Texas News & Politics


How the federal government seized Texas property for the border fence

The land agents started working the border between Texas and Mexico in the spring of 2007. Sometimes they were from the Army Corps of Engineers. Other times the U.S. Border Patrol. They visited tumbledown mobile homes and suburban houses with golf course views. They delivered blunt news to ranchers and farmers, sheet metal workers and university professors, auto mechanics and wealthy developers: The...
Lack of transparency clouds spending decisions after Harvey

Lack of transparency clouds spending decisions after Harvey

Texas has been awarded billions of dollars in federal aid to help recover from Hurricane Harvey and the devastating flooding that followed, but it’s unclear how the state is spending its share of the money. State records don’t indicate which contracts are storm-related, making fund tracking — and spending accountability — nearly impossible. Disaster recovery experts say a lack...
PolitiFact: Promise to change immigrant tuition law goes broken

PolitiFact: Promise to change immigrant tuition law goes broken

Greg Abbott ran for Texas governor signaling he’d go along with disconnecting a political tripwire for Republicans that benefits college students from Texas living in the United States without legal permission. We decided to put Abbott’s statements about in-state tuition for such Texans to the PolitiFact Texas Abbott-O-Meter, which tracks action on his campaign vows. We’ve been writing...
Texas GOP files suit to remove Blake Farenthold from ballot

Texas GOP files suit to remove Blake Farenthold from ballot

The Republican Party of Texas is suing the Texas secretary of state over an election filing deadline that prevents it from removing embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold from the ballot. The move is in response to Farenthold’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in the spring. Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, made the decision after a House...
PolitiFact: College credit promise becomes a compromise

PolitiFact: College credit promise becomes a compromise

When he was running for Texas governor, Greg Abbott spelled out a pile of proposals including his vow to make it easier for students starting in a community college to transfer course credits toward a degree at a four-year college. Specifically, Abbott called for requiring Texas public colleges and universities to give transfer students credit for taking freshman- and sophomore-level core courses...
Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

The demographic trends in Texas are clear: The combination of a youthful Latino population and an aging white population has led to Latino dominance in the state’s population growth. Between 2006 and 2016, the Latino population grew six times more rapidly than the white population. Of the nearly 4.4 million persons added to the Texas population during this period, 57 percent are Latino, while...
Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Yes, we all know that Austin is the righteous and rightful center of the universe and there’s not much reason to care about what goes on in the lesser world around us. But I think it’s healthy to periodically glance outward beyond the Superiorplex and see what’s going on elsewhere in Texas, especially when the goings-on going on in other towns rival our town’s weirdness. So...
Texas cancels no-bid contract for special education analysis

Texas cancels no-bid contract for special education analysis

The Texas Education Agency has canceled its contract with a technology company charged with analyzing special education programs. The TEA had contracted with SPEDx, a Georgia-based company, to look for trends and patterns in special education records. But the $4.4 million project incurred the ire of advocacy groups and parents, who said they worried about privacy and the fact that it was a no-bid...
Trump inauguration riot trial goes to the jury

Trump inauguration riot trial goes to the jury

The first trial of nearly 200 Inauguration Day protesters charged with rioting, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property went to a jury Friday afternoon, a month after it began. Freelance photojournalist Alexei Wood of San Antonio and five other defendants could receive more than 50 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. The judge dropped one felony count of inciting...
Texas CHIP money good through February; Cornyn promises long-term fix

Texas CHIP money good through February; Cornyn promises long-term fix

The Children’s Health Insurance Program in Texas will be funded one month longer than expected, according to a recalculation by the federal government. The program, which insures more than 400,000 low-income children and pregnant women in the state, will be funded through February. Originally, the Texas Health and Human Services had reported that funding was good only through January after Congress...
Commentary: Why Jerusalem policy makes art of the deal hard for Trump

Commentary: Why Jerusalem policy makes art of the deal hard for Trump

Fifty years ago, former U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem, Evan Wilson, penned a memoire entitled “Jerusalem: Key to Peace,” in which he argued the multifaceted reasons why that city’s status will ultimately determine whether a Palestinian-Israeli peace is attainable. The closest the U.S. ever came to achieving peace — the Barak-Arafat negotiations in the twilight of President...
Commentary: For the sake of Dreamers, don’t fall for the ‘Cornyn con’

Commentary: For the sake of Dreamers, don’t fall for the ‘Cornyn con’

