Rhonda Fanning

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

From Texas Standard:

Lubbock saw the same summer spike in COVID-19 cases as much of Texas. And, like much of the state, those cases decreased for a while after. But they jumped back up again in recent weeks, says Covenant Health Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Craig Rhyne.

From Texas Standard:

In presidential election years past, Democrats weren't willing to spend a lot of money on political ads in Texas because winning in the state was a long shot. But this year is different. Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign recently spent $6 million on online advertisement in Texas, similar to what President Donald Trump's campaign has spent.

From Texas Standard:

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Texas, state and local officials have had to make difficult decisions to protect Texans' health and safety. Some of those decisions have had dire economic consequences.

From Texas Standard:

The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union could mean an opening for new business opportunities between Britain and Texas. For his first overseas trip since Brexit, UK Minister of International Trade, Conor Burns, visited the Lone Star State.

From Texas Standard:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is among the leading Democratic candidates for president nationwide. In Texas, a recent poll found Biden has strong support among likely Democratic voters, though that poll also showed that a mix of registered and unregistered voters believe Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the candidate who could actually defeat President Donald Trump in November.

From Texas Standard:

This has been a busy year, politically speaking. And 2020 will likely top it, given that a presidential election is on the horizon. With that in mind, Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with the leaders of the Texas Republican and Democratic Parties to learn about their top takeaways from this year – and what they expect in the year to come.

From Texas Standard:

Polls show that the country is nearly evenly split about whether President Donald Trump should be impeached. That might put Texas politicians in a precarious position given that Texas isn't the reliably conservative state it once was. Lawmakers who support Trump will please their base of supporters, but they also risk alienating others.

From Texas Standard:

Limited business regulation has led to an influx of large companies and skilled workers in Texas over the past few years. It's contributed to the state's $1.7 trillion economy. But despite massive economic growth, critics say some Texans are left behind.

From Texas Standard:

As Texans gear up for the 2020 elections, some hopeful candidates are struggling to get on the ballot. As a result, the Libertarian and Green Parties and others have sued the Texas secretary of state's office, alleging election laws in Texas discriminate against third-party and independent candidates.

Mark Jones is a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, and says candidates who want to get on the ballot for the governor’s race, for example, but who haven’t won enough votes in past elections, have to get signatures from the public.

From Texas Standard:

The job market surged in Texas after the 2008 financial crisis. But the trend wasn’t spread evenly across the state. The “Texas miracle” seemed to only bless bigger cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Young professionals didn’t exactly flock to smaller towns and more rural parts of the state. 

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:

The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News uncovered hundreds of Southern Baptist Convention, or SBC, church leaders and volunteers who faced sexual misconduct allegations in a recent investigation, “Abuse of Faith.” Reporters found that church leaders often knew about the abuse and did little, if anything, to stop it.

From Texas Standard:

We have talked about the influence Texas lost when senior members of the U.S. House retired or lost re-election bids. But what about the freshman members who replaced them? On what committees did they land, and does a freshman committee assignment have any influence on that lawmaker's trajectory in politics? And while we're at it, what will the elevation of two non-freshman Texans, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Will Hurd, mean for the state?

Paul Fabrizio, professor of political science at McMurry University in Abilene, says Colin Allred, a Democratic freshman from Dallas, scored seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

From Texas Standard:

Where do tornadoes come from? It's not a riddle or a trick question, although the answer may seem obvious: the sky, right? Evidently, that's not the case.

From Texas Standard:

Labor Day once marked the traditional start of election season. That's hard to believe now with 24-hour news cycles, and more and more people tuned in to social media. These days, Labor Day signals the final sprint for those running for office to reach voters before they head to the polls in November. So, with campaigns already well underway, how are the midterms shaping up in Texas?

From Texas Standard.

The nation is grappling with disturbing news of children separated from their parents at the border as a consequence of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for prosecution of border crossers. In Congress, multiple bills have been filed in response. A proposal by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz calls for doubling the number of immigration judges.

From Texas Standard.

As many reacted with shock this week to the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, we also learned from the Centers for Disease Control that suicide rates have risen in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016, the latest year for which complete data is available. Though Texas remains below the national rate, suicides have been rising here, too. The state experiences 12.9 suicides per 100,000 Texans. Across the nation, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in 2016. The CDC says these trends cannot be linked to any specific medical diagnosis. 

From Texas Standard.

Young immigrants protected by the DACA program have been in limbo since the Obama-era program was canceled by President Trump last year.  Now we’re hearing rumblings of Republicans, including at least one from Texas, trying a new strategy to get a DACA vote in Congress.

From Texas Standard.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, activity at Texas factories expanded in March. But the report also indicated that the production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points – the sixth biggest drop since 2004. So what does this mean for the state and its manufacturing industry?

From Texas Standard.

A bill targeting online sex trafficking is up for a vote today in the U.S. House. Authors of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, say it would make it easier for underage victims or prosecutors to hold websites and online services accountable for sex-trafficking activities that occur on their platforms. But the tech industry has been divided on the issue.

From Texas Standard.

Bump stocks are back in the news now that President Donald Trump has made a move to ban them. These devices, which basically turn a semiautomatic gun into an automatic gun, were not used in the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, but were used in the deadly Las Vegas concert shooting in October.

From Texas Standard.

Bacon, blue jeans and beer: three commodities that many Texans take for granted are at stake as Mexico, Canada and the U.S. resume talks about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, this week.

New York Times Reporter Ana Swanson writes that the outcome of these talks may have a more serious impact on Texans’ everyday lives than many realize.

From Texas Standard.

On Monday, the Washington Post broke the story of the now-defunct voter fraud commission purchasing Texas voter records. The story began:

“President Donald Trump’s voting commission asked every state and the District of Columbia for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas’ case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames, newly released documents show.”

Officials from both the White House and the state of Texas say the data was never delivered, because of a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights advocates after the request was made.