KERA

All but one of the 10 Democrats running to flip nationally targeted U.S. House seats in Texas raised more than their Republican opponents over the past three months, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

In six of those nine races, the Republican ended the quarter with more cash on hand, a financial advantage heading into the last full month before Election Day. But the Democratic fundraising shows serious momentum as the national party reaches the finale of its drive to make Texas the top congressional battleground nationwide this November.

Upon resigning from his job as college preparatory coordinator at Pflugerville High School last month, Daniel Dawer wrote two letters. The first explained to his employer that he would have gladly continued teaching remotely from his home but did not feel safe returning to the classroom as he had been ordered.

The second was to his students, begging them to stick with virtual learning for their families’ safety and expressing his lack of faith in Pflugerville Independent School District’s plan for bringing students and teachers back into classrooms.

In Texas, the pool of potential voters is dramatically different now than it was just a decade ago.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and his Democratic opponent, MJ Hegar, butted heads Friday evening in a debate over a host of timely issues — the coronavirus pandemic, race and policing, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Immigrant advocates are demanding U.S. immigration officials not deport a group of Black migrants being held at Prairieland Detention Center south of Fort Worth.

Instead, they want federal officials to investigate allegations from eight men who say they were physically abused and threatened while previously detained at Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi.

A tremendous amount of attention is now on the U.S. Supreme Court and the confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett.

Meanwhile, starting with early voting on Oct. 13, voters in Texas will be able to make important judicial choices of their own, including who will sit on the Texas Supreme Court. It’s the highest state court for all civil cases.

Four seats will be on the ballot, including chief justice.

Why The Court Matters

After thousands took to the streets this summer to protest police brutality and racial injustice, galvanized by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, some Texas law enforcement agencies faced stiff criticism for their responses.

Allegations of excessive force prompted Austin to slash its police budget and other jurisdictions to adopt a series of reforms, from prohibiting the use of certain “less-lethal” weapons to requiring officers to intervene when they see another use extreme measures.

Senior officials in the Texas Attorney General's Office have asked federal law enforcement to "investigate allegations of improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential crimes" by their boss, the Austin-American Statesman and KVUE-TV first reported Saturday.

The senior staff members, including Jeff Mateer, who resigned from his post as Paxton’s top aide this week after several years leading the agency, notified the agency’s human resources director that they sought the investigation.

Voting rights advocates and civic groups have rushed to the courthouse in a bid to block Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's Oct. 1 order allowing Texas counties no more than one drop-off location for voters casting absentee ballots, calling the directive an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote that will disproportionately impact voters of color in the state’s biggest cities.

A number of pharmaceutical companies have entered the home stretch in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine: human trials.

One of those trials is being conducted at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and Ashley Agura is the perfect candidate. As a Physician Assistant, she spends 12 hours a day taking care of COVID-19 patients. A typical day for Agura starts around 7 a.m.

Texas voters will not be able to select every candidate of a major political party with one punch, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, upholding a 2017 state law that ends the popular practice of straight-ticket voting for this year’s general election.

A new poll from the University of Houston and Univision found that 90% of Texas Latino voters will or will probably vote in the 2020 presidential election.

These voters also perceive this upcoming election as highly consequential: 79% said it was more important to vote in 2020 than in the 2016 presidential election.

A federal appeals court on Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court’s ruling last week that reinstated the practice of straight-ticket voting, again casting into uncertainty whether Texas voters will have the option in the Nov. 3 election to vote for every candidate of a political party with one punch. A final ruling is expected after the court weighs the arguments more thoroughly.

As Texas Restaurants Expand Service, Struggling Bar Owners Say They’re Being Ignored

Sep 24, 2020

As Texas expanded its occupancy rules for restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic, bar owners say they’re still feeling the pinch — and some have accused the governor of picking winners and losers in the reopening process.

Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced restaurants, retail, offices and other businesses could now allow up to 75% capacity, starting Monday.

But most bars and nightclubs remain closed in Texas, leaving struggling bar owners frustrated.

In Texas — as around the country — college towns are emerging as new hot spots for the coronavirus, with cases surging among student populations and administrators scrambling to keep infections from reaching the broader population.

