HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

Wallethub

When it comes to the availability of help for those addicted to drugs, Texas performs worse than any other state.

According to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub, Texas lands at the top of the list of states with the fewest substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 residents.

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A new wind turbine in the Texas Panhandle is the largest in the United States.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the turbine is located at the UL Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility at West Texas A&M University, in Randall County.

The hub of the turbine stands 427 feet above the ground, and the tip of a blade at its highest point rises to 654 feet. By comparison, that’s one hundred feet taller than the Washington Monument, and over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Public universities in Kansas saw some of their funding restored as part of the new state budget.

The budget restores $15 million to the Kansas Board of Regents. In fiscal year 2017, state universities spent about $570 million in state funding.  

Today on High Plains Morning, we heard from Sonja Gross, Public Information Officer for the Amarillo District of the Texas Department of Transportation. She came on the show to remind us about the very real dangers of distracted driving.

That's any activity that takes your attention away from driving, such as texting and talking on a mobile phone to eating and drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, watching a video and even adjusting the radio. 

(This story has been updated)  

The ink is barely dry on a deal to increase school spending by more than half a billion dollars, but Kansas is already headed for a fresh round of legal arguments.

School districts suing the state say the plan falls short in part because it will happen gradually over five years. They want the Kansas Supreme Court to make the state pay out $506 million more this fiscal year — on top of the $190 million boost the Legislature had already promised.

From Texas Standard:

An earlier version of this story said that thousands of children in Texas foster care are sexually abused. The data shows that CPS investigated thousands of reports of sexual abuse in Texas. Of those, CPS found 43 confirmed cases of sexual abuse while in foster care. We have updated this article and the audio version of the story to reflect the update.

A quick warning – some parts of this story are disturbing.

Texas children in foster care are getting pregnant at a rate five times higher than children who are not in the system. That was the shocking bottom line of a report released last month by the non-profit policy organization Texans Care for Children.

The Kansas Legislature has narrowly approved a controversial measure allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in Kansas to be reimbursed by the state for placement services, even if they turn away prospective parents who don’t fit their religious beliefs.

The bill that includes the provisions constituting the “Adoption Protection Act” passed the House shortly before midnight Thursday with the bare minimum 63 votes in favor with 58 against. The Senate followed suit a couple hours later on a 24-15 vote. In a statement, Gov. Jeff Colyer said he would sign it.

Janelle DuBree didn’t need statistics to see that foster kids are traumatized. The evidence was spilled, smashed and smeared all over her kitchen and down the hallway.

Two of the younger girls she took in, on one of their first nights in her Emporia home, raided the kitchen around 2 a.m. Eggs were cracked and trailed everywhere — on the floor, the countertops, the side of the refrigerator. Her carpet was soaked in bright red Hawaiian Punch.

DuBree adopted the girls, now 7 and 9, from a place where food wasn’t always available. So when it was plentiful, they took out and ate everything they could.

Texas is among a small group of states with cases of Valley fever, a lung infection caused by breathing in a fungus called Coccidioides. The illness has been around for a long time, but hasn't really gotten much attention – until recently.

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Many hundreds of workers have fallen ill due to work performed over the years at the Pantex nuclear arms facility northeast of Amarillo.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, since an employee compensation program began in 2000, over $171 million has been doled out to 1,300 workers and their families, to compensate for various forms of cancers contracted while working with nuclear materials at the plant.

Kansas lawmakers gave the go-ahead Monday to expand telemedicine services after reaching agreement on abortion language that had threatened to scuttle the move.

The bill cleared the state Senate and House by large margins, but only after eleventh-hour brinksmanship that gave anti-abortion forces the assurances they demanded.

Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization, fought for weeks to maintain a clause in the legislation designed to discourage a court challenge over its ban on drug-induced abortions.

From Texas Standard.

Tulia is an agricultural hamlet of 5,000 souls in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, just under an hour south of Amarillo. It’s where 18-year-old Tawnee Flowers grew up and went to high school.

Kansas senators will return Monday to find a school finance fix waiting on their desks, hammered out in the House over the weekend.

The bill undoes an $80 million error inserted last-minute into this year’s school funding bill.

From Texas Standard.

