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Health care amendment defeated in Senate vote

House passes tree bill decried as ‘a poke in the eye of the governor’

Texas House members gave preliminary approval Thursday to an appropriations bill and measures to lower homeowner fees for tree removal and more strictly report abortion complications — all as discontent grew among conservative members claiming moderate roadblocks to their agenda. House Bill 7, which received preliminary approval in a 132-11 vote, would require cities charging tree removal fees...


TxDOT reconsiders plan for U.S. 183 toll lanes

TxDOT reconsiders plan for U.S. 183 toll lanes

The U.S. 183 North toll project, which aims to add two toll lanes to each side of the highway north of MoPac Boulevard, has been thrown into flux and potentially delayed — part of the collateral damage from growing anti-toll sentiment among the state’s leaders. Officials said some alternatives are being examined, such as building the 8-mile expansion project with no tolls, adding...
As Lady Liberty, Peace Costanzo spreads message of love at Capitol

As Lady Liberty, Peace Costanzo spreads message of love at Capitol

The blistering heat may deter any one of us from wanting to walk outside, but not Peace Costanzo, who stands on the south steps of the Capitol dressed as Lady Liberty for hours at a time. With an American flag draped across her body, a crown on her head and a torch in her right hand, Costanzo greets and takes pictures with visitors of the Capitol — and if asked, she tells visitors that she stands...
Classic Game Fest showcases Austin's place in video game world

Classic Game Fest showcases Austin's place in video game world

This weekend will bring another reminder of Austin's significance in the booming U.S. video game industry. More than 6,000 video game fans are expected to turn out for the Classic Game Fest, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Palmer Events Center. The event, in its 10th year in Austin, is one of a number of Austin-hosted events with at least a partial focus on video games, joining South by Southwest...
PEEPING TOM: Woman reports naked man stood outside her Hyde Park house

PEEPING TOM: Woman reports naked man stood outside her Hyde Park house

When a Hyde Park woman shared information that she found a naked man standing in front of her window at 3 a.m. Thursday, she started hearing similar stories from others. “People were saying, ‘This happened to me, this happened to my neighbor,’” she said. “It's disturbing to know it goes on so much.” The woman asked that the American-Statesman not publish...

Truck driver dead after 2 18-wheelers crash in Smithville, police say

SMITHVILLE Man dead after 18-wheelers crash The driver of an 18-wheeler died Thursday after his vehicle collided with another trailer truck on Texas 71 near Hill Road in Smithville. The other driver was treated at the scene and is OK, Smithville police said. Both vehicles were gravel trucks. The crash happened around 2:50 p.m. The first gravel truck was headed east on Texas 71 and was preparing to...
$2 million grant to expand affordable living community for homeless

$2 million grant to expand affordable living community for homeless

An affordable housing development operated by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes has received a $2 million grant from the Downtown Austin Alliance that will go toward expanding the Community First Village and housing an additional 400 homeless people, the groups said Thursday. The grant represents the Downtown Alliance’s largest gift ever and the largest Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which...
Leander woman grateful her two cats rescued from house fire

Leander woman grateful her two cats rescued from house fire

Jaime Telfeyan was still waiting Thursday to find out from her insurance company if her Leander home was a total loss from the fire caused by a lightning strike this week. But she was grateful too, she said. Firefighters rescued her 2-month old kitten, named Rainbow Cupcake, and her 2-year-old cat, Mr. Butterworth, from the fire Monday at her home in the 2000 block of Lookout Range Drive. Community...
UPDATE: Manor brush fire contained

UPDATE: Manor brush fire contained

7 p.m. update: Firefighters have contained a 45-acre brush fire east of Manor, fire officials said. Crews are still working to extinguish small fires in the contained area, Manor fire officials said. No structures have been effected. A helicopter is dumping water on the area, and a second helicopter is surveying the area from the sky, officials said.  Five different fire departments have...
Dell Medical School, Seton launch study of premature infants

Dell Medical School, Seton launch study of premature infants

The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and Seton Healthcare Family are working together to answer questions about how and why premature infants have trouble regulating breathing, heart beat and swallowing — all things that are controlled in the brain stem and are supposed to be automatic. Dr. Patrick Hodges, a neonatologist at Dell Children’s Medical...
Troubled trucking firm faces scrutiny after Texas deaths

Troubled trucking firm faces scrutiny after Texas deaths

The trucking company linked to the recent deadly human smuggling case in Texas had promoted itself as an American success: a family firm whose hard-working drivers helped keep the U.S. economy running. But behind that image was a cutthroat business that flouted federal laws for years, yet managed to stay afloat despite financial troubles and tangles with prosecutors, regulators and tax collectors...
JUST IN: All 15 detainees from Texas Capitol immigration protest released, group says

JUST IN: All 15 detainees from Texas Capitol immigration protest released, group says

