State News

News pertaining to the state of Texas.

Universities try again on construction funding

Apr 10, 2015
House Bill 100 would authorize more than $3 billion worth of debt to pay for projects across the state.
Texas A&M University-Commerce

After years of waiting, state universities in 2013 came agonizingly close to securing billions of dollars to pay for new labs, student centers and classrooms. The projects had bipartisan support, and bills authorizing debt for their construction passed the House and the Senate.

But as the session wound down, differences between the two bills were never quite resolved, and all that money slipped away in the session's final hours.

Universities try again on construction funding

Apr 10, 2015
House Bill 100 would authorize more than $3 billion worth of debt to pay for projects across the state.
Texas A&M University-Commerce

After years of waiting, state universities in 2013 came agonizingly close to securing billions of dollars to pay for new labs, student centers and classrooms. The projects had bipartisan support, and bills authorizing debt for their construction passed the House and the Senate.  

But as the session wound down, differences between the two bills were never quite resolved, and all that money slipped away in the session's final hours.  

Fort Hood victims to be awarded Purple Heart medals

Apr 10, 2015
Fort Hood officials plan to present more than 40 Purple Hearts and its civilian version, the Defense of Freedom Medal.
NPR

Texas' top elected officials are convening Friday at Fort Hood to help award Purple Heart medals to victims of the 2009 shooting there, the culmination of a years-long push to make them eligible for the decoration. 

Fort Hood officials plan to present more than 40 Purple Hearts and its civilian version, the Defense of Freedom Medal. The recipients are scheduled to be revealed three hours before the 9 a.m. ceremony. 

Local governemnt: School lobbying in ethics crosshairs

Apr 10, 2015
The legislation is designed to bar school districts and local government entities from using tax dollars to hire lobbyists or pay associations that lobby for them in Austin.
provided image

Local government officials on Thursday unleashed a torrent of criticism against a pair of bills that would restrict how they can interact with members of the Texas Legislature. 

The legislation, sponsored by freshman Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, is designed to bar school districts and local government entities from using tax dollars to hire lobbyists or pay associations that lobby for them in Austin, such as the Texas Association of Counties or the Texas Association of School Boards. Some last minute tweaks would weaken the outright prohibition in some circumstances.  

Lawmakers skeptical of body cameras for police

Apr 10, 2015
Body cameras may make their way into all Texas police department.
Commerce Police Department

State Rep. Ron Reynolds made his case on Thursday for requiring police in Texas to wear body cameras, citing national news out of South Carolina at a public legislative hearing.  

“You can look no further than the most recent incident in South Carolina,” the Missouri City Democrat said, referring to a bystander’s video of a cop shooting and killing an unarmed black man. “But for that video recording, it’s very unlikely that that officer would have been charged with murder.”   

Texas House gives final approval to pre-K bill

Apr 9, 2015
House Bill 4, authored by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), was given final approval today.
NPR

The Texas House gave final approval Thursday to an early education bill backed by Gov. Greg Abbott, sending it to the upper chamber on a vote of 128 to 17.

Senate panel sets sights on in-state tuition law

Mar 27, 2015
Senate Bill 1819 would repeal the 2001 law that allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
NPR

The push to repeal a 2001 law that allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities is returning to the legislative spotlight, but on an unusual stage.

Long legislative road for voucher bills begin

Mar 26, 2015
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is a supporter of increased use of school vouchers in Texas.
NPR

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

A preview of the looming battle at the Texas Capitol over school vouchers played out Thursday as a state Senate panel considered two proposals to provide state financial support to parents who want to send their children to private schools.

Debate focused on how to ensure taxpayer funds are well spent at participating private schools as lawmakers traded questions over whether such plans would improve education in the state.

Rural Hospitals Struggle to Keep Their Doors Open

Mar 20, 2015

It could have happened anywhere, but it was on the high plains of Guthrie, Texas — 90 miles east of Lubbock — where Dannie Tiffin suddenly collapsed of a heart attack last spring.

No one knows for certain, but doctors and hospital staff in this rural area say they’re pretty sure the 62-year-old electrician could have made it, had he gotten care in time.

“The ‘what-ifs’ — that has haunted me and our children day and night,” said Keitha Tiffin, Dannie’s wife, who works at a hospital in Childress. “The thought that if he had been here, would he still be with us today?”

Campus carry debate hits Senate floor

Mar 18, 2015
Debate began today on a bill that would repeal existing law prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from carrying their weapons on such campuses.
NPR

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Texas may soon be a step closer to requiring public colleges and universities to allow concealed handguns on campus — a policy opposed by many higher education leaders.

House committee takes up open carry, campus carry bills

Mar 17, 2015
House Bill 910 would allow concealed handgun license owners to openly carry a handgun in public, and House Bill 937 would allow students to carry concealed handguns on a college campus.
Creative Commons

The day after the Texas Senate voted to loosen state handgun regulations, a House committee Tuesday morning considered proposals to allow the open carry of handguns with a license and the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses.

Texas Senate considers allowing open carry of handguns

Mar 16, 2015
The Texas Senate began debating a bill lifting some of the state's restrictions on handguns this afternoon.
NPR

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

A bill lifting some of the state's restrictions on handguns may be among the first passed out of the Texas Senate this legislative session.

Debate began Monday afternoon in the upper chamber on legislation that would allow permit holders to carry holstered handguns openly.

Private sector plays a big role in state water planning

Mar 13, 2015
The water plan’s new prominence is highlighting how involved private engineering and consulting firms are in deciding what the state needs.
StateImpact Texas

Until recently, Texas’ state water plan wasn’t much to look at.

Essentially a catalog of more than 3,000 water supply projects across the state that some government or another hoped to build, it was seen as nothing more than a wish list, compiled from the work of 16 regional planning groups every five years.

House budget sets up transportation funding debate

Mar 12, 2015
Appropriations Chairman John Otto, R-Dayton, said the House budget adds $1.5 billion to transportation funding from general revenue, the portion of the budget lawmakers have the most control over.
KUT

Following five weeks of hearings, House budget writers put the final touches Thursday on a two-year budget plan that could sharpen the debate with Senate leaders on how to boost money for transportation.

'Former Fetus' signs cause stir at capitol

Mar 12, 2015
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford)
Texas Public Radio

Signs calling some state lawmakers former fetuses are causing a stir at the Capitol, with one representative accusing another of intimidating his staff by removing them.  

One of the signs appeared Wednesday morning on the wall outside Rep. Jonathan Stickland's office. It identifies the Bedford Republican as a "FORMER FETUS," using a format similar to the plaques near most members' doors.  

"It's just been ripped down and thrown in my staffer's face by Charlie Geren," Stickland said, referring to the Fort Worth Republican who chairs the House Administration Committee.  

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