Texas Standard

Whatever Happened To The Dennis Bonnen Scandal?

Oct 8, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Not long after the end of this year's "Kumbaya" legislative session, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen was accused of trading press access to the House floor for the targeting of potential political adversaries. But some two months later, Bonnen is still in power, and little has come of the scandal. 

From Texas Standard:

When President Donald Trump started slapping tariffs on Chinese imports to the United States in 2018, one American company that stood to lose big was Apple. The parts Apple needed from China to build its top-of-the-line Mac Pro would have been prohibitively expensive to assemble in the U.S. But now, Apple has announced it’s not only building the Mac Pro in America, but production will be right here in Texas.

From Texas Standard:

Texas is increasingly becoming important in the 2020 presidential race. Republican Congressman Will Hurd called it a “jump ball” during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival on Thursday. In other words, the state, in his mind, is up for grabs.

From Texas Standard:

As GPS is used more and more to help us get where we’re going, a new exhibit at Sul Ross State University’s Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine is making a case for why maps still matter. 

From Texas Standard:

Several states have recently reported dramatic upticks in the number of people experiencing illnesses associated with vaping. Reported cases have more than doubled, to 450, spread over 33 states, including Texas. While no one in Texas has died, six people have died elsewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has confirmed a plan to ban at least some electronic cigarettes.

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From Texas Standard:

The scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and a secretly recorded conversation with conservative blogger and activist Michael Quinn Sullivan continues to roil the statehouse.

From Texas Standard:

A number of new laws passed this spring by the Legislature will take effect Sept. 1. They represent changing political winds in the Lone Star State.

From Texas Standard:

Most discussions about the high cost of college focus on tuition and fees. But in some places, including the University of Texas at Austin, housing can be an even bigger cost. 

From Texas Standard:

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Department of Public Safety – the agency that issues driver's licenses and patrols state highways – will start battling white supremacy as part of its duties. This comes after the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3 when 22 people died. But how equipped are state police agencies to deal with so-called domestic terrorism?

Jeff Gruenewald is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas' Sociology and Criminology Department, and director of the Terrorism Research Center there. He says calling shooters like the one in El Paso “domestic terrorists” is a newer phenomenon in law enforcement, but terrorism researchers like himself have been using that phrase for longer.

From Texas Standard:

Political dynamics in Texas are shifting. That’s, in part, because of a growing Asian population, as well as a massive wave of young people migrating here from other parts of the country. Some argue all that could shift the state from red to blue. But these demographic changes are also happening at the same time as city populations are surging – something some Texas researchers say is an overlooked factor.

From Texas Standard:

Liliana Diaz lives in El Paso, but the rest of her family – her parents, even her daughter – live in Puerto Rico.

From Texas Standard:

A dinosaur fossil has stumped scientists ever since they found it in Big Bend National Park in the early 1980s. Now, 30 years later, paleontologists report that new data helped them determine that the fossil actually belongs to a whole new dinosaur species.

From Texas Standard:

A recently-published health study indicates expectant mothers living near extensive oil and gas development run a higher risk of having children with birth defects.

From Texas Standard:

The Ogallala Aquifer is a massive store of groundwater that quenches the thirst of people, crops and livestock throughout the Great Plains. The aquifer extends, roughly, from Midland, Texas, through the Texas Panhandle and all the way to South Dakota. In fact, it's the aquifer that makes the current way of life on the Plains possible. So what happens if it becomes depleted? 

From Texas Standard:

For people who experience psychosis, getting care early on helps them better manage symptoms and lead productive lives. But for those living in rural Texas, care is often impossible to find. And without it, those living with psychosis can struggle to stay employed, maintain relationships or simply move through the world.

Texas Democrats See Opportunity In 2020 House Races

Jul 22, 2019

From Texas Standard:

While no one expects Texas to "turn blue" any time soon, an energized Democratic Party could mean tighter races for the Texas House of Representatives in 2020. In 2018, winning margins in 17 House races were 10% or less. And 10 of those were in North Texas

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Legislature passed a multibillion-dollar school finance bill during its most recent session. The funds provide a pay increase for teachers and other members of school staff. But now comes the hard part: how to actually apportion those raises.

How Should Texas Choose Its Judges?

Jul 17, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of only seven states where trial court judges are chosen via partisan elections. Gov. Greg Abbott, who is a convert to the idea that this might not be the best way to select judges, signed a law in June creating a 15-member commission to study judicial elections. 

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. 

Ballot Measure Aims To Protect State Park Funding

Jul 3, 2019

From Texas Standard:

The fate of the Texas state park system will be on the ballot in November. Voters will decide whether to strengthen the rules that currently reserve sales taxes paid on sporting goods to fund parks, or, if they vote "no," to continue allowing the money to be siphoned off for other uses. 

Taxes on sporting goods have been dedicated to park funding since 1993, but legislators have continually found other uses for the money – up to 40% has ended up in the state's general fund over those 25 years. Lack of funding, and greater demand for park access by a growing population has left many facilities in disrepair.

From Texas Standard:

As the gap between the wealthy and poor has grown in places where the cost of living is high, cities across the country have been struggling with growing populations of people experiencing homelessness – people soliciting passersby, sleeping and living on public streets and in parks. In Austin, where the wealth gap has been skyrocketing, so have the numbers of people living on the streets.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Religious Liberty Bill, known as the “Save Chick-fil-A bill.”

From Texas Standard:

Horror stories of untested, long-forgotten and even moldy sexual assault evidence kits have been a problem in Texas for years. And those forgotten kits have been on Becky O’Neal’s mind for a long time. 

From Texas Standard:

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. Before the law, a vast majority of Native American children in foster care were placed in homes outside of native communities. The law was meant to correct that, and it mandated that Native American families have priority in adopting Native American children.

From Texas Standard:

If you were making a list of things Texans say that set them apart from non-Texans, friendliness would rank pretty high. Signs of friendliness – literal and otherwise – are ubiquitous here. Look no further than reminders along the interstate to "Drive Friendly, the Texas Way." "Friendship" is the state’s official motto.

From Texas Standard:

Scientists are warning that new 5G internet connectivity could interfere with their ability to forecast the weather. Now, they're bringing their concerns to Congress.

From Texas Standard:

Americans pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for prescription medication: On average, each individual spends $1,200 per year. But now, some states are trying to change that. On Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill that would implement a price cap on insulin, the first law of its kind in the nation.

From Texas Standard:

Travis Krause grew up on the South Texas plains of Medina County, on land his family has been tending to since 1846. Krause always knew he wanted to carry on the tradition, but when he left the family ranch to study wildlife and fisheries sciences at Texas A&M University, his father encouraged him not to come back. For years, Krause’s dad wasn’t able to make a living from his cow and calf operation, and he didn’t want the same hardships for his son.

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