The four DACA recipients and 11 supporters arrested during a protest at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday morning were released, organizers of the event confirmed Thursday.  The protesters had been demonstrating in favor of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects certain undocumented immigrant children from deportation. A sit-in took place on...
Kyle’s first charter school scheduled to open in fall 2018

Kyle’s first charter school scheduled to open in fall 2018

Kyle is scheduled to get its first charter school next year when IDEA Public Schools plans to open a campus on Goforth Road near the Bluestem St. intersection. IDEA’s plans also include a Pflugerville campus for the 2018-2019 school year, near the intersection of Wells Branch Parkway and Immanuel Road. IDEA expects to enroll 480 students at each campus in the first year, adding a grade-level...
Lawmakers scaling back provisions in ‘hyper-grandfathering’ bill

Lawmakers scaling back provisions in ‘hyper-grandfathering’ bill

Senate Bill 12, the so-called hyper-grandfathering bill that has the potential to roll back land use codes on some properties by decades, has been lanced after lawmakers expressed concerns over how it could undermine health, fire and safety codes. The bill, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities for the special session, was one of the few that did not pass during Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s breakneck...
Back-to-school check list: Do you know what day school starts?

Back-to-school check list: Do you know what day school starts?

We’ve got three more weeks of summer vacation, for most local students. The start dates are much earlier for some districts. Aug. 16? Yikes. Do you know when your school starts? Here are the start dates for our local school districts: Students at Hudson Bend Middle School crowd up to their lockers before classes start for the school year. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman ...
House panel advances teacher pay, retiree health care bill

House panel advances teacher pay, retiree health care bill

The Texas House Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved two bills that would use the state’s rainy day fund to give current teachers a $1,000 pay raise as well as cut health insurance costs for retired teachers. House Bill 24, filed by Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, would raise minimum salaries for teachers, librarians and counselors in statute as well as give them a $1,000...
Boutique Canopy hotel planned for West Sixth Street

Boutique Canopy hotel planned for West Sixth Street

Plans are coming together for a new boutique hotel with a ground-floor restaurant on West Sixth Street, according to a filing with the city of Austin. Documents indicate the hotel, which would be affiliated with Hilton’s relatively new Canopy brand, would be built on the site of a now-vacant building at 612 W. Sixth St. That building formerly housed the Slate Restaurant and, before that, 219...
UPDATE: Collision of two 18-wheelers caused death of truck driver, police say

UPDATE: Collision of two 18-wheelers caused death of truck driver, police say

4:50 p.m. update: The driver of an 18-wheeler died Thursday after his vehicle collided with another 18-wheeler on Texas 71 near Hill Road in Smithville. The eastbound lanes of Texas 71 are still closed at the crash site. The other driver was treated at the scene and is OK, Smithville police said. Both vehicles were gravel trucks. The crash happened around 2:50 p.m. The first gravel truck was headed...
NOTHING TO SEE, FOLKS: False call prompts large emergency response in South Austin along I-35

NOTHING TO SEE, FOLKS: False call prompts large emergency response in South Austin along I-35

If you saw a barrage of emergency vehicles rushing to a South Austin apartment complex in the 8000 block of Interstate 35 on Thursday, it was for a fake call. Police, firefighters and emergency medical crews were called out to the northbound service road of the highway – north of Slaughter Lane and south of William Cannon Drive – around 2:21 p.m. for a report of a possible hostage situation...
State grants $13.5 million for 132-unit affordable complex in Mueller

State grants $13.5 million for 132-unit affordable complex in Mueller

Foundation Communities has received $13.5 million from the state to build an affordable housing complex in Mueller, the nonprofit announced Thursday. The 132-unit complex, called The Jordan, will feature housing for people making about 50 to 60 percent of the median family income, with 14 units reserved for families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The complex will also have a learning...
Slain store owner was targeted in North Austin shooting, police say

Slain store owner was targeted in North Austin shooting, police say

It was business as usual — or as usual as business could be — Thursday at AAA Fire and Safety, just hours after the fire equipment store’s owner, Majid Hemmasi, was gunned down in the parking lot and another employee was shot. Cars filled lined the storefront on the 6700 block of Guadalupe Street, the lights were on and the door was open. Employees staffed the counter,...
DOWN TO THREE: Finalists announced for Austin’s director of libraries

DOWN TO THREE: Finalists announced for Austin’s director of libraries

The final candidates to be the director of Austin’s public library system were announced Thursday during a town hall event at the Carver Branch library in East Austin. The three finalists were chosen from an initial pool of 51 applicants to lead the library system after its long-time director retired last year. They spoke briefly to a crowd of about 100 people at the Carver Library Branch in...
GREG KELLEY CASE: Surprises from 2014 trial are fodder for key hearing

