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Naked City
The National Council of La Raza issues a disheartening report on Texans of color and the state's justice system.
News Story  August 1, 2003, by Belinda Acosta
"...Authored by Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, HB 2668 -- advanced in the Legislature as a money-saving measure -- is considered a groundbreaking reform of Texas' criminal-justice system..."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  March 21, 2003
"...So when we try to enlist the rest of the world to eliminate an evil dictator like Saddam, other nations are reluctant to join us. It's time for the Texas Legislature, Gov..."

The GOP's Inaugurama
News Story  January 24, 2003, by Michael King
"...Isaiah is an old favorite of Naked City as well. At this auspicious moment, the opening of the 78th Texas Legislature, we cheerfully recall Isaiah 10:1-4: "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless..."

Taking the Fifth?
The battle lines form over the Bush nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
News Story  July 19, 2002, by Michael King
"...Gonzales praises Owen as a fair and objective jurist, and says if the Texas Supreme Court seems conservative, the cause is elsewhere. He told The Dallas Morning News that the Texas Legislature is pro-business and therefore, "If we do our job as judges, we are going to come out with decisions that appear pro-business."..."

Beaten by Wackenhut
A former Travis County inmate alleges that Wackenhut Corporation bears responsibility for his prison beating.
News Story  July 5, 2002, by Jordan Smith
"...[It] is intentional fraud ... You can spin it whatever way you want, but the bottom line is, where is the money?" Ultimately, Prater and his attorney charge, their defeat does little to answer the lawsuit's central questions: Who is responsible for what happened inside the Wackenhut-managed jail, and could it happen again?'Double-Dipping' In 1993, a group of district attorneys (including Travis County DA Ronnie Earle) and other law enforcement agencies lobbied successfully before the Texas Legislature to add a new class of felon (fourth-degree) and a new class of prison (state jail facilities) to the Texas criminal justice system..."

Capitol Chronicle
Despite John Cornyn's jokes and the end of the Ruiz suit, Texas prisons still need reform.
News Column  June 21, 2002, by Michael King
"...But Ward and Bishop also found themselves stymied at every turn for information about prison conditions -- information that should be public (and is in other states) but is kept secret in Texas by prison administrators, often with the cooperation of the Legislature. Asked to rule on the question of maintaining secrecy over this information, Cornyn -- who is generally more responsive on matters of open records -- routinely ruled against disclosure and in favor of prison administrators..."

Naked City
News Story  May 31, 2002, by Lauri Apple
"...It's not back: Wednesday, the Capital Metro Board of Directors voted to delay any light rail referendum until 2004. The vote is a consequence of a Cap Metro deal worked out with the Texas Legislature..."

Naked City
News Story  April 26, 2002, by Lauri Apple
"...The Texas Legislature's Austin-bashing has become an issue in the governor's race, though not in the way you might expect. Seems that five days after Gov..."

The Father's Day Massacre
A brief analysis of a number of Gov. Perry's vetoes
News Column  June 29, 2001, by Michael King
"...On June 17, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed 78 bills passed during the recently adjourned 77th session of the Texas Legislature..."

Postmarks
Readers sound off on a variety of touchy subjects: politicos, abandoned kittens, even the brachiation of apes.
Columns  June 15, 2001
"...The shortfall in funds needed to conduct business as usual has now led the Texas Legislature to sanction the planning of many new Texas highways as toll roads, proposed to be built with loans from the big New York bond houses. If you examine the documents produced by the Texas Turnpike Authority in favor of its current toll roads projects like SH 130, the future toll revenues are banking on car-centric, low-density suburban sprawl trends continuing for decades into the future until the bonds are paid off...."

Capitol Chronicle
The grandfathered pollution exemption celebrates its 30th birthday, and the Lege takes another look at cleaning up the air
News Column  April 6, 2001, by Michael King
"...Unlike required emissions reductions, SB 5's results are very uncertain, and activists are worried it will be used to "bust the SIPs" -- that is, allow further voluntary wait-and-see while the air gets more and more polluted. "We think there are some good things in this bill," said Mark McCloud of Environmental Defense, "but the big thing is that we have a responsibility to make the Legislature and the citizens aware: This bill does not solve the problems of Houston..."