Christopher Scott was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for capital murder. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars before another man confessed to the crime and Scott was declared innocent. With his second chance at freedom, Scott teamed up with two other exonerated Texans to form a Dallas detective agency of sorts to help others who have been wrongfully convicted.

U.S. Census Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

Texas plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing the state’s beleaguered special-education system.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas Education Agency plans to spend nearly $212 million over the next five years to help students with special needs. The news comes in the wake of a 2016 study, which found that Texas had been systemically failing to adequately serve tens of thousands of special needs students statewide.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is opening up child protection services jobs to people who aren’t licensed social workers.

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Fire dangers continue to threaten Western Oklahoma, as the state recovers from historic blazes that burned up hundreds of thousands of acres and left dozens of homes in ruins.

However, the Oklahoma Forestry Service had not issued any more red flag warnings as of late Thursday afternoon.

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This week Oklahoma teachers declared victory after their historic walkout and returned to classrooms. The protests resulted in a pay increase of $6,100 per teacher—the largest such raise in state history.

Educators also won raises for support staff such as cafeteria workers, and state lawmakers agreed to increase funding to Oklahoma public schools by a total $70 million in recurring yearly revenue.

Meanwhile, many teachers in Colorado believe it’s their turn now.

Kansas has once again scored below the national average in the latest National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The index is an effort to measure a state’s ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies that pose health risks. That’s anything from extreme weather events like tornadoes to an outbreak of a deadly disease or virus. On a scale of 10, Kansas scored a 6.9. The national average is 7.1.

“The good news is that it’s been improving over time,” project director Glen Mays said.

Bas Silderhuis / The Texas Tribune

A new report says current and former Texas foster youth face greater pregnancy risks and calls on the state to provide health care and education to at-risk teens.

From The Texas Tribune:

After entering Texas’ foster care system in 2006, the day after her 14th birthday, Unisha Curry bounced around anywhere from nine to 11 foster homes. In one of her final homes, she had three foster sisters who were teen mothers.

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Texas is facing a major shortage of doctors, reports WFAA.

In fact, the Lone Star State ranks 47th among all states when it comes to having enough doctors to successfully treat its populace. The numbers come courtesy of a new report from the American Association of medical colleges.

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Wildfires ravaged much of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle this weekend.

As KFOR reports, fire crews from neighboring states like Louisiana and Arkansas—and as far away as Florida—sped toward the Sooner State and the Lone Star State to try to quell the blazes. Hundreds of thousands of acres burned, including 7,000 acres in Wheeler County, and at least one life was lost in the Oklahoma fires.

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In recent years, the maternal death rate in the state of Texas has skyrocketed. Now, investigators have determined that the high rate of maternal deaths in the Lone Star State was actually due to inaccurate reporting on death certificates.

Lawmakers may not know for months whether a deal to pump half a billion dollars into schools goes far enough to end seven years of court battles over whether the state shortchanges Kansas children.

If it falls short, the Kansas Supreme Court could call them back to Topeka this summer with yet another ultimatum to send even more money to local districts.

State researchers say a majority of maternal deaths reported in Texas in 2012 were coded incorrectly.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers were able to confirm just 56 out of 147 obstetric deaths that year – that is, deaths occurring within 42 days of childbirth. 

New test scores for what’s often referred to as the "Nation’s Report Card" are out today for Kansas and the rest of the country.

A bill to update state adoption law was sailing through the legislature. Until it wasn’t.

It’s been gummed up because of a faith-based protection provision that would allow adoption agencies to receive state funding while turning away prospective parents who don’t fit with an organization’s religious beliefs.

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This weekend, Amarillo residents gathered to rally against child abuse and neglect. As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, last year Child Protective Services completed almost 7,000 cases in the Texas Panhandle.

Four out of five of those cases centered on children who were victims of neglectful supervision. To draw attention to the issue, dozens of child welfare advocates gathered at the Amarillo Activity Youth Center Saturday for the Amarillo Child Abuse Prevention Rally.

As he fights to retain control of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, Jorge Perez’s woes continue to pile up at other rural hospitals where he was once hailed as a hero.

Last month, in the second of a three-part series, CBS News aired a piece about Empower, a Perez-run company whose affiliates have been involved in many of the rural hospital takeovers orchestrated by Perez and his associates.

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