GREG KELLEY CASE: Surprises from 2014 trial are fodder for key hearing

Greg Kelley’s 2014 child sexual assault trial was full of surprises. One of his alleged victims recanted on the witness stand. A woman called to testify for Kelley performed so badly that Kelley’s own lawyers conceded that it was “a spectacle.” An unexpected prosecution witness accused him of lying about being a Marine sniper. It’s been three years since Kelley&rsquo...
Georgetown lowers property tax rate in proposed budget

Georgetown lowers property tax rate in proposed budget

Georgetown’s proposed $336.8 million budget lowers the property tax rate by .4 cents, adds 21 jobs to the city, gives pay raises to employees, plans for a new fire station, includes voter-approved work on roads and helps open a park donated by a millionaire. Despite the lower property tax rate, the typical homeowner will see a $46.71 increase in taxes because property values have increased by...
Texas House votes again to move forward on tree bill Abbott vetoed

Texas House votes again to move forward on tree bill Abbott vetoed

Texas House members voted Thursday to advance a bill that would lower the fees that cities require for tree removal — a measure similar to one Gov. Greg Abbott already vetoed, while a bill the governor requested for the special session remains stalled in committee. House Bill 7 would require cities charging tree removal fees to allow the planting of replacement trees as an option to offset fees...

Community news: Volunteer to help Travis County victims

TRAVIS COUNTY TRAVIS COUNTY Volunteer to help victims The Travis County sheriff’s office’s victim services unit is seeking volunteers to provide immediate assistance to victims of criminal and crisis circumstances. Volunteers must complete a comprehensive training program that is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sept. 11 through Oct. 2. Volunteers...
Mayim Bialik, Marie Lu coming to Texas Teen Book Festival in October

Mayim Bialik, Marie Lu coming to Texas Teen Book Festival in October

Who is ready to see America’s favorite actress/author/girl nerd or the author of “The Young Elites” and “Legends” series? Mayim Bialik (which parents will remember from “Blossom” and kids know as Sheldon Cooper’s girlfriend in “The Big Bang Theory) will be at the Texas Teen Book Festival Oct. 7 talking about her book &ldquo...
Lightning strikes cost more than $1 million in damage to Leander homes

Lightning strikes cost more than $1 million in damage to Leander homes

Lightning strikes caused more than a $1 million in fire damage to three Leander homes during Monday’s storm, according to the Leander Fire Department. A home in the 3500 block of Goodnight Trail has $600,000 in estimated damage, and damage is estimated at $270,000 for a house in the 2000 block of Lookout Range, the department said in a news release. A home in the 400 block of Monahans Drive...
House gives preliminary OK on stricter abortion reporting requirements

House gives preliminary OK on stricter abortion reporting requirements

In its first day of bill voting on supplemental items on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda, the House on Thursday gave preliminary approval, 97-46, on a bill that would require stricter reporting of abortion complications. House Bill 13 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, would require abortion providers and health care facilities to report within three business days to the Texas...
Mobile Loaves & Fishes homes to get $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance

Mobile Loaves & Fishes homes to get $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance

An affordable housing development operated by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes will receive a $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance, the groups announced Thursday. The money is the largest gift ever from Downtown Alliance and the largest for Mobile Loaves & Fishes in Austin, which serves the area’s homeless population. The groups said the $2 million will be put toward ...
Austin no longer holds No. 1 spot on list of America’s best cities to live in

Austin no longer holds No. 1 spot on list of America’s best cities to live in

Pack up. You’re no longer living in the No. 1 best place to live in America.  Or the No. 2 best place. Yeah, not the No. 3 either.  According to WalletHub’s new list, which considered factors like affordability, economy, safety, quality of life, education and health, Austin is only the sixth best place to live in America.  The same list, which looks at the 62 biggest cities...
Austin police seek help in finding robber targeting store pharmacies

Austin police seek help in finding robber targeting store pharmacies

Austin police are asking the public’s help in finding an armed man suspected of robbing several businesses across the city. In each of the crimes, the robber approaches the pharmacy at the store and demands various controlled drugs, police said Thursday. The robberies have occurred at:  Randalls, 5311 Balcones, on July 3 at 8:44 p.m. CVS, 3569 Far West Blvd., on July 3 at 9:02 p.m. Walgreens...
Austin family reunited with stolen puppy after TV news crew spots suspected thief

Austin family reunited with stolen puppy after TV news crew spots suspected thief

A South Austin family said police and a TV news crew helped return their Labrador puppy to them Wednesday after their dog was stolen from out of their yard Tuesday night. “This was a community effort with the police, social media, news crews, pedestrians etc.,” Karl Kupecz wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday about the effort to get his dog, Bear, back. “I can't begin to express how...
House panel OKs teacher pay raise, retiree health bills