Kathy Schneider worked as a Dallas County election clerk in 2018, but out of concern about the coronavirus, she’s choosing not to this year.

“I am 64 and really not interested in exposing myself to coronavirus any more than I need to do,” Schneider said.

Instead, she’s volunteering as a poll watcher for the Democratic party, which she can do outdoors and distanced in a parking lot.

Texas long-term care facilities — even those with active COVID-19 cases — can allow visitors beginning Sept. 24, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

Eligible facilities include nursing homes and intermediate care centers that serve residents without COVID-19, but that also have an isolation wing reserved for those who test positive for the virus. Visitation will also be allowed at state supported living centers, which house residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In the spring, as public health officials were beginning to see the novel coronavirus spreading in Texas, Danny Updike had bad news and good news for health care workers in the San Angelo region where he works in emergency response.

Texas DHS Changes How It Reports COVID-19 Positivity Rate

Sep 16, 2020

Texas health officials announced Monday that they are changing the way the state reports a key metric used to evaluate the extent of coronavirus infection, a move that conceded that the state’s previous method of calculating the “positivity rate” muddied the extent of viral transmission by mixing old data with new.

A group of faculty at Texas Christian University wants the school to take stricter measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff — including a possible return to online-only classes.

The number of cases at TCU spiked shortly after students returned in August, according to the school’s self-reported COVID-19 data. At the beginning of September, there were more than 400 active cases.

Texas primary care doctors say they’re hemorrhaging cash and at risk of closing their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, and a new trade group proposal argues it’s time for Texas lawmakers to overhaul how physicians’ practices get paid.

More patients are forgoing office visits as they stay home to avoid the virus, and doctors’ offices report that their revenues have fallen sharply as a result. Many large health insurance companies have posted huge profits during the same period.

Maria Flores thought she was doing the right thing when she surrendered her dog, Muffy, to Dallas Animal Services. The 10-year-old Maltese needed medical treatment, but she couldn’t afford to pay for it.

That visit led Dallas County Sheriff's deputies to arrest Flores five months later. Now, she’s in an immigration detention center, facing a felony and possible deportation.

On a normal first day of school, Texas children would wake up early to cram into school buses, eager to huddle and chat with their friends in the hallways before streaming toward their classrooms.

The North Texas Poison Center's received regional reports of at least 46 cases of ingestion or overexposure to bleach since Aug. 1. A few involved attempts to avoid or stop COVID-19.

The numbers were similar to the same time period a year ago. However, Cristina Holloway, Public Health Education Manager for the center, said there were shifts in the ages involved.

In what it’s calling its biggest week-long registration effort in history, the Texas Democratic Party is trying to contact one million unregistered voters in the span of a week.

Through phone calls and text messages, they’ll direct people to a party website to get the registration process started. Voters can enter their information and then receive an application form in the mail.

A note to listeners: this story discusses suicide. If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

More Americans are reporting thoughts of self-harm as social distancing measures continue. In Fort Worth, the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation is virtually training people to intervene when someone is in crisis.

As families, educators and students adjust to remote instruction, teachers say that in these initial days, they’re spending more time than ever checking in on students and their families, dealing with connectivity issues and answering questions about virtual learning technology.

Several teachers said they’re working longer hours than usual as they constantly seek new ways to engage students. Attention spans already waned during pre-pandemic schooling, and being behind a screen doesn’t make it any easier.

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act at the end of March, part of the goal was to help keep people in their homes as the nation battled a pandemic by trying to get people to stay home. A number of housing experts say that legislation, bolstered by state and local government measures, helped drive down evictions throughout the spring and summer as the nation’s economy saw record job losses.

Now, with the bulk of those protections mostly expired or reduced, 1 in 10 Texans are vulnerable to eviction in the coming months.

Authorities on Friday are searching in Central Texas for another soldier who has gone missing from Fort Hood, with the man’s family members and the U.S. Army asking the public for help.

When the pandemic hit, 16-year-old Amruth Nandish of Houston found he had a lot of time on his hands. 

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