Texas

Lawmakers Say Texas Needs A Statewide Broadband Plan

Oct 2, 2020

From Texas Standard:

The pandemic has been hard for everyone, but especially for those who don't have dependable access to high-speed internet. One thing that might have helped – a statewide broadband plan. Texas is among just six states that don't have such a plan, even though over 2 million Texans lack access to high-speed internet, according to the state comptroller's office. 

From Texas Standard:

In 2018, Texas state health officials were preparing for the possibility of a future pandemic. But by the time COVID-19 reached Texas last spring, not much more had been done. As a result, the state was caught flat-footed like much of the rest of the country as the pandemic worsened.

Almost 16,000 Texans have died so far from COVID-19, and a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that Texas failed to prepare for a major outbreak when it had the chance.

A number of pharmaceutical companies have entered the home stretch in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine: human trials.

One of those trials is being conducted at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and Ashley Agura is the perfect candidate. As a Physician Assistant, she spends 12 hours a day taking care of COVID-19 patients. A typical day for Agura starts around 7 a.m.

Local officials in Texas say they plan to fight a new order from Gov. Greg Abbott to limit the number of places where voters can hand deliver mail-in ballots.

Abbott announced the order Thursday, the same day local election officials opened the drop-off sites.

Starting Friday, Abbott said in a statement, "mail ballots that are delivered in person by voters who are eligible to vote by mail must be delivered to a single early voting clerk's office location as publicly designated by a county's early voting clerk."

Texas voters will not be able to select every candidate of a major political party with one punch, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, upholding a 2017 state law that ends the popular practice of straight-ticket voting for this year’s general election.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced two new contracts for nearly 40 miles of border wall construction in Webb County on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has now awarded four contracts for its proposed border wall in the Laredo area for a total of more than $1 billion.

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this month, something unusual happened. Birds — thousands of them – seemingly dropped dead overnight in New Mexico. Jenna McCullough, a PhD student in ornithology at the University of New Mexico, went to investigate.

From Texas Standard:

Around the end of March, Chris Swenson thought he had a problem with his website.

Swenson is the head of Swenson ranches, a cattle operation in Elgin and Stamford that’s been in his family since 1882. It was started by his great-great-grandfather Svante Magnus Swenson, Texas’ first immigrant from Sweden.

Lee esta historia en español. 

Almost a million low-income Texans would likely enroll in Medicaid if the state were to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

A new poll from the University of Houston and Univision found that 90% of Texas Latino voters will or will probably vote in the 2020 presidential election.

These voters also perceive this upcoming election as highly consequential: 79% said it was more important to vote in 2020 than in the 2016 presidential election.

A federal appeals court on Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court’s ruling last week that reinstated the practice of straight-ticket voting, again casting into uncertainty whether Texas voters will have the option in the Nov. 3 election to vote for every candidate of a political party with one punch. A final ruling is expected after the court weighs the arguments more thoroughly.

Texas Veterans Sharply Divided Over Trump Heading Into 2020 Election

Sep 28, 2020

Military veterans are a group that traditionally leans Republican. But early this month, The Atlantic published an article alleging President Donald Trump had referred to people who joined the military as "losers" and "suckers," something the president denies.

When Jarrod Stringer updated his driver’s license address in 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety website asked if he wanted to register to vote. He clicked yes and thought he was registered. That fall, when he went to vote in San Antonio, he was denied. According to the system, he had never registered. It was past the registration deadline, so he couldn’t vote.

That kicked off a six-year legal battle that included two lawsuits for the right for Texans to register to vote online while updating their licenses.

Federal Judge Blocks Texas’ Elimination Of Straight-Ticket Voting

Sep 28, 2020

Less than three weeks before early voting begins in Texas, a U.S. district judge has blocked the state from eliminating straight-ticket voting as an option for people who go to the polls this November.

In a ruling issued late Friday, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo cited the coronavirus pandemic, saying the elimination of the voting practice would “cause irreparable injury” to voters “by creating mass lines at the polls and increasing the amount of time voters are exposed to COVID-19.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at a webinar Thursday hosted by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce where he discussed the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the Latinx community and other people of color.