House panel OKs teacher pay raise, retiree health bills

The Texas House Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved two bills that would use the state’s rainy day fund to give current teachers a $1,000 pay raise as well as cut health insurance costs for retired teachers. House Bill 24, filed by Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, which would raise minimum salaries for teachers, librarians and counselors in statute as well as give them a...
Find the fun for the family in Austin this hot weekend, July 28-30

Find the fun for the family in Austin this hot weekend, July 28-30

If the words to “Hot Child in the City” are in appropriately running through your head, don’t worry; there’s a reason for it. It’s going to be 100+ all weekend. Grab some shade, find some indoor events or go early in the day. Bring  sunscreen, water and  bug spray with you if you are headed outside, and enjoy these family...
HYDRATE, HYDRATE: Scorching, near-record heat Thursday, Friday; weekend rain possible 

HYDRATE, HYDRATE: Scorching, near-record heat Thursday, Friday; weekend rain possible 

Thursday’s forecast for Austin: High temperatures will smash past the century mark on thermometers through the rest of the week as the mercury soars under the unrelenting Texas sun, potentially setting records in the process. The National Weather Service says Austin will hit 103 degrees on Thursday, just two degrees shy of the record set back in 2009. Friday’s projected high of 104...
West Lake Hills considers tax rate increase

West Lake Hills considers tax rate increase

The West Lake Hills City Council is proposing a property tax rate increase to 6.5 cents per $100 of property valuation, up from 5.72 cents. The suggested increase represents an amount just below the “rollback” tax rate, or the rate increase at which residents could petition for an election on the tax rate. Mayor Linda Anthony said the proposal was not set in stone – the council has...
EAST AUSTIN: Man in his 40s shot, critically injured, EMS says 

EAST AUSTIN: Man in his 40s shot, critically injured, EMS says 

7 a.m. update: Few new details were available Thursday morning about the East Austin shooting that left one man critically injured Wednesday night, the second in a pair of overnight shootings in Austin. The shooting erupted shortly after 9:30 p.m. at a convenience store on the 2200 block of East Cesar Chavez Street, between Chicon Street and Pleasant Valley Road.  Paramedics rushed the victim...
All Ford police SUVs likely to be taken off street, city officials say

All Ford police SUVs likely to be taken off street, city officials say

City officials have said it is likely inevitable that the Austin Police Department will have to take its entire fleet of 400 Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles off the streets amid concerns of carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger compartments. Officials said the move, which is considered a drastic step for the Police Department, could come as early as Friday. City workers are moving...
Senate clears most Abbott priorities, shifting attention to House

Senate clears most Abbott priorities, shifting attention to House

After deliberating until almost 2 a.m. Wednesday, then returning to work eight hours later, the Texas Senate cleared most of its calendar, sending 18 bills to the House that are favored by Gov. Greg Abbott, including legislation on transgender bathroom use, abortion regulations and limits on the authority of cities. Events may have moved slower than expected, requiring 16 hours of nonstop...
NEW DETAILS: Man targeted in North Austin shooting last night, police say

NEW DETAILS: Man targeted in North Austin shooting last night, police say

9 a.m. update: Austin Police identified the man killed in North Austin on Wednesday evening as Majid Hemmasi and said the shooter appeared to have deliberately targeted the shop-keeper, hitting him multiple times.  Officials also said the woman critically injured in the attack is expected to survive, but declined to identify her citing concerns for her safety.  Neighbors told...
Senate clears most Abbott priorities, shifting attention to House

Senate clears most Abbott priorities, shifting attention to House

After deliberating until almost 2 a.m. Wednesday, then returning to work eight hours later, the Texas Senate cleared most of its calendar, sending to the House 18 bills favored by Gov. Greg Abbott, including legislation on transgender bathroom use, abortion regulations and limits on the authority of cities. Events may have moved slower than expected, requiring a 17-hour slog Tuesday into Wednesday...

Man accused of masturbating in Travis County courtroom

AUSTIN Man accused of masturbating in courtroom A drunken driving defendant is accused of masturbating in a Travis County state district courtroom last week, according to a sheriff’s office spokesman. Deputy Carlos Rodriguez, the bailiff in Judge Julie Kocurek’s court, reported seeing Andres Villarreal-Saguero place his hand down his pants and masturbate on July 20 as Villarreal-Saguero...
DACA, immigrant rights supporters arrested after sit-in blocks traffic

DACA, immigrant rights supporters arrested after sit-in blocks traffic

A sweltering Wednesday morning that nearly reached 100 degrees and asphalt so hot that could’ve probably cooked food didn’t keep more than a dozen people from sitting in the middle of a busy intersection and blocking traffic near the state Capitol as part of a pro-immigrant rights protest. The 15 people who staged the sit-in — including four unauthorized immigrants who are recipients...
House panel mulls special session abortion items

House panel mulls special session abortion items

Heeding Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session call to address abortions, the Texas House State Affairs Committee considered on Wednesday three bills that would require more reporting of such procedures as well as further restricting funding for abortions. Similar bills have moved swiftly through the Senate. House Bill 14 by Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, would prohibit local governmental...
US Attorney General threatens to cut some grants to ‘sanctuary cities’

