Jill Ament | KUOW News and Information

Jill Ament

From Texas Standard:

On Wednesday, the House easily approved nearly $8 billion in short-term funds for areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, members of the Texas congressional delegation from both parties are working together to direct more federal money to the Gulf Coast, and to influence the way they are spent.

From Texas Standard:

Houston’s controversial ordinance banning public encampments has been in effect for three months. It came as the result of mounting complaints from residents regarding the amount of homeless camps on public property.

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:

North Korea now says it won't fire missiles at Guam after all. State media reports from Pyongyang say leader Kim Jong Un instead will "watch a little more [of] the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.”

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:

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:

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:

While many diners delight in slurping the slimy meat out of an oyster, less attention goes to the oyster shell. Typically, they’re thrown away and end up in landfills.

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:

On Tuesday, the New York Times published a bombshell report that could rekindle the debate over affirmative action in Texas colleges and universities. A document shows the U.S. Justice Department plans to investigate and even sue colleges over their affirmative action policies. It was only a year ago that the U.S. Supreme Court took up this question in Fischer versus the University of Texas. The judges ruled that colleges could consider race and ethnicity as part of the admissions process.

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:

Texas law prohibits members of the Legislature from accepting campaign contributions during a regular session. The restriction came about after poultry magnate Lonnie Pilgrim handed out $10,000 checks on the Senate floor in 1989 – just two days before a vote on a workers' compensation bill that Pilgrim had an interest in.

From Texas Standard:

Those watching the proceedings at the Texas Capitol this weekend may have noticed a tale of two chambers: the senate working at a frenzied pace, while the house moves much more slowly.

Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of the Texas Tribune says that normally, it’s the House where legislation moves at a quicker clip. That norm started to change a few years ago, he says, and it flipped dramatically during this year’s regular legislative session.

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:

"Thanks, Democrats, for showing up for Tuesday’s opening day of the oh-so-special legislative session, but it looks like you’ll be just a minor speed bump as the Republicans steer the state even farther to the right."

So wrote Austin American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman on Tuesday.

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:

Just four days before the start of the special legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has spelled out plans to give longevity bonuses to public school teachers, and boost benefits for retired teachers.

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:

July is typically the height of peach season in Texas, but many of the Hill Country’s well-known peach farms don’t have as much of the savory fruit to offer this year.

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.

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