Texas

The clock’s ticking to get federal disaster aid from February’s winter storm. The Biden administration is offering grants and low interest loans could help cover losses.

If a business, home or nonprofit suffered more damage than insurance covers, a low-interest federal loan could help close the gap. Susheel Kumar works with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) a government agency that provides disaster assistance.

With two months left in the legislative session, Texas state policymakers are split on two key issues related to the deadly power outages in February: electricity repricing and natural gas reforms.

The Texas state court system is signaling that it will no longer enforce a federal order aimed at stopping evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. That could clear the way for landlords to push ahead with tens of thousands of eviction cases that have been on hold.

The timing could be particularly painful for many families, coming after Congress has approved billions of dollars to help people pay the rent they owe to avoid eviction but before the vast majority of renters have been able to receive any of that money.

Voting rights groups in Texas are asking corporations to apply pressure on lawmakers to fight Republican bills that would inhibit voter access.

During a call with reporters Tuesday, the groups called on corporations to stop political contributions to lawmakers who vote for the slew of voting bills moving through the Legislature.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he banned state agencies, political subdivisions and organizations receiving public funds from creating "vaccine passports" or otherwise requiring someone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive services.

A Republican candidate in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, R-Arlington, is facing intense backlash and has lost two of her biggest supporters after saying she does not want Chinese immigrants in the United States.

Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Rangers baseball organization on Monday declining the invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the their home opening game Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field. The game is the first U.S. sporting event to allow a full-capacity crowd since the coronavirus pandemic started.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Legislature is considering new measures to improve Texas’ electric grid after February’s devastating winter storm and widespread power outages.

Senate Republicans on Thursday cleared the way for new, sweeping restrictions to voting in Texas that take particular aim at forbidding local efforts meant to widen access.

Updated April 2, 2021 at 2:30 PM ET

Major corporations with offices in Texas are speaking out against Republican legislative proposals in the state that would curb expanded voter access.

Corporate heavy hitters American Airlines, which is located in Fort Worth, and Dell Technologies, headquartered in Round Rock, were the first to criticize the attempts to alter state election laws.

A slew of local candidates are running for local, municipal elections and Thursday is the deadline to register to vote.

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A Texas Hill Country lifestyle coach and her boyfriend were both arrested last week for allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the FBI.

Elizabeth Rose Williams, of Kerrville, and Brad Bennett were seen on Capitol grounds and inside the building in security camera footage and social media posts that Bennett had posted onto Facebook, according to court documents.

"Stormed the Capitol. Pray for us all," Bennett allegedly wrote via Facebook. "This is OUR HOUSE!"

The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously approved a sweeping bill that would overhaul the state’s electricity industry and infrastructure, including mandating that power plants prepare for extreme weather and outlawing

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The Texas Department of State Health Services has launched an online portal matching people with an appointment to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Texas House will vote Tuesday on a handful of bills related to February’s deadly blackouts. The package of legislation has been fast-tracked by lawmakers who say it will safeguard Texas against future blackouts. But among the bills is a proposal that some analysts say would actually make another blackout more likely.

House Bill 17 by Beaumont Democratic state Rep. Joe Deshotel would stop Texas cities and towns from banning natural gas hookups in new construction.

From Texas Standard:

Mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia have returned the issue of gun violence to the national agenda. But in Texas, where four recent mass shootings in a three-year span took more than 60 lives, Republican lawmakers have filed several measures that would expand gun rights.

From Texas Standard:

Texas lawmakers are in the thick of the legislative session. But one of their primary tasks is going to be severely delayed.

Every 10 years, the Legislature redraws Texas’ political maps based on results from the census. But census results are delayed until at least Sept. 30 because of the pandemic.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to allow the Texas Rangers to apply for a special visa on behalf of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S.

Fernando Dubove, a Dallas immigration attorney, says the Texas Rangers could apply for what is known as an S visa. This is a special type of visa that could be granted to an unauthorized immigrant who cooperates with law enforcement in a criminal investigation.

Last year, when Isabel Longoria had to figure out how to safely hold an election during a pandemic, she saw the daunting task as an opportunity to do things differently.

"I just started dreaming," says Longoria, the elections administrator for Harris County in Texas. "And I just said, 'OK, let's start from the beginning — not with what's possible first — but what do voters want, and what's going to make it safer?' "

In the first press conference of his presidency on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced plans to fast-track the processing of migrant children out of federal shelters and blamed the influx of migrants arriving at the border on seasonal increases, not “because I’m a nice guy."

Biden said he would redirect U.S. Department of Health and Human Services staff to help children more quickly connect with family in the U.S.so they can be transferred out of overcrowded facilities.

New numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services show 111 people died of causes related to last month’s winter storm.

Nine of those deaths were in Travis County — the second highest death toll in the state. Harris County had the most confirmed deaths from the storm at 31.

A Texas court has ruled that state law prohibiting discrimination at work also applies to LGBTQ people.

Voting rights groups in Texas are asking state lawmakers to accommodate remote public input as they consider sweeping voting legislation this week.

On Monday, a coalition of advocacy groups — including Disability Rights Texas, League of Women Voters of Texas, Texas NAACP, Mi Familia Vota, MOVE Texas Action Fund and the Texas Civil Rights Project — sent a letter to leaders of the House elections committee ahead of a hearing Thursday for House Bill 6.

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The State of Texas says it will allow all adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 29.

The civil rights lawyer told KERA Friday that the death of Marvin Scott III in the Collin County jail made it clear he needed to take a different approach to protect the civil rights of vulnerable Texans.

“I’ve decided that, this case being the line, that I’m running against Ken Paxton for attorney general in 2022,” Merritt said Friday morning.

Paxton, who lives in the Collin County city of McKinney, was first elected attorney general in 2014.

Texas led the country in documented incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2020, according to a report out this week from the Anti-Defamation League. These incidents can range from hate groups recruiting people on the internet to distributing flyers to holding rallies.

There were 574 documented incidents in the state last year. Texas was followed by Washington state, which saw 345 incidents.

In the last month, Texans have received more than $95 million in federal funding for damages from the February winter storm.

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Shawn Fagan stokes a slow-burning fire just beyond the edge of his vegetable farm in Kyle. Usually, the pile is filled with debris from around the farm or leftover cardboard boxes from online orders.

After Specialist Vanessa Guillen was killed by another soldier at Fort Hood last April, a civilian review panel looked at how Army investigators handled the case — and the base’s ability to respond to sexual assault and harassment allegations.

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