Over the next two weeks, immigrant youth from across the country will double down on their efforts to call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act before the end of the year. In Texas, young immigrants have been marching and making calls, demanding that our state’s delegation do the right thing and support the more than 120,000 so-called Dreamers who claim the Lone Star State as their home. The fight...
Commentary: Failure to fund research is a failure to support Texas

Commentary: Failure to fund research is a failure to support Texas

Congress recently passed another fractious short-term measure to avert a government shutdown. This piecemeal approach to federal spending is not good for our local Texas economy, nor is it a viable solution for the entire nation. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is in a position to set things right. A long-term deal is needed to reduce constraints impacting basic research funding under the Budget Control Act...
Commentary: Why congressional tax plans would crush scholarship funds

Commentary: Why congressional tax plans would crush scholarship funds

Today, U.S. government leaders have enormous decisions to make about tax reform. Their choices will affect the future of our students and our universities. If the proposed policies are put in place, the ability of Texas students — both now and in the future — to earn life-changing degrees will be compromised. We are the presidents of two universities in Texas — one public, one private...
Commentary: End Texas’ long history of abusing juveniles in detention

Commentary: End Texas’ long history of abusing juveniles in detention

Ten years ago, I published a commentary in this newspaper on the physical and sexual abuse of youth in Texas’ juvenile correctional facilities. Noting that adult officials had participated in or sanctioned the abuse of youth placed in their care, I warned that the state had traveled this path several times before. Today’s reports sadly echo the lurid inventory of abuses that has characterized...
Senate panel begins discussion about sexual harassment policy

Senate panel begins discussion about sexual harassment policy

The Texas Senate could meet in the coming months to establish a new sexual harassment policy. Amid reports of sexual misconduct by staffers and lawmakers at the Capitol, members of the Senate Administration Committee met Thursday to discuss possible changes to the policy. Committee Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said she plans to make recommendations to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Secretary of...
‘Pathetic’: Texas AG aide resigns after criticizing ‘#MeToo’ movement

‘Pathetic’: Texas AG aide resigns after criticizing ‘#MeToo’ movement

A top official in the Texas attorney general’s office resigned Thursday after criticizing the “#MeToo” movement in a Facebook post. “Aren’t you also tired of all the pathetic ‘me too’ victim claims?” then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie said in a Facebook post Wednesday, according to The Dallas Morning News, which first reported...
James Ho, former Texas solicitor general, OK’d for U.S. appeals court

James Ho, former Texas solicitor general, OK’d for U.S. appeals court

James Ho, a Dallas lawyer and former Texas solicitor general, was confirmed 53-43 Thursday by the U.S. Senate for a position on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting for Ho’s appointment. The Senate on Wednesday approved along party lines Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to be a judge on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court.
Students in 47 counties will get STAAR reprieve because of Harvey

Students in 47 counties will get STAAR reprieve because of Harvey

Public school students in 47 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey won’t be held back a grade if they fail state standardized tests this school year. Typically, students in the fifth and eighth grades must pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. Mike Morath, head of the Texas Education Agency, told school districts on Thursday that students in...
‘PATHETIC’: AG aide resigns after criticizing ‘#MeToo’ movement

‘PATHETIC’: AG aide resigns after criticizing ‘#MeToo’ movement

An aide in the attorney general’s office resigned Thursday after criticizing the “#MeToo” movement in a Facebook post. “Aren’t you also tired of all the pathetic ‘me too’ victim claims?” the now-former Associate Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie said in a Facebook post Wednesday, according to The Dallas Morning News, which first reported it. &ldquo...

TEXAS DIGEST: University of Houston fraternity indicted in hazing

HOUSTON University of Houston fraternity indicted in hazing A Harris County grand jury has indicted the parent company of a University of Houston fraternity on a misdemeanor hazing charge for depriving pledges of adequate food, water and sleep during a three-day November 2016 event where one student was body slammed and sustained a lacerated spleen. The university already has suspended the fraternity...
Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

A bit late, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, told us Thursday he didn’t know how to run a congressional office when he won the job in 2010. It’s kind of too bad he didn’t tell us that back then or during his latter three successful races for the office. The overdue admission came as he announced he’s changed his mind and will not seek a fifth term. Good call, Farenthold...
University of Houston to lead new hurricane research center

University of Houston to lead new hurricane research center

As part of a multistate effort to respond to damages wrought this year by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the University of Houston will lead a new Gulf Coast hurricane research institute. The Houston Chronicle reports that the institute will examine flood mitigation, hurricane modeling and public policy. Seven universities in Texas, Florida and Louisiana will contribute a combined $1.87 million...
Blake Farenthold won’t seek re-election amid sexual harassment claims

Blake Farenthold won’t seek re-election amid sexual harassment claims

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold said Thursday he won’t seek re-election, a week after a House committee opened an investigation into sexual harassment claims by a former aide and days after fresh allegations of lewd comments to another former aide. Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, made the announcement Thursday morning in a video statement...
Here’s why the Drag is looking a little more colorful...

