Jill Ament

From Texas Standard:

Many Texas political watchers would agree that the 2019 legislative session was surprisingly tame. Legislation about divisive social issues – especially about bathroom access for transgender people, which dominated the session in 2017 – seemed to be a thing of the past. But recently, a custody case in Texas involving a 7-year-old child whose mother identifies the child as transgender has divided some along political lines.

From Texas Standard:

Most discussions about the high cost of college focus on tuition and fees. But in some places, including the University of Texas at Austin, housing can be an even bigger cost. 

From Texas Standard:

A dinosaur fossil has stumped scientists ever since they found it in Big Bend National Park in the early 1980s. Now, 30 years later, paleontologists report that new data helped them determine that the fossil actually belongs to a whole new dinosaur species.

From Texas Standard:

A dinosaur fossil has stumped scientists ever since they found it in Big Bend National Park in the early 1980s. Now, 30 years later, paleontologists report that new data helped them determine that the fossil actually belongs to a whole new dinosaur species.

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

From Texas Standard:

As Texas lawmakers begin tackling one of this session's top legislative priorities – school finance reform – a state Senate measure proposes giving public-school teachers a raise. How much money is on the table and what difference would it make for teachers living paycheck to paycheck? It depends on whom you ask and where you live.

From Texas Standard:

Ever since two important cases struck down gun restrictions in Washington, D.C. and Chicago – rulings that essentially protected gun ownership in the home – a question has remained as to whether it's legal to carry guns in public. But now, the Supreme Court is planning to review a case dealing with that very question; it's known by the shorthand "New York State Rifle."

Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law who specializes in American constitutional law and the Supreme Court. Winkler says the case challenges a New York City ordinance that limits where people with permitted guns can bring them into public; they can bring them to specified gun ranges, for example.

From Texas Standard:

Monday, about 34,000 teachers will walk off the job in Los Angeles – a move described as "historic." It echoes what happened almost a year ago when a West Virginia teacher walkout triggered similar strikes elsewhere in the US. Teachers all over the country are lobbying for higher pay.

Here in Texas, 10 percent of all first-year teachers leave their jobs before their second year. Better pay may be key to keeping more of them in the classroom, and last week, top state lawmakers pledged that 2019 will be the "Year of the Teacher" in the Texas Legislature, promising to boost salaries. But there's still many details yet to be decided.

From Texas Standard:

Political pundits, pollsters and activists have been saying for a while that the 2018 midterm elections are likely to result in some upheaval in the ranks of incumbent officeholders. Already, in special elections in other states, Democrats have run strong in reliably Republican areas, and here at home, one senator, and several members of Congress face enthusiastic opposition. But statewide officeholders – Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller – face somewhat easier paths to reelection. Still, Democrats are campaigning aggressively.

From Texas Standard.

Texas is facing lawsuits over some of its abortion laws, including House Bill 2, which restricts access to abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires abortion clinics to maintain the same medical facilities as hospitals. The state is also being sued over the Fetal Burial Law, which requires clinics to bury remains from abortions and miscarriages.

From Texas Standard.

In a backlash against the president’s immigration policies, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, are now echoing calls from some Democratic Socialists and other progressives that ICE should be dissolved. The Texas Observer first reported this story, picked up today by The New York Times.

From Texas Standard.

Immigrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border could potentially be housed at military bases – including a few in Texas – according to a recent report. Questions are swirling about how exactly this will play out.

From Texas Standard.

In efforts to avoid strict state sanctions, Houston ISD, San Antonio ISD and Waco ISD are all school districts that have recently either considered or adopted plans to consolidate several of their consistently failing public schools into charter school partnerships.

From Texas Standard.

The American Civil Liberties Union has released a report based on some 30,000 pages of internal records from the Department of Homeland Security between 2009 to 2014, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. What they’ve found is what they call “the pervasive abuse and neglect of unaccompanied immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

From Texas Standard.

In an effort to control its borders, the U.S. has been unequivocal in declaring what will happen to those who illegally immigrate to the U.S. with underage kids in tow – you may be be separated from your kids. It’s supposed to be a deterrent. In the past, parents with children were not routinely prosecuted for illegally crossing the border. But that’s changed, and now kids are being separated from their parents.

