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Texas Station Collaborative

From Texas Standard:

What The New York Times is calling one of Texas’ “most tumultuous political moments in decades” is set to play out in a special session announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday.

Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on July 18 for a 30-day special session, the first one Abbott has called during his time as governor.

From Texas Standard:

Steve Earle. Beyonce. Buddy Holly. Geto Boys. Ornette Coleman. Ernest Tubb. Bun B. Selena. Van Cliburn. Johnny Mathis. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Did I mention Willie? If ever there were a no-brainer for Texas tourism, surely a museum of Texas music history would fit that description.

From Texas Standard:

In the wake of last weekend’s terrorist attack in London that left seven people dead, Prime Minister Theresa May has gone beyond asking social media companies to vet content posted on their sites more fully. She’s raised the specter of holding social media platforms legally accountable for facilitating the spread of terrorist ideology.

Pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions based on their religious beliefs may soon be protected from disciplinary action thanks to a bill passed this legislative session. 

From Texas Standard:

Seven countries severed ties with Qatar on Monday. Not only did Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Yemen, Libya and the Maldives suspend diplomatic relations with the Gulf state, they also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. They also ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.

From Texas Standard:

The Republican Party of Texas elected a new chairman over the weekend after Tom Mechler stepped down. It wasn't exactly what you'd call a quiet exit.

Last week, Texas made national news when state lawmakers got into a shouting match that escalated into shoving and even death threats.

But anger among politicians working at the Texas Capitol had been growing for weeks, and some lay blame for that at the feet of a small group of extremely conservative lawmakers. They call themselves the Texas Freedom Caucus

The past several months have been chaos for groups that help resettle families in the U.S. As a result, Texas has resettled drastically fewer refugees this year than it has in previous years.

From Texas Standard:

The headline in both the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle today read the same thing – “We’re Getting Out.” These words were taken directly from the speech President Donald Trump gave yesterday when he announced the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement.

Christine Hawkes says her work isn’t all that glamorous.

“Sometimes when people ask me what my job is, I say 'digging holes,'” she says. "You know? It’s a lot of what I do is just digging up soil.”

The City of Austin has filed a legal challenge to the state's new "sanctuary city" law, joining a suit filed Thursday by the City of San Antonio.

From Texas Standard:

Texas has more than 150 state agencies -- everything from the Affordable Housing Corporation to the Workforce Commission. Do these agencies provide too much oversight and bureaucracy? That's what the Sunset Commission is tasked with finding out. A group of lawmakers from the Texas House and Senate, along with two members of the public, do periodic reviews to make sure state agencies are needed and that they're operating as they should.

From Texas Standard:

While Texas lawmakers have left the state Capitol for now, plenty of their bills did not go anywhere. One piece of legislation that didn’t make it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk was a measure that would have licensed immigrant detention facilities in Texas as childcare providers.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT News

The legislative session just ended. After 140 days of proposals, politicking and press conferences, we’re catching up on what actually passed and how it will change Texas.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Texas’s 85th Legislature was the demise of a bill that would have added more than half a billion dollars in funding for the state’s public schools.

Ask Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter what caught his attention in a recent release of census data for Texas cities, and he’ll tell you: Houston, in Harris County.

“In the past three or four years, prior to the [2015-16] set of estimates, Harris County was the most significant growing county in the country numerically,” he says.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr for KUT News

The 85th Texas Legislature is over. And while the threat of a special session looms, most of us are still trying to figure out what actually made it across the finish line.

Health advocates were hoping lawmakers would seriously tackle the issue of maternal mortality during the legislative session that ended Monday. But legislative efforts fell short.

From Texas Standard:

The 85th legislative session focused so much on measures like the "sanctuary cities" bill and the "bathroom" bill that it’s easy to forget that much of the initial focus was supposed to be on something else.

Hundreds of protesters in red T-shirts gathered at the Capitol on Monday to protest passage of Senate Bill 4, the "sanctuary cities" law. As they were chanting their opposition to the law, a state representative said he called federal immigration agents, leading to a scuffle between lawmakers.

Texas Lawmakers Mourn The Bills They Lost

May 29, 2017
MARTIN DO NASCIMENTO / KUT

The 85th Texas Legislature ended Monday, putting to rest (at least for now) escalating tension between the House and the Senate. Lawmakers filed more than 10,000 bills and resolutions for consideration, approving fewer than 4,000 of them. Of those, only about a fourth were actual policy changes.

Some bills were killed by deadlines, many of them dying in the rift between the two chambers. Plenty of others never even got a hearing.

From Texas Standard:

Every odd numbered year, for 140 days, Texas lawmakers meet in the Austin to participate in the political drama that is a legislative session. Each legislator tries to cram as many bills onto the floor as possible in an effort to maybe, just maybe, help it to become law. While the curtains on this year's drama are soon set to drop and all the political actors are making plans to head back to their part of Texas, a potential encore performance may be looming. We're talking about a possible special legislative session.

From Texas Standard:

Five seconds and 50,000 volts – that's enough of a jolt to hijack your nervous system and contract every muscle in your body. Applying electricity in this way has become the tool of choice for police officers across the country. We're talking about conducted electrical weapons, better-known as tasers. They've rapidly moved from an obscure police technology, into the public consciousness. They've been hailed by law enforcement as a life-saving tool. But some critics say that's far from the case.

The number of refugees resettled in Texas has dramatically decreased since Donald Trump became president, according to new findings from the Pew Research Center.

From Texas Standard:

After months of back and forth over how to fix what ails funding for Texas schools, lawmakers argued late into the night, Wednesday over a bill that would pump more state money into school budgets statewide. In the end, members of the House and Senate couldn't see eye to eye on what to leave in the bill to make school financing more equitable statewide.

From Texas Standard:

By now, most Texans are familiar with Sid Miller. Famous for his ever-present cowboy hat, the state agriculture commissioner – who's also a rancher and a Republican – has generated his share of controversy in recent months. But this week he's making news on his own terms with a commentary written for TribTalk, the editorial wing of the Texas Tribune.

Texas lawmakers are close to passing yet another abortion bill, roughly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's last major abortion legislation.

The U.S. Census is out with new numbers on which cities grew the most and which cities grew the fastest last year. Texas leads the pack in both categories.

From Texas Standard:

"Dead on arrival" is how Texas senior senator, Republican John Cornyn, characterized the formal budget plan unveiled by President Trump. It puts 66 programs on the chopping block, and includes a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 30 percent cut for the State Department and 20 percent from the Department of Agriculture.

With just days left in the Texas 2017 regular legislative session, the fate of a so-called “bathroom bill” is still uncertain.

Just after 1 a.m., state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) attached an amendment to a House bill in an effort to extend the life of the Senate’s controversial proposal.

Jen Rice / Texas Station Collaborative

At the Texas Capitol, being a rookie lawmaker is a lot like starting any new job. Your first week, you just want to find the right office without getting lost in an empty hallway.

As the 85th Texas Legislature starts its final full week, we asked two freshmen members of the Texas House of Representatives what they’ve learned about low bill numbers and high expectations.

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