US Attorney General threatens to cut some grants to ‘sanctuary cities’

The Department of Justice is imposing new conditions to ensure some federal grant money does not make it into the hands of so-called sanctuary cities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that anyone wishing to apply for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Programs must comply with two new conditions — allow federal immigration agents access to detention facilities, and...
Bill to ban tree ordinances passes Texas Senate

Bill to ban tree ordinances passes Texas Senate

When Texans buy property, they buy the trees that come on it, and have the right to do whatever they please with them, the Texas Senate said Wednesday in a 17-14 vote on a bill to ban local tree ordinances. If passed by the Texas House and signed, Senate Bill 14 would overturn ordinances in Austin and at least 90 other Texas cities and counties that provide varying protections to trees. The measure...
JUST IN: Feds hold 13 as material witnesses against driver charged in immigrant truck deaths

JUST IN: Feds hold 13 as material witnesses against driver charged in immigrant truck deaths

Federal authorities say 13 people have been formally charged as material witnesses in the case against a truck driver whose tractor-trailer was found in San Antonio on Sunday to be crammed with dozens of undocumented immigrants. Eight immigrants were found dead in James Matthew Bradley’s cargo hold and two more died after being taken to a hospital in what authorities say is the deadliest...
Texas maternal mortality bills marked by key difference

Texas maternal mortality bills marked by key difference

Extending the work of a task force studying pregnancy-related deaths is one of the few issues on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda that inspires bipartisan support. However, the Texas House and Senate are taking somewhat different approaches to what the task force should be prioritizing in its work. Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, said Wednesday that a bill she authored to extend the...
Authorities: Texas mosquito infected Rio Grande Valley man with Zika

Authorities: Texas mosquito infected Rio Grande Valley man with Zika

A Hidalgo County man who was diagnosed with Zika probably caught it while in Texas — as opposed to catching it somewhere else and returning with it, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday. The Rio Grande Valley case is the first infection this year that appears to have been transmitted by a Texas mosquito, health department officials. If the diagnosis is correct, it...
NORTH AUSTIN: 3 credit card skimmers found at gas pump

NORTH AUSTIN: 3 credit card skimmers found at gas pump

A Texas Department of Agriculture inspector found three credit card skimmers at a fuel pump in North Austin on Wednesday. The department said the devices, which record credit card information from people who use them, were found after authorities received a complaint about skimmers at a 7-Eleven at 9061 Research Blvd. on Wednesday. Austin police and a service company were called out to remove the...
Appeals court takes up case of Austin man convicted of wife’s murder

Appeals court takes up case of Austin man convicted of wife’s murder

The highest appeals court in Texas will review the 2015 murder conviction of a South Austin man convicted of killing his estranged wife and fabricating text messages to make it look like she ran off with another man. Attorneys for George De La Cruz filed a petition in May saying prosecutors failed to show how Julie Ann Gonzalez died when she went missing in 2010 — or that she had died at all...
2 years after demolition, Jumpolin piñata store returns to East Austin

2 years after demolition, Jumpolin piñata store returns to East Austin

Jumpolin, the piñata store whose demolition two years ago sparked protests and debate about gentrification’s effects on East Austin neighborhoods, officially reopened Tuesday at a new location, one mile east from where the old one once stood. The store, which is now at 2605 E. Cesar Chavez St., will have a grand opening ceremony on Aug. 19, but the location is serving customers now, said...

BUSINESS DIGEST: Austin’s Alchemy Systems acquires Montana company

ACQUISITIONS Alchemy Systems acquires Montana company Austin-based Alchemy Systems, a company that focuses on providing training for the food and retail sectors, said Wednesday that it has acquired Wisetail, a Montana firm. A purchase price was not disclosed. Wisetail, Alchemy said, “has gained wide acclaim for providing restaurants, retailers and franchises a modern employee learning and engagement...
Texas Senate approves bill aimed to speed up building permits

Texas Senate approves bill aimed to speed up building permits

A bill in the Texas Legislature that would create hard deadlines for local governments to rule on building permits cleared the Texas Senate floor on Wednesday as part of the chamber’s march toward Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s vow to go “20 for 20” in the ongoing special session. At about 3:40 p.m., the Senate passed the bill 18-13 on second reading. Most questions surrounding Senate...
Texas Senate gives final approval to curbs on city annexations

Texas Senate gives final approval to curbs on city annexations

The Texas Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would require cities to get residents’ approval in areas targeted for annexation. After an hour-long debate earlier in the day, senators voted 19-12 to advance Senate Bill 6 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, with Kel Seliger of Amarillo the only Republican to cross party lines. SB 6 would require cities in counties with...

