Jill Ament | KERA News

Jill Ament

From Texas Standard:

According to recent reports by the Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 1 million Texans are projected to lose their health insurance because of the economic recession in the U.S. caused by the coronavirus. That's in addition to the approximately 5 million people – equivalent to about 18% of the state's population– who are already uninsured.

Health Care Is Top Of Mind For Many Voters In 2020

Feb 25, 2020

From Texas Standard:

Just as it was in 2016, health care is an important issue for voters as they prepare to cast ballots in primaries and in November's general election. And health care is an especially relevant topic in Texas, as the state continues to opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and faces rural hospital closures and high maternal mortality rates.

From Texas Standard:

Copper workers in Amarillo have been striking for four months and will likely continue. About 150 union members are protesting ASARCO's plan to freeze pensions and increase health insurance costs.

From Texas Standard:

With six major flooding events and disaster declarations in each of the past five years, Houston is facing a new normal when it comes to risk from a changing environment. Now, the city is looking to create what Mayor Sylvester Turner calls a "resilient city" with a new, 186-page master plan.

From Texas Standard:

With six major flooding events and disaster declarations in each of the past five years, Houston is facing a new normal when it comes to risk from a changing environment. Now, the city is looking to create what Mayor Sylvester Turner calls a "resilient city" with a new, 186-page master plan.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services recently released new internal guidelines that cut the caseloads of foster care workers who have been overwhelmed for years by an unmanageable number of clients. But the department has faced many challenges lately, beyond a struggling workforce.

From Texas Standard:

In the boxing ring he was known as "Big George." But today, most people know George Foreman for his business ventures. Foreman has helped sell millions of George Foreman Grills, which were first introduced in 1994 and are still on the market today.

From Texas Standard:

Like few other Texans in recent years, one former El Paso congressman is known to many by his first name alone. But that extraordinary name recognition, and even an unexpectedly close Senate race against Ted Cruz in 2018, wasn't enough to propel Beto O'Rourke to the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, O'Rourke is focused on getting more Democrats elected in Texas.

From Texas Standard:

Many Texas political watchers would agree that the 2019 legislative session was surprisingly tame. Legislation about divisive social issues – especially about bathroom access for transgender people, which dominated the session in 2017 – seemed to be a thing of the past. But recently, a custody case in Texas involving a 7-year-old child whose mother identifies the child as transgender has divided some along political lines.

Catholic Diocese of Austin

Earlier this week, one of Central Texas' area's most significant landmarks was destroyed in a fire. No one was injured or killed. But when Westphalia's Church of the Visitation burned down, it left a lot of hurt nonetheless.

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

From Texas Standard:

Though he hasn't made an official announcement, Texas Monthly recently reported that Joaquin Castro could soon announce plans to challenge John Cornyn for his Senate seat in 2020. If Castro runs, his own seat in Congress will be open. He represents a district that's been solidly Democratic for years, and now some are speculating about who would run to replace him. 

Gilbert Garcia, metro columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, has been pondering the musical-chairs game of sorts that a Castro Senate bid could set in motion.

Garcia says San Antonio comprises five congressional districts, and that the 20th is the one Democrats covet most.

From Texas Standard:

College has become a prerequisite for most high-paying jobs in the U.S., but college itself is out of reach for millions, and that number is growing. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that in the past 10 years, student loan debt has grown by more than 100 percent. People ages 19 to 29 hold more than $1 trillion in student debt, and that's just the Millennial generation. With a wide-open Democratic primary field, it's almost certain that college affordability will be an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Adam Harris writes in The Atlantic that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have focused their attention on how to make college affordable in the future,  proposing free college tuition or policies that would allow students to leave school without debt.

Harris says that prior to the 2016 election, momentum had been building nationally for some sort of free college program. But once Donald Trump was elected president, that momentum shifted to the states.

From Texas Standard:

As Texas lawmakers begin tackling one of this session's top legislative priorities – school finance reform – a state Senate measure proposes giving public-school teachers a raise. How much money is on the table and what difference would it make for teachers living paycheck to paycheck? It depends on whom you ask and where you live.

From Texas Standard:

Two Texas lawmakers are at the forefront of a renewed battle over President Donald Trump's tax returns.

From Texas Standard:

Ever since two important cases struck down gun restrictions in Washington, D.C. and Chicago – rulings that essentially protected gun ownership in the home – a question has remained as to whether it's legal to carry guns in public. But now, the Supreme Court is planning to review a case dealing with that very question; it's known by the shorthand "New York State Rifle."

Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law who specializes in American constitutional law and the Supreme Court. Winkler says the case challenges a New York City ordinance that limits where people with permitted guns can bring them into public; they can bring them to specified gun ranges, for example.

From Texas Standard:

Monday, about 34,000 teachers will walk off the job in Los Angeles – a move described as "historic." It echoes what happened almost a year ago when a West Virginia teacher walkout triggered similar strikes elsewhere in the US. Teachers all over the country are lobbying for higher pay.