From Texas Standard.

After another school shooting in Texas, this time in Santa Fe, calls for action have come from various places along the political spectrum. Some believe that beefed-up school security is the answer, while others advocate gun regulation. Texas lawmakers are talking about how to move forward, including Republican Jason Villalba, a member of the Texas House from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.

From Texas Standard.

Ford announced recently that it will stop making most of its sedans, because the money is in trucks and SUVs. But now, gas prices are climbing, after four or five years without a significant increase. Like everyone who drives, and even those who travel by other means, Texans feel the impact of higher gas prices right in the wallet. But here, there’s a bit of a silver lining, because so much of the economy, and even the government’s coffers, rely on oil revenue. But with the Texas economy more diverse than ever, what does $3-a-gallon gas mean, on balance?

From Texas Standard:

The just-released Quinnipiac University survey of some 1,029 registered Texas voters says incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz can count on 47 percent of the vote, while Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke has 44 percent. That 3-point lead for Cruz makes this race too close to call, with an election looming in November.

From Texas Standard.

Texas is re-upping a request to “opt in” to a federal law that would speed up the execution appeals process in the state, potentially leading to quicker executions.

From Texas Standard.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised $6.7 million so far this year from 141,000 contributions in his race to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The Cruz camp hasn’t released fresh numbers yet, but a filing deadline is coming up April 15.

From Texas Standard.

In the 2016 presidential election, evangelical voters were some of President Donald Trump’s most stalwart supporters. But new data from the Pew Research Center indicates that his support among white evangelical women has dropped about 13 percentage points, to 60 percent, compared with about a year ago.

From Texas Standard.

In the middle of all of the hype surrounding South By Southwest, the European ambassador to the U.S. has landed in the Texas capitol city.

Ambassador David O’ Sullivan is representing the EU at SXSW’s Cities Summit.

From Texas Standard.

A woman who once oversaw the youthful offenders program at a Texas prison in Brazoria alleges that “a culture of cover-up” exists at the state’s Department of Criminal Justice, or TDCJ. The would-be whistleblower told Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News that Texas teens who are placed in the program are in danger, because of a cycle of abuse. The concerns detailed by former program supervisor Dominique Mitchell have been ignored and reporting of incidents discouraged, according to Mitchell.

From Texas Standard.

There’s not much more politicking left in the 2018 Texas primary elections. The mailers have been sent, the town halls have been held, the donations have been deposited. There’s not much left to do but wait for the returns – and vote on Tuesday, if you haven’t yet. You can be sure that political journalists across Texas are already writing outlines for Wednesday’s news, gaming out possible outcomes and wondering about what it all means.

From Texas Standard.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Texas but the one about being the reddest of the red states may be about to become less accurate. Karen Tumulty is a veteran reporter – now political columnist – for the Washington Post. In her latest column she writes Texas could turn a little bit bluer in 2018.

From Texas Standard:

As Texans head to the polls for early voting, a new Texas Tribune report has found that state campaigns have raised $67 million so far– and $57 million of that went to Republican candidates.

From Texas Standard.

The Texas primaries are less than a month away, with many officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, up for reelection. Abbott announced on Tuesday what some are calling a big campaign push – it’s a “preventing, protecting, punishing” proposal aimed at rape kit testing backlogs, sexual misconduct in the State Capitol, and stronger penalties for human trafficking and prostitution.

From Texas Standard.

As President Donald Trump touts America’s nuclear arsenal, two nuclear weapons plants in the U.S. are running into some financial trouble. The Center for Public Integrity reports that the two plants – the Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. – have failed to keep the ambitious cost savings promises that were made four years ago.

From Texas Standard:

There’s a shakeup going on at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department after a Dallas Morning News investigation revealed widespread allegations of different types of abuse. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this week he's replacing the chief of the independent office that investigates safety complaints by youth in the department's custody. The new person in the office, JD Robertson, is a retired Texas Ranger.

From Texas Standard.

Despite an economy that is reportedly continuing to grow, the state’s budget chief is looking ahead to the next legislative session and warning lawmakers that some bills with hefty price tags are set to come due – and that revenue will be tight.

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