The U.S. death toll exceeded 200,000 deaths this week.

From Texas Standard:

Of the more than 1.1 million public school students estimated to have returned to some form of on-campus school activity in Texas, just under 4,000 have tested positive for COVID-19. That's far less than many teachers and administrators feared. But are those numbers accurate?

At a campaign event in Dallas on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a string of new legislative proposals to raise penalties and create new crimes for offenses committed at protests.

As Texas Restaurants Expand Service, Struggling Bar Owners Say They’re Being Ignored

Sep 24, 2020

As Texas expanded its occupancy rules for restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic, bar owners say they’re still feeling the pinch — and some have accused the governor of picking winners and losers in the reopening process.

Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced restaurants, retail, offices and other businesses could now allow up to 75% capacity, starting Monday.

But most bars and nightclubs remain closed in Texas, leaving struggling bar owners frustrated.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a lawsuit over his extension of early voting for the November election from prominent members of his own party — including state party Chairman Allen West, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and members of the Texas Legislature.

The Texas Historical Commission denied a request to relocate the Cenotaph monument in Alamo Plaza in a 12-2 vote on Tuesday.

The commission vote was needed to allow portions of the Alamo’s $450 million redevelopment plan to go through as previously approved by the San Antonio City Council and Texas General Land Office. The decision leaves uncertainty on how specific aspects will move forward.

From Texas Standard:

The Surplus Agricultural Products Grant is a program Feeding Texas CEO Celia Cole describes as a “win-win-win.” It’s been around for 20 years and Cole says it helps food banks across Texas like those within the network she leads. She says providing food keeps people healthy, which reduces other costs for the state and, she says, it helps specialty crop farmers by paying them for donated produce.

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Latino voters in Texas will be heading to the polls as a pandemic continues to disproportionately affect their communities. That means Latinos could be more preoccupied than usual – but they also have more to lose.

Experts say this dynamic has made it difficult to predict what kind of impact the voting bloc will have.

In Texas — as around the country — college towns are emerging as new hot spots for the coronavirus, with cases surging among student populations and administrators scrambling to keep infections from reaching the broader population.

Kathy Schneider worked as a Dallas County election clerk in 2018, but out of concern about the coronavirus, she’s choosing not to this year.

“I am 64 and really not interested in exposing myself to coronavirus any more than I need to do,” Schneider said.

Instead, she’s volunteering as a poll watcher for the Democratic party, which she can do outdoors and distanced in a parking lot.

Texas long-term care facilities — even those with active COVID-19 cases — can allow visitors beginning Sept. 24, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

Eligible facilities include nursing homes and intermediate care centers that serve residents without COVID-19, but that also have an isolation wing reserved for those who test positive for the virus. Visitation will also be allowed at state supported living centers, which house residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


More than 2,300 of Texas public school students who have returned to school in person since the beginning of this academic year — about 0.21% — have reported testing positive for COVID-19, according to a dashboard the state released Thursday in a first effort to publicly track the way the pandemic is impacting public schools.

In the spring, as public health officials were beginning to see the novel coronavirus spreading in Texas, Danny Updike had bad news and good news for health care workers in the San Angelo region where he works in emergency response.

More than 600 miles of wall are already built along the U.S.-Mexico southern border but President Donald Trump’s administration is working hard to expand that. That includes possible construction in Laredo, where city officials continue to walk a fine line with federal officials throughout the project, and in the Rio Grande Valley across a historic cemetery that residents are working hard to preserve.


In areas where a significant part of the population has limited English proficiency, the 1975 Voting Rights Act requires the "clear, complete and accurate” translation of election materials. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas says 69 counties in the Lonestar State are violating that provision with inadequate or poorly translated information for Spanish-speaking voters.

Lee esta historia en español. 

Retail stores, restaurants, gyms, office buildings, museums and libraries in regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations are under control can open at 75% capacity starting Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference Thursday. Hospitals in these areas can resume elective surgeries immediately, he said.

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