Texas News

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Trisha Cunningham, President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, says the food-insecure families she serves ballooned by 25% in the past year.

"We’ve provided access to about 120 million meals and our goal for 2025 was 92 million," Cunningham said.

Xcel Energy/https://www.hppr.org/post/winter-storm-impacts-thousands-xcel-energy-customers-texas-panhandle

AMARILLO, Texas (March.17, 2021) – Close to 25,000 Xcel Energy customers in the Texas Panhandle were without power at midday after blizzard conditions damaged power lines across the area.

According to a press release from Xcel Energy, the storm struck early Wednesday morning closing roads in and out of Amarillo, causing numerous outages and making travel difficult. Xcel Energy has been staging crews in Amarillo and Pampa and crews from other regions have been mobilized and are on their way to assist.

From Texas Standard:

Texas Republicans have made a wish list of sorts, outlining how they want elections in Texas to proceed after some counties changed their voting procedures last year during the pandemic.

At least 57 people died in Texas as a result of last month’s winter storm, according to preliminary data the state health department released Monday.

The largest number of deaths — at least 25 — occurred in Harris County, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported.

Children may become an important factor in helping Texas and the U.S. reach COVID-19 herd immunity, according to preliminary results of an ongoing statewide study.

The research looks at the presence of antibodies for COVID-19 in people across Texas. Preliminary results from thousands of blood samples and patient surveys say between 14 and 24% of Texans have COVID antibodies due to past infection.

ERCOT Says It Doesn't Have To Release Power Outage Data

Mar 12, 2021

From Texas Standard:

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, is holding on tightly to records related to last month’s winter storm power blackouts.

Amazon To Open New Fulfillment Center In Amarillo

Mar 11, 2021

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 11, 2021 -- Amazon.com, Inc. plans to open a new fulfillment center in Amarillo, Texas. The new operations facility is expected to create over 500 new, full-time jobs with industry-leading pay and comprehensive benefits starting on day one, according to a press release from Amazon.