Here’s why the Drag is looking a little more colorful...

One of the University of Texas at Austin’s busiest crosswalks is looking a little more colorful as of Wednesday. Capital Metro tweeted early Wednesday morning that Guadalupe Street in front of the University Co-Op would be repainted. What they did not mention is that it wouldn’t be painted white... According to American-Statesman photographer Ralph Barrera, UT Design graduate student...
Woman jailed after subjecting son to 323 hospital visits, 13 major surgeries 

Woman jailed after subjecting son to 323 hospital visits, 13 major surgeries 

A Texas woman is jailed on charges related to allegations that she subjected her young son to more than a dozen unnecessary surgeries and hundreds of unneeded hospital visits. Kaylene Bowen-Wright, 34, is in the Dallas County Jail on a charges of  injury to a child with serious bodily injury, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. Bowen-Wright is accused of subjecting her 8-year-old...
I-35 toll lanes in Austin cut from long-range transportation plan

I-35 toll lanes in Austin cut from long-range transportation plan

State transportation officials, reacting to anti-toll pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, voted Thursday to remove all new tollway projects from a key 10-year construction plan — including what would have been the addition of two toll lanes to each side of Interstate 35 through Central Texas. That 5-0 vote came despite the pleas of nearly a dozen Central Texas political...
One Texan confirmed to federal judicial post, but another booted

One Texan confirmed to federal judicial post, but another booted

It was a split decision Wednesday for federal judge nominees from Texas. The U.S. Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to be a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the White House pulled back from supporting Jeff Mateer, a top official in the Texas attorney general’s office who had called transgender children evidence of “Satan’s plan,” for...
Sid Miller calls for Travis GOP chairman to resign over campaign work

Sid Miller calls for Travis GOP chairman to resign over campaign work

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak to resign his post after joining the campaign of Miller’s primary opponent Trey Blocker as a communications consultant. “How in the world can the Travis County Republican Party guarantee an impartial election process, when the person in charge of the election is working for one of the candidates?&rdquo...
Gov. Abbott: Rangers to investigate sex abuse reports in youth lockup

Gov. Abbott: Rangers to investigate sex abuse reports in youth lockup

Gov. Greg Abbott called Wednesday for the Texas Department of Public Safety to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by employees of the state’s juvenile justice system. A November Dallas Morning News story revealed allegations of misconduct reminiscent of a 2007 sex scandal, which led to an overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system. Then, at least 13 boys were said to have...
Mesquite police watched as handcuffed teen hit his head 50 times before dying

Mesquite police watched as handcuffed teen hit his head 50 times before dying

When Mesquite police arrived at a local middle school late on a summer night in 2013, Graham Dyer was pounding his head on the ground. Earlier, witnesses reported seeing him ram his head into a building. A friend explained that the 18-year-old was experiencing a bad LSD trip. Police have a legal duty to care for their prisoners, and after Dyer was handcuffed, two medics were called to the scene. But...
TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

Should you and I, as residents of Austin, have a say on CodeNext, the first major rewrite of Austin’s land development code in 30 years? Yes. Should you and I, as registered voters of Austin, get to vote on CodeNext, the most important policy question facing our city in at least five years? No. Proponents of a CodeNext referendum claim that it would be more democratic and would lead to a more...
TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

CodeNext may be exhausting, but rewriting our land use laws from 1984 is our opportunity to decide what kind of city we want to be. We’ve all seen friends leave for cities where it’s easier to build a good life for their families, but we’ve never truly reckoned with the fact that our government strongly shapes who gets to live where. We’ve consistently used that power to make...
Sixty-one years ago today, Rockdale's literary star vanished in a Connecticut river

Sixty-one years ago today, Rockdale's literary star vanished in a Connecticut river

On this day in 1956, George Sessions Perry, wracked by depression, hallucinations, acute arthritis and a drinking problem, walked out of his Connecticut home and into a nearby river.  It was months before his body was found, but when it was, Perry’s death was front-page material for The Dallas Morning News. Perry might not be a household name today, but in the 1940s and 50s, he was one...
Video of woman with Texas plates littering in Colorado parking lot sparks debate on social media