Here in Texas, 10 percent of all first-year teachers leave their jobs before their second year. Better pay may be key to keeping more of them in the classroom, and last week, top state lawmakers pledged that 2019 will be the "Year of the Teacher" in the Texas Legislature, promising to boost salaries. But there's still many details yet to be decided.

From Texas Standard:

Texas Standard has been inviting new members of the Texas delegation on Capitol Hill for on-air meet-and-greet sessions. Recent news has made these conversations especially timely: earlier this week we spoke about the shutdown and the situation at the border with a newly minted Democratic representative, Colin Allred. Now it's Lance Gooden's turn; he's the Republican freshman elected in November to take the place of Jeb Hensarling representing District 5, which covers parts of Dallas and East Texas.

Gooden says he supports President Donald Trump's idea to declare a national emergency in order to secure funding for the border wall. He says Trump would need to do that "especially if he wants to get what he wants because I don't think he's gonna get it in Congress."

From Texas Standard:

Our attention turns once again to the Texas side of the Rio Grande where President Donald Trump has doubled down on his plan build a wall along the border with Mexico. Over the weekend, Trump said he may declare a national emergency to secure the funding for the wall after White House officials and top legislative aids failed to reach a compromise about it, and also failed to end the partial government shutdown.

While politicians hash out immigration policy in Washington, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling deals with the day-to-day impact of immigration in the Rio Grande Valley – one of Texas' busiest border-crossing regions. Darling says he sees several hundred asylum seekers per day come to respite centers in the area. And while media have focused on the Central American migrant caravans moving through Mexico, he says they've missed what's actually happening at the border.

From Texas Standard:

It's something you don't hear often in the news: President Donald Trump is endorsing a measure that has the support of Democrats and Republicans in Congress. This rare occasion for bipartisanship represents what some consider the biggest overhaul to the nation's criminal justice system in recent memory.

Shaila Dewaun is national criminal justice editor for The New York Times. She says the bill would help people leaving prison with reentry into the outside world, including providing money for education and treatment programs.

President Donald Trump is now planning to send between 800 and 1,000 active-duty U.S. troops to the southern border to counter a caravan of migrants from Central America. The migrants are now making their way through Mexico. The president has called the approaching caravan a national emergency.

To get a perspective from the border, Texas Standard Host David Brown spoke with John Ferguson, the mayor of Presidio, in far west Texas, and Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

From Texas Standard:

In February, 12-year-old Linda Rogers died when her home in Northwest Dallas exploded as she was getting ready for school. A preliminary report cited a crack in a natural gas line.

An investigation by the Dallas Morning News finds that, since 2006, more than two dozen homes across  North and Central Texas have been destroyed or damaged because of natural gas leaking from Atmos Energy's aging system. Nine people have died. At least 22 others have been injured.

From Texas Standard:

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the Rebuild Texas Fund reported the amount of recovery money Nueces County, where Port Aransas is located, has received. The reporting agency is called the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.

City leaders say Hurricane Harvey damaged 100 percent of Port Aransas' businesses and 85 percent of the beach community's homes.

From Texas Standard:

Political pundits, pollsters and activists have been saying for a while that the 2018 midterm elections are likely to result in some upheaval in the ranks of incumbent officeholders. Already, in special elections in other states, Democrats have run strong in reliably Republican areas, and here at home, one senator, and several members of Congress face enthusiastic opposition. But statewide officeholders – Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller – face somewhat easier paths to reelection. Still, Democrats are campaigning aggressively.

From Texas Standard.

In early January 2017, a fire allegedly started by Mark Vincent Perez burned a mosque in Victoria to the ground. Since then, the community has remained quiet about the motivations for this act of arson. As the case goes to trial, details are finally coming out, one witness at a time.

From Texas Standard.

Texas is facing lawsuits over some of its abortion laws, including House Bill 2, which restricts access to abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires abortion clinics to maintain the same medical facilities as hospitals. The state is also being sued over the Fetal Burial Law, which requires clinics to bury remains from abortions and miscarriages.

From Texas Standard.

In a backlash against the president’s immigration policies, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, are now echoing calls from some Democratic Socialists and other progressives that ICE should be dissolved. The Texas Observer first reported this story, picked up today by The New York Times.

From Texas Standard.

Still celebrating its advance in the World Cup this week, Mexico is headed into another emotional weekend as the much anticipated presidential election gets underway.

From Texas Standard.

South Texas is ground zero for a fight to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Trump administration has tried to end it, but twice, courts have ruled that the administration can’t do that. Now DACA opponents are trying a different legal maneuver – Texas and six other states have sued the federal government. The Trump Justice Department’s not putting up a fight, which could mean the end of DACA.

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday that it was OK for Ohio to remove people from voter registration rolls if those voters skip a few elections and then fail to respond to a notice from election officials. Ohio claimed this was necessary for the proper upkeep of voter registration lists and to prevent voter fraud.

Republicans have been pushing for such restrictions without much actual evidence of fraud, while Democrats have often seen such moves as attempts to suppress voting. What does the ruling mean for Texas?

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