Austin’s Alchemy Systems acquires Montana-based firm

Austin-based Alchemy Systems, a company that focuses on providing training for the food and retail sectors, said Wednesday that it has acquired Wisetail, a Montana firm. A purchase price was not disclosed. Wisetail, Alchemy said, “has gained wide acclaim for providing restaurants, retailers and franchises a modern employee learning and engagement platform so that they can deliver a consistent...
Mayor Adler: Transgender and kicked out of military? Join Austin police force

Mayor Adler: Transgender and kicked out of military? Join Austin police force

In light of President Donald Trump’s Wednesday announcement that transgender Americans will be banned from serving in the military, Austin’s mayor had a message: Kicked out? Come to Austin. In the first of a series of three tweets, Mayor Steve Adler said, “If you’re qualified to keep our country safe you’re qualified to keep Austin safe. Transgender...
Construction delay leaves St. Edward’s scrambling for student housing

Construction delay leaves St. Edward’s scrambling for student housing

St. Edward’s University is scrambling to find housing for about 400 students after announcing that a new campus apartment complex will not open in time for the fall term. The $33 million Pavilions complex, being built to satisfy student demand for on-campus living, was scheduled to open before fall classes start Aug. 28. But a shortage of construction labor and other issues, including weather...
Austin gets nonstop flights to skiing hot spot

Austin gets nonstop flights to skiing hot spot

Add another city to the list of non-stop destinations you can visit via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Discount carrier ViaAir said Wednesday that it will begin service from Austin to Hayden/Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on Dec. 13. Tickets are already for sale at flyviaair.com. The seasonal service will operate out of the Austin airport’s new south terminal...
Key House Republican calls bathroom bills a distraction

Key House Republican calls bathroom bills a distraction

A key House Republican has written an online column that describes the transgender bathroom debate as a distraction built, in part, on “duplicitous grandstanding” by politicians. The posting on the Texas GOP Vote website is significant because Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, is chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, which will handle legislation pertaining to transgender bathroom...
Clock ticking for Travis, Williamson drivers to get car repair funds

Clock ticking for Travis, Williamson drivers to get car repair funds

Each time Realtor Julie Galarraga would step on the gas in her late ’90s Nissan sedan, the car would spew black plumes that she could see dissipating in her rearview mirror. So, when Galarraga learned that Travis County would give her $3,000 toward replacing it for a newer, cleaner car, a $17,000 Nissan Rogue SUV, she said she was ecstatic. “I thought that it was awesome,” Galarraga...
Senate approves bill banning local phoning-while-driving laws

Senate approves bill banning local phoning-while-driving laws

Local laws on cell phone use behind the wheel, including Austin’s, would become moot under a bill approved Wednesday by the Texas Senate. If Senate Bill 15 were to become law — and its fate in the House is far from clear — then talking on a hand-held phone behind the wheel would once again be legal in Austin and in about 40 other Texas cities that have local laws banning almost all...
Senate gives initial OK to voter fraud bill

Senate gives initial OK to voter fraud bill

The Texas Senate tentatively passed a bill Wednesday that would set up safeguards to prevent mail-in ballot fraud in Texas and increase penalties for people who try to steal votes. The bill requires one more vote before it’s sent to the House. Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, would require a signature verification process for early ballots, notification of rejected...
FIRE UPDATE: Brush fire off FM 969 near Decker Lane under control, officials say

FIRE UPDATE: Brush fire off FM 969 near Decker Lane under control, officials say

3:15 p.m. update: A brush fire in eastern Travis County off FM 969 near Decker Lane is now under control, Austin Fire Department officials said Wednesday. The fire burned nearly 4 acres, “directly threatening 10 structures,” officials said. According to officials, two homes escaped damage “due to quick action” by firefighters. Earlier: Firefighters are battling a brush fire...
House panel mulls abortion bills on Wednesday

House panel mulls abortion bills on Wednesday

Heeding Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda to address abortions, the House State Affairs Committee considered on Wednesday three bills that would require more reporting of such procedures as well as further restricting funding for them. Similar bills have tentatively passed the Senate over the last few days. House Bill 14 by Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, would prohibit local governmental...
JUST IN: Man accused of stealing liquor from downtown Austin bar found at bus stop with bottles

JUST IN: Man accused of stealing liquor from downtown Austin bar found at bus stop with bottles

A man accused of breaking into a downtown Austin bar last month and making off with $2,000 in booze was found a few days later snoozing on bus stop bench blocks away with some of the liquor by his side, police allege in court papers filed Wednesday.  Austin police arrested Everett Turner, 34, on the morning of June 24, just two days after the BaseCamp bar downtown was broken into.  Turner...
Texas Senate advances ban on abortion insurance plans

Texas Senate advances ban on abortion insurance plans

The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved Senate Bill 8, which would ban general insurance plans from covering abortions for private citizens, government employees and those who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The bill would require women to purchase separate abortion coverage through a supplemental plan, said the bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe. “I believe...
5 things to know about the African dust over Texas

5 things to know about the African dust over Texas

Houstonians have been looking up at a sky made hazy by dust blown from the Sahara Desert in North Africa. Some of that dust fuzzed up the Austin sky this week, so here are five things to know about it: 1. It’s not all that unusual. African dust clouds reach Texas a couple of times each summer. 2. Dust has been high in the air above Central Texas since Monday, though not enough to see, National...

