Texas Standard

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.

From Texas Standard:

Many more women and young children are migrating to the U.S. than in years past. But the academic research about their experiences is limited.

From Texas Standard:

Human trafficking is more common than some may think, and experts say it can take place in an average neighborhood with people who may operate undetected. In Texas, it’s especially common: The state has the second-highest number of cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Now, experts warn, it’s on the rise nationwide, which means even more survivors could be looking for help.

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

From Texas Standard:

Massive flood damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey brought attention to some failing dams in the Houston area. Now, it appears the problem is statewide.

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court's decision in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple left open a larger question of whether a business can discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community based on the religious principles of the businessperson.

Now, Texas lawmakers want to provide licensed professionals in Texas with legal cover in the event they are accused of discriminating on the basis of the businessperson's religious beliefs.  

Two Bills Aim To Bring Broadband To Rural Texas

Mar 27, 2019

From Texas Standard:

In the 1930s, a young congressman named Lyndon Johnson decided he wanted to do something grand – on the scale of his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He pushed for rural electrification, i.e., bringing electricity to remote areas that didn't yet have power – both in Texas and across the country. Today, there's a similar urban-rural divide when it comes to broadband internet access.

State senators are considering a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Texas from 18 to 21. 

From Texas Standard:

Last month, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported that though wildfire season typically begins in March, West Texas is seeing wildfires even earlier in the year. As a result, lots of communities have a plan of action for wildfires. But how many Texas communities perform a dry run before an emergency actually happens? So far, only one, the Comanche Trail neighborhood near Lake Travis, has done such a drill.

From Texas Standard:

Though some parts of Texas hit their coldest temperatures of the season this week, overall, this winter has been fairly mild south of Oklahoma -- and wet. That's led to a pretty productive wildflower season. Folks in the Big Bend area say they've seen the largest bluebonnet bloom in decades. And many parts of the state are seeing that bloom slightly early.

Why The STAAR Test May Be Setting Students Up To Fail

Feb 25, 2019

From Texas Standard:

From botched distribution of exams to concerns about so-called teaching to the test, educators and parents alike have been critical of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, standardized tests since their rollout in 2012. And over the past few years, something unusual has been happening: students who are otherwise successful in the classroom are failing the exams.

From Texas Standard:

Ever heard of bartonella henselae? It’s the bacteria behind an illness you’re probably more familiar with – cat scratch fever. What about this one: bovine spongiform encephalopathy? You may know it better as mad cow disease. As you can see, nonscientific names for certain afflictions tend to stick. But sometimes, their meanings may get lost in translation.

From Texas Standard:

Representatives from Texas food banks will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk with legislators about food insecurity and lobby for ways the state can help. Food insecurity is a bigger problem than some may think. The term doesn't just describe people who are going hungry; it also describes people who don’t have the household resources to consistently buy healthy food.

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