Video of woman with Texas plates littering in Colorado parking lot sparks debate on social media

We all know that you don’t mess with Texas. But it seems some of us might have forgotten the moral behind the motto applies outside the state’s borders. A video showing a woman dumping trash from her Texas-plated car in a Colorado parking lot sparked a heated debate on social media, San Antonio’s KSAT reports.  “Just because you are not in Texas anymore does not mean...
Abbott: Testing requirements should be dropped for Harvey-hit schools

Abbott: Testing requirements should be dropped for Harvey-hit schools

Gov. Greg Abbott is putting pressure on the Texas Education Agency to give students in school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey a reprieve from state testing requirements. Students in the fifth and eighth grade must pass the math and reading State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. In a letter on Monday, Abbott asked TEA Commissioner Mike Morath to waive...
Abbott urges TEA to give Harvey-hit schools a reprieve from STAAR

Abbott urges TEA to give Harvey-hit schools a reprieve from STAAR

Gov. Greg Abbott is putting pressure on the Texas Education Agency to give students in school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey a reprieve from state testing requirements. Students in the fifth and eighth grade must pass the math and reading State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. In a letter on Monday, Abbott asked TEA Commissioner Mike Morath to waive...
Trump aide takes over as top federal prosecutor in Austin region

Trump aide takes over as top federal prosecutor in Austin region

A former member of President Donald Trump’s staff has been sworn in as the United States attorney for the Western District of Texas to prosecute federal crimes in the region that includes Austin. John F. Bash, who served as special assistant to Trump and associate White House counsel, took the oath Monday at the federal courthouse in San Antonio. A public swearing-in will take place in the future...
Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

When their workdays end in Austin, Lawrence and Monica Willis make the 20-mile trip home to near Driftwood. They drive South MoPac Boulevard, cross Texas 45 and begin the final lap along FM 1826. “All of a sudden you’re in the country,” says Lawrence, 48. “We live in a corridor to the Hill Country.” Right now, Lawrence and Monica, 45, have unobstructed views of the Hill...
Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Now that we know the fields, let’s look for the fun. Monday was the filing deadline for the March primaries. Seems like we’ve got some potentially interesting/entertaining races. Hurray for us. Let’s see what’s going to be worth keeping an eye on. Atop the list is the possibility that the Democrats could lose their own gubernatorial primary. Let me explain. Ten candidates have...
INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

Historian James Cook, in his 2001 book “The Arts of Deception,” points to July 1835 as “the birth date of modern American popular culture.” That month, a frustrated grocer named Phineus Taylor Barnum purchased Joice Heth, a purported 161-year-old slave who had been George Washington’s nanny. Barnum furiously promoted her as “Absolutely the Greatest Natural and National...
Texts raise questions about Texas special education director’s firing

Texts raise questions about Texas special education director’s firing

Newly released text messages are raising questions about why the Texas Education Agency fired its special education director after less than four months on the job. Laurie Kash was fired in late November, one week after a lawsuit accused her of trying to cover up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl while working at a small school district in Oregon. The TEA said that Kash told them...
The Texas primaries are 3 months away. Here are 5 races to watch.

The Texas primaries are 3 months away. Here are 5 races to watch.

The deadline for candidates to file for the March primaries was Monday. Here are five races to watch: 1. Democratic race for governor: Lupe Valdez, the 13-year Dallas County sheriff, has the backing of the Democratic Party establishment. But she has little statewide name recognition and isn’t the high-profile candidate Democrats were seeking to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott...
PolitiFact: Harvey’s homeless count uncertain (but it’s not 12 million)

PolitiFact: Harvey’s homeless count uncertain (but it’s not 12 million)

A Texas official’s guest editorial, shared on his campaign website, made us wonder about the whopping impact of Hurricane Harvey. Ryan Sitton, a Houston Republican on the Texas Railroad Commission, opened his article on the Drilling Contractor site: “Earlier this year, Hurricane Harvey left more than 12 million people in Texas and Louisiana without homes. The devastation of this storm...
Gov. Abbott posthumously honors World War II, Korean War veteran

Gov. Abbott posthumously honors World War II, Korean War veteran

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday posthumously honored a war hero who perished during the Korean War in 1950 by presenting his survivors with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor. Master Sgt. Travis Watkins was Arkansas-born but Texas-raised. He enlisted in the Army in 1939 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service during World War II. However, his last moments on the battlefield during the Korean...
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