Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that Texas will build a border wall along the state’s boundary with Mexico — but provided no details on where or when.

Abbott declared his plans during a press conference in Del Rio. He said he would discuss the plans next week. The Biden administration issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office.

Soft music rolled over the hills and through the mountain laurels, from a neighbor’s backyard to Trisha and Jeremiah Escamilla’s expensive new water storage tank. “Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground,” the Talking Heads’ David Byrne crooned.

About a year ago, 550 feet under the rocks, stones and rolling hills of their Bandera property, there was no water underground. The dry spell lasted two weeks, and the waitlist to get the well serviced was months-long.

From Texas Standard:

Vice President Harris traveled to Central America and Mexico this week to address the root causes of northward migration with regional leaders.

On August 3, 2019, a white gunman was accused of opening fire in a busy Walmart in El Paso after driving hundreds of miles there from North Texas. According to police and an online screed attributed to the 21-year-old shooter, he was targeting Mexicans. Twenty-three people died in the mass shooting, which became the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern U.S. history.

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More people died on Texas roads in the first five months of the year than during the same period in 2020, according to a database maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The 1,636 people killed in crashes through May represent a 14% increase over the same time period last year.

Texas businesses that require customers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be denied state contracts and could lose their licenses or operating permits under legislation Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Monday.

“Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Abbott said before signing the law, in a video he posted Monday on Twitter. “Vaccine passports are now prohibited in the Lone Star State.”

There was hope in the air when state lawmakers from El Paso arrived in Austin for the 2021 Texas Legislature. For them, this was going to be the year they passed substantive firearm restrictions in gun-loving Texas — an unreachable, unfathomable goal for any other Legislative session.

In late March, Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference at Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas to announce a new bill that would expand broadband access in the state. The choice of venue was purposeful — Beaumont ranks as one of the most poorly internet-connected cities in the country.

Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for Texas' Southern border, citing “an ongoing and imminent threat of widespread and severe damage, loss of life, property damage, human trafficking, violent crime, and threats to public health” that he attributed to a recent rise in migration.

Texas GOP Chairman Allen West announced his resignation Friday morning, raising speculation he could run for statewide office.

West, who took over the party in July 2020, will remain chair until a successor is picked on July 11, the party said.

“It has been my distinct honor to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. I pray Godspeed for this governing body,” he said in a statement.

The party said in a statement that West “will take this opportunity to prayerfully reflect on a new chapter in his already distinguished career.”

A federal district judge dismissed on Tuesday a lawsuit to block a voter-approved abortion ban from taking effect in Lubbock, saying Planned Parenthood did not have standing to sue the city.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced Wednesday that he is running for attorney general, challenging fellow Republican Ken Paxton with a sharp focus on Paxton's legal troubles.

"Enough is enough, Ken," Bush said during a campaign kickoff at a downtown Austin bar. "You've brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office. And as a career politician for 20 years, it's time for you to go."

Texas state lawmakers had just started a legislative session when deadly blackouts gripped the state in February. The timing was fortunate. In Texas, legislators typically meet only once every two years. The fact that they were already in Austin meant they could act quickly, and many vowed to shore up the state's electric grid and create safeguards against future power outages.

The Texas Legislature closed out its regular 140-day session Monday with sniping among the state’s top political leaders and lawmakers already well aware they will be back this calendar year for an overtime round.

“We will be back — when, I don’t know, but we will be back,” House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, told members from the speaker’s dais. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but I look forward to doing it with every single one of you.”

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Without enough Texas House members present for a final vote, a GOP-backed election bill failed to pass before a deadline Sunday night.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 7 would have added new restrictions to the state’s already limited vote-by-mail program and changed the standard of who is eligible for a mail-in ballot under the disability category. It would ban 24-hour voting centers, drive-thru voting and voting before 1 p.m. on Sundays.

With Texas Republicans poised to sign off on a sweeping voting bill, President Joe Biden said Saturday that legislation like Senate Bill 7 that restricts voting access is “un-American.”

“Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote, ” Biden said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”

A bill that bans homeless Texans from setting up encampments on public land has been given the final go-ahead from the Texas Legislature, teeing up a likely approval from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Texas Legislature’s two-year, roughly $248 billion state budget is headed to the governor’s desk after the House advanced the proposal Thursday, completing months-long negotiations between the two chambers.

The spending plan, Senate Bill 1, is “a bill that each and every one of us can be very proud of, and it represents the priorities for Texans across the state,” said state Rep. Greg Bonnen, a Friendswood Republican and the House’s chief budget writer, on the House floor as he laid out the legislation.

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While Texas officials have confirmed that 151 deaths were related to the freeze in February, the death toll could actually be four or five times higher, according to a BuzzFeed data review.

The Texas Legislature passed a bill late Tuesday that would immediately outlaw abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion in the U.S.

House Bill 1280 is referred to as a “trigger ban." Ten states have similar laws on the books.

Editor’s note: This story contains explicit language.

Although it had not been officially released, the investigative report began ricocheting around computers and cellphones at the Texas Capitol early Tuesday evening, and it made one thing unambiguously clear: Rick Dennis, a lobbyist with one of Austin's most prominent firms, was not guilty of using a date rape drug on two female legislative staffers during a night out in Austin.

The Texas Senate approved a bill Tuesday night that would make more Texans eligible to be prescribed low-THC medical cannabis oil.

House Bill 1535 would add more conditions to the Texas Compassionate Use Program, including all forms of cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But the Senate's version of the bill differs greatly from the one the House had advanced. The bill originally called for the THC limit in cannabis oil to increase tenfold from 0.5% to 5%, but the Senate approved raising that limit to just 1%.

Dallas Independent School District teacher Jocelyn Foshay was guiding a social studies lesson with her middle school class about the amendment that protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure.

“Where was the Fourth Amendment to protect Breonna Taylor?” a student asked her, referring to a Black woman who was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police officers during a botched raid in 2020.

Foshay turned the question back to her students. “What do you think?” she asked, allowing students to process their thoughts and draw their own conclusions.

A measure long sought by conservative activists allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license is on the cusp of becoming law after the Texas Senate on Monday approved a compromise on the bill, sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott has said he would sign the permitless carry proposal into law.

"We should have 'constitutional carry' in Texas," Abbott told North Texas radio host Rick Roberts in April.

The Texas Legislature is in their final week of session, which means both chambers are working rapidly to pass bills. While working throughout the weekend, one of many bills related to second amendment rights took heat in the legislature.

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People suing commercial vehicle companies over injuries they suffered during a crash would face new limits on what evidence can be presented in the initial phase of a trial under bipartisan legislation that has almost passed the Texas legislature.

Commercial vehicles include everything from an 18-wheeler to someone driving a subcompact car for a flower delivery company.

With time dwindling on the legislative session, the Texas House is breaking until Sunday, in an attempt to send the Senate a clear message: Pass our priority bills or see your own legislation die slowly in our chamber.

House lawmakers expressed frustration Thursday that some of their priority legislation had not moved in the upper chamber, including a package of health care and criminal justice reform bills pushed by House Speaker Dade Phelan.

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