texas economy.

It’s estimated that 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. A few years ago, National Parks decided to try and make a small dent in that number by banning water bottle sales on parkland. Now, the Trump administration has reversed that policy.

The special session of the Texas Legislature began with an announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, pushing — among other priorities — property tax reform. But that call to action fell short of producing a bill in the 30-day session. And no change in property tax law might be OK, because Texans may not be as overburdened by property taxes as they believe.

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:

Even though the Texas Legislature failed to pass measures to reform property taxes or the school finance system during the regular and special sessions, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the Texas economy continues to grow at a solid pace.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar is the chief tax collector, accountant and revenue estimator for the state government. Among his responsibilities is providing the legislature with an estimate of state revenue before each regular legislative session.

 

Gov. Greg Abbott told a radio program Wednesday he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court a federal ruling that could force state lawmakers to redraw two congressional districts in Texas before the 2018 elections.

NAFTA Renegotiations Begin This Week

Aug 16, 2017

From Texas Standard:

As the U.S., Mexico and Canada begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA — an agreement that President Donald Trump famously promised to end — American businesses have doubled down on the argument that NAFTA has been good, on balance, for everyone.  

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump staged one of the most memorable press conferences in U.S. history Tuesday afternoon: a combative exchange about last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va. It was an opportunity to reinforce his heavily scripted message from Monday, condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Instead, he went off script, reiterating talking points of the self-described “alt-right.”

From Texas Standard:

In a much-anticipated ruling, a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio has invalidated two of the state's 36 congressional districts. The ruling represents the sixth time this decade that Texas electoral districts have been invalidated by federal courts, based on findings of intentional discrimination.

From Texas Standard:

There has been a growing public debate over President Donald Trump's plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but many residents in Texas' Rio Grande Valley say a whole host of other issues affecting their region are being ignored.

At two protests last weekend against the wall in Mission, Texas and at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, south Texans tried to call attention to the untold stories.

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:

The saying, you’re only as good as your equipment, has serious implications for first responders. A faulty service weapon can mean the difference between life and death for police officers and those they protect, which makes what's happening in Houston all the more frightening.

From Texas Standard:

On Saturday, members of the media received a press release titled: “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.” The message came from a group organizing a White Lives Matter rally featuring white nationalist Richard Spencer, scheduled to take place on September 11th at the Texas university. There's plenty of outrage on social media, and a counter-protest has already been planned.

A bill that would change the way cities and counties collect property taxes is moving forward in the Texas House. On Saturday, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1 on second reading. The measure would lower the rollback rate, or the annual percent increase in property taxes, from 8 percent to 6 percent. Any increases above that would have to go to the public for a vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, repeatedly noted that SB 1 does not aim to save taxpayers any money, but it would allow them to weigh in on some increases.

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