Community news: ACC offering weekend-only degree programs

TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE Weekend degree option launched Austin Community College announced that it will expand learning opportunities with new weekend college degree and workforce certificate programs this fall at the Highland, Riverside and Round Rock campuses. The programs provide students the option to complete an associate degree in general studies or specialized workforce certificates...
What readers are saying: Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military

What readers are saying: Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military

In a series of tweets Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military “in any capacity.”  The Department of Defense currently allows transgender people to serve openly and bars them from being discharged solely for their gender identity. There are an estimated 15,500 transgender people serving in the...
Here’s where to get some of the best views of the total solar eclipse in Texas

Here’s where to get some of the best views of the total solar eclipse in Texas

The August 21 total solar eclipse is nearing and unfortunately for Texans, no spot within our borders will get to see the whole thing. But if you feel up for traveling, an in-state road trip can lead to a more dramatic view of the eclipse.  Vox published a handy interactive this week which lets anyone punch in a ZIP code and receive eclipse information. According to the interactive, Austin&rsquo...
TEXAS IMPACT: Sessions threatens to cut grant for ‘sanctuary cities’

TEXAS IMPACT: Sessions threatens to cut grant for ‘sanctuary cities’

American cities must cooperate completely with federal immigration officials to be eligible for a criminal justice grant that has brought $390 million to Texas, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced. It’s unclear if this will impact Texas’ sanctuary cities — the compliance of both Austin and Travis County has been questioned by state officials — or whether the new requirements...
UPDATE: DACA recipients detained during pro-immigrant rights sit-in released from Travis County Jail

UPDATE: DACA recipients detained during pro-immigrant rights sit-in released from Travis County Jail

10:30 p.m. update: The four DACA recipients who were part of a group that was arrested for staging a sit-in in the middle of a street intersection near the state Capitol Wednesday morning have been released from Travis County Jail. The four are unauthorized immigrants who applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation protection and work permits to qualifying...
JUST IN: Rainstorms rolling through Austin

JUST IN: Rainstorms rolling through Austin

7:40 p.m. update: Rainstorms are currently moving northwest through Austin. Track the storm on the American-Statesman’s weather radar. Wednesday’s forecast for Austin: The abnormal heat will continue through the rest of the week, with highs staying at or above 100 degrees until at least Sunday with the humidity continuing to make it feel even warmer, the National Weather Service says...
OVERNIGHT: Senate approves ban on tax money for abortion providers

OVERNIGHT: Senate approves ban on tax money for abortion providers

Voting at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday, the Texas Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would bar state and local governments from providing money to abortion providers or their affiliates. The Republican author of Senate Bill 4, Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, said the legislation was demanded by Texans who do not want their tax money helping the bottom line of organizations that provide abortions...
In late votes, transgender bathroom bill, 10 others sent to House

In late votes, transgender bathroom bill, 10 others sent to House

In a flurry of votes that extended beyond midnight, the Texas Senate gave final approval to almost a dozen bills early Wednesday, including legislation cracking down on transgender-friendly bathroom policies. Most of the bills, which received initial Senate approval Monday and Tuesday, were sent to the House with little or no debate in about a half-hour of action. One exception was Senate Bill 3,...
Senate OKs limits on union payroll deductions

Senate OKs limits on union payroll deductions

The Texas Senate late Tuesday voted largely along party lines to ban payroll deductions for union dues for many state and local government employees. Senate Bill 7 — given initial approval on a 19-12 vote at 11:33 p.m. after almost 2½ hours of debate — would exempt unions serving police, firefighters and emergency medical workers, instead applying to government employees that include...
Backyard at Bee Cave Phase 1 delayed by lack of connection to Texas 71

Backyard at Bee Cave Phase 1 delayed by lack of connection to Texas 71

The planned Backyard at Bee Cave development, with its music venue, office space, hotel and data centers located off of Bee Cave Parkway, is held up by a single obstacle: access to Texas 71, which the City Council has previously stated is mandatory in order for the developer Chris Milam and his team to receive a Certificate of Occupancy. During the July 25 City Council meeting, a motion to pass the...
‘No Jab, No Play’: How Australia is handling the vaccination debate

‘No Jab, No Play’: How Australia is handling the vaccination debate

This much is clear: Australia’s strict vaccination laws are working — and they’re set to become even stricter. The state of South Australia has introduced legislation that would ban the enrollment of unvaccinated children in preschool and child care centers. The proposal would set fines of up to 30,000 Australian dollars — about $24,000 in the U.S. — on centers that admit...
Senate approves teacher bonus, retiree health bill

