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Texas Legislature Prescribes Funding To Fight ‘Pill Mills’

Five stories that have North Texas talking: State wants to put the lid on pill mills, libraries worry about lack of diversity in children’s books, Mumford fans can start marking days off their countdown calendar (again) and more.

Lawmakers have given the Texas Medical Board enough money to hire five employees to inspect and regulate the pain management clinics that have been dubbed “pill mills.” Up until now, the Medical Board has only been able to investigate complaints. According to KUHF, with the new hires, in-person inspections will become the norm. Pain management clinics primarily dispense prescription drugs, including opioids and barbiturates which can be highly addictive.  “A lot of these pain clinics are criminal operations,” says Leigh Hopper with the Texas Medical Board. “They don’t even resemble a medical office.”

Five counties, including Dallas and Tarrant, are home to more than 60 percent of the state’s clinics. Earlier this year, the certificates of 111 registered pain management clinics had expired, and the Texas Medical Board had no information about whether those clinics continued to operate. The board cites a lack of manpower and funding for the lapse in regulation.

  • Credit American Girl
    "Meet Josefina" is one of the American Girl books that 8 year-old Havana Machado enjoys.
    When Art Doesn’t Imitate Life: As the affirmative action debate swirls through the courts, a lack of diversity in children’s books in getting attention in libraries, bookstores and classrooms across the nation. A new report by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that only 3 percent of children’s stories are by or about Latinos. Nearly a quarter of public school children are Latino and almost half of children under 5 are non-white. NPR spoke to Melinda Machado, who grew up in San Antonio. She says she didn’t read books with Latino characters when she was young, so she makes sure her 8 year-old daughter Havana has a different experience. "I think children today are told, 'You can be anything,’” Machado says. “But if they don't see themselves in the story, I think, as they get older, they're going to question, 'Can I really?'"

  • From The Battlefield To The Halls Of Learning: The Texas Workforce Commission has added six schools to its College Credit for Heroes program. The Dallas and Tarrant community college districts are among them. This program launched in 2011 and is designed to translate veterans’ military experience into actual college credit hours. This latest funding installment of $1.5 million boosts the program’s participation to 10 schools across Texas. You can click here for more information or to register for the program. [KUT]

  • You Must Wait, You Must Wait For Them: North Texas fans of Mumford and Sons will have to bottle their enthusiasm until mid September. The band was forced to cancel a string of shows earlier this month, including a sold-out date in Dallas, when bass player Ted Dwane had a blood clot in the brain that required surgery. But now he's out of the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Mumford and Sons’ new date at the Gexa Energy Pavillion is Sept. 18. [USA Today]
Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.