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Texas Station Collaborative

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.

 

The science on whether there's a link between oil and gas activity and a surge in earthquakes in Texas isn't clear-cut, says the new seismologist for the agency that regulates the industry here.

The Boot Whisperer

Aug 10, 2017

From Texas Standard:

Ulli Johnston says most customers at her store don’t know her name, they just call her the "Boot Whisperer."

At her Wild West Store in Wimberley, Texas, Johnston is known for being able to look at people’s feet and find them the perfect pair of cowboy boots.

From Texas Standard:

The first few days of the school year are an anxious time for most kids. But there’s a group whose levels of stress and anxiety are so high that they can only be compared to those who have experienced trauma.

Silvia Zuvieta Rodriguez is one of them.

“Since I was little I always had anxiety when it came to my parents not coming home at a certain time,” she says.

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.

When transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders about refugee policy leaked to the press last week, one line got a lot of attention. It was a reference to “local milk people,” presumably dairy farmers, whom the president thought refugees wouldn’t work for.

As it turns out, though, some “milk people” worry it's Trump's immigration policies that may be bad for business.

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:

new study has opened fire against the commonly held belief – particularly in Texas – that carrying guns can reduce violent crime.

From Texas Standard:

It's not unheard of for an obituary to be published by mistake. A few years ago, People.com put up an obit for actor Kirk Douglas, who – at 100 – is still alive.

Something similar happened to Dallas-based Half Price Books chain, Austin’s BookPeople and independent bookstores across the country when the first e-reader made its debut. The death knell never rang so loud.

But it turns out bookstores aren't dead after all, at least not some of the best-known ones in Texas.

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:

A controversial proposal to bring American troops home from Afghanistan, replacing them with contractors, wouldn’t involve private citizens manning tanks or Humvees. Instead, they would fly military-style planes above the battlefield – amounting to a private air force. The proposal comes from Erik Prince, whose contacting firm Blackwater made headlines during the Iraq War.

 

From Texas Standard:

Members of the House and Senate are scrambling to plug a $212 million hole in the teacher retirement system, which provides health benefit for retired educators. Changes made to the TRS-Care system during the regular legislative session could cause some retirees' health care costs to increase tenfold.

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.

House Speaker Joe Straus has made himself enemy No. 1 among the state’s most conservative voters. His crime? His management style.

From Texas Standard:

The state's controversial "campus carry" law took effect one year ago. The law allows students with concealed handgun licenses, and who are 21 years old, to carry a firearm in certain places on public university campuses.

 

Texas-based oil giant Exxon Mobil has faced high-profile lawsuits from states and environmental groups over allegations that it covered up what it knew about global warming for decades. But one lawsuit has flown under the radar.

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.

Brendan Steinhauser, a political strategist living in Austin, uses the state’s voter file all the time.

“The voter file is quite simply a list of voters who are registered to vote,” he says. “You can also obtain their voting history to see if they have voted in past elections.”

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.

The deaths of 10 migrants in a sweltering 18-wheeler in San Antonio has raised a lot of questions. One of them: Why transport people in the back of a tractor-trailer, especially after they have already crossed the border?

One reason, experts say, is that entering the United States from Mexico illegally involves "two crossings." You must first cross the U.S./Mexico border, then one of the many Border Patrol checkpoints that exist farther into the United States.

Retired Texas teachers are closer to seeing some relief from higher health care deductibles, and current teachers may be seeing more money in the near future, too. But some teacher groups are worried the push to help teachers is more political than substantive.

From Texas Standard:

Texas A&M–Corpus Christi is going from the Gulf Stream to the TV screen.

The coastal university will be featured on the  "Shark Week" television series Wednesday, displaying artificial reefs for the Gulf Coast that are designed to attract wildlife in areas where the ocean floor is largely made up of mud or sand.

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. 

Fifteen immigrant rights activists were arrested Wednesday after blocking traffic at the intersection of 15th Street and Congress Avenue during a sit-in to protest Attorney General Ken Paxton's push to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

From Texas Standard:

In a series of blockbuster tweets this morning, President Donald trump wrote that transgender individuals won’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

***Updated at 4:00 p.m.

The first documented locally-acquired case of Zika in the continental U.S this year has been detected in Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of Texas. There's no indication this is the start of a large scale outbreak.

A Houston lawmaker is trying to get the Legislature to reverse cuts to a Medicaid program that pays for therapy for children with development delays – despite it not being on the official agenda for the special session.

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