Senate approves teacher bonus, retiree health bill

5:35 p.m. Wednesday update: The Texas Senate has passed SB 19. Earlier: The Texas Senate has tentatively approved a bill on a 28-3 vote that would give many Texas teachers a bonus and reduce health care costs for retired teachers. Sens. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston; José Rodríguez, D-El Paso; and Van Taylor, R-Plano, voted against Senate Bill 19. Before sending SB 19 to a vote Tuesday night...
2 years after old location was demolished, Jumpolin opens new piñata store in East Austin 

2 years after old location was demolished, Jumpolin opens new piñata store in East Austin 

Jumpolin, the East Austin piñata store that was demolished two years ago, officially reopened Tuesday at a new location, one mile east from where the old one once stood. The store’s official grand opening will be held Aug. 19, said owner Sergio Lejarazu. Lejarazu and his wife opened Jumpolin at the 1401 E. Cesar Chavez St. location in early 2000s. In February 2015...
Slain Austin police officer featured in documentary film on cop deaths

Slain Austin police officer featured in documentary film on cop deaths

A little more than five years ago, an Austin police officer arrived at a Wal-Mart in North Austin, responding to a call about a suspicious, intoxicated man wandering around the aisles. The officer, a 40-year-old retired Marine named Jaime Padron, and a store employee approached the man, Brandon Daniel, near the front entrance of the store at Interstate 35 and Parmer Lane. Padron grabbed Daniel&rsquo...

Dozens of people tell House committee to scrap tree bill

Dozens of people told the Texas House Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday to let their own communities set local tree and land use regulations. The panel heard testimony for more than five hours on three bills. House Bill 77 by Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, would require cities to allow builders to pay a fee instead of dedicating parkland “as a condition of approval for the development of real...
House considers tapping rainy day fund for teacher pay, retiree bills

House considers tapping rainy day fund for teacher pay, retiree bills

Taking a vastly different approach than the Texas Senate, the House on Tuesday revealed that it wants to give teachers a $1,000 annual pay raise and relieve rising teacher retiree health care costs by tapping the rainy day fund. The method of financing a plan to boost teacher pay and cut teacher retiree health costs, which is on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda for the Legislature,...
Texas Senate gives initial approval to transgender bathroom bill

Texas Senate gives initial approval to transgender bathroom bill

After more than eight hours of debate and a series of late-adopted changes, a sharply divided Texas Senate gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill cracking down on transgender-friendly bathroom policies and barring transgender athletes from competing in school sports based on their gender identity. Senate Bill 3, approved 21-10, would prohibit public schools and local governments from adopting policies...

From salad to soup - how to best use leftovers

Cookbook author Raquel Pelzel and columnist Cathy Barrow recently joined The Washington Post Food staff recently answered questions about all things edible. The following are edited excerpts. Recipes whose names are capitalized can be found in the Recipe Finder at washingtonpost.com/recipes. Q: I made a massive salad of corn and bell peppers (using red, orange, and yellow - so pretty!) for lunches...

Family travel: 5 places for biking with your crew

More families are choosing to see the sights from the seat of a bike. Here are five places where your crew can merrily roll along.  1. Bar Harbor, Maine. Explore 45 miles of Maine’s Acadia National Park via the rustic carriage roads made possible by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. The historic, 16-foot-wide pathways were originally designed to enable the Rockefeller family to navigate...
Chickpea tikka masala: It's not traditional, but it sure tastes great

Chickpea tikka masala: It's not traditional, but it sure tastes great

I once confessed that, as a lover of wordplay, I am drawn to every recipe I see whose name substitutes "chickpeas" for "chicken." When I recently ran into Chickpea Tikka Masala, I had to try it, even though I knew the "tikka" part of the name doesn't quite translate. (It means "pieces," and refers to the chunks of chicken in the original dish.) It's a loose...
Police: Minnesota man arrested for threatening Social Security employees

Police: Minnesota man arrested for threatening Social Security employees

A Minnesota man was arrested Wednesday after threatening employees at a Social Security office, KAAL reported. >> Read more trending news According to Capt. John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department, Leonard Booth, 26, walked into the Social Security office at 10:15 a.m. and complained that he was unable to receive benefits. Booth began “acting erratically” and threatened...

Round Rock Express drop third straight game by a single run

Andrew Suarez struck out nine hitters over seven innings, leading the Sacramento River Cats over the Round Rock Express in a 2-1 win on Thursday. It was the third straight loss for the Express by a single run. Suarez (4-4) picked up the win after he walked two while allowing one run and four hits. Round Rock (46-59) started the scoring in the first inning. After reaching base on a walk, Jurickson...
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