Double Jeopardy
The state of Texas jailed Cuban exile Carlos Lavernia for 16 years for a crime he did not commit. Now the INS might send him back to Cuba.
News Story  February 23, 2001, by Amy Smith
"...Shortly after Lavernia's DNA results were announced, another piece of startling news followed, this time based on the work of the Wisconsin Innocence Project: A DNA test conducted on Christopher Ochoa, one of two men convicted in Travis County and serving a life sentence for murder, showed no connection between Ochoa and the crime scene of the rape and murder of a Pizza Hut worker in 1988. These stories, of innocent men serving decades of jail time for crimes they didn't commit, have influenced legislators, and this session several DNA bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature (see "New Forensics, New Laws," below)...."

Capitol Chronicle
In Texas Courtrooms, a Fair Legal Defense is Often an Empty Promise
News Column  February 9, 2001, by Michael King
"...Truan dismissed Keller's "initiatives" as simply slight increases in programs carried over from last session, which would do little to improve indigent defense, and he called repeatedly for Keller and her colleagues to "show some leadership" on the issue. Keller responded tentatively that indigent defense was a local, county matter, but that "the court supports efforts to improve indigent care, and whatever the Legislature asks us to do in that regard, we'd be happy to do." Truan again demanded leadership from Keller and her court -- "If you don't do it, who will do it?" he asked -- and the tension was only broken when Houston Democrat John Whitmire suggested politely that Keller return to the committee in a week or two with an "aggressive" plan to address the problem: "Any of us who've practiced law or spent any time around the courts knows the current situation is terribly inadequate."..."

Articulations
The Texas Cultural Trust Council announces a new set of honors for native and residents of the Lone Star State, the Texas Medal of the Arts Awards, and the recipients of the first awards.
Arts Column  January 26, 2001, by Robert Faires
"...See, the council was created in 1995 specifically to raise money for the arts, money for an endowment to be administered by the state. The Texas Cultural Trust Fund, established in 1993, was the Texas Legislature's way around the hassle of having to find money for the arts in its usual budget..."

Not Clucking Around
East Texas chicken magnate Bo Pilgrim wants a state permit to build a bigger chicken slaughterhouse and waste disposal facility -- right across the creek from Sen. Bill Ratliff's in-laws' vacation home.
News Story  November 3, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"...As unseemly as it was, the public buying of influence was probably good for state government. It spawned a series of new campaign finance laws, including one that prohibits lawmakers from accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session, or accepting contributions inside the Capitol..."

Meow Mix
Texans Are Wild About Exotic Cats, but at What Cost?
News Story  August 4, 2000, by Cheryl Smith
"...Carol Asvestas, director of the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, hears stories like Simba's all the time. She says she gets about eight calls a month concerning taking in a big cat, compared to only two or three before 1997 -- the year the Texas Legislature transferred responsibility for monitoring exotic animal ownership from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept..."

The Plot Thickens
Funeral Scandal Is a Real Scene Stealer
News Story  May 5, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"..."Chet" Robbins. Despite the exciting season of programming, however, it also appears that the Texas Legislature, which nearly pulled the plug on the funeral soap opera during its last session, may decide to end the series early next year by permanently shifting the agency's duties to the Texas Department of Health...."

Naked City
Five Austin campuses make Newsweek's list of the "best" schools based on AP course offerings; but some say the results are skewed.
News Story  March 24, 2000, by Kevin Fullerton
"...The recognition given AISD schools -- one of which, LBJ High School, ranked 17th -- is a sweet payoff for the district's three-year-old drive to place more students in AP courses, leading a statewide surge in AP-course participation, spurred on by initiatives from the Texas Legislature and Gov. George W..."

High-Tech Heist
A former Power Computing company employee stole memory modules and drew a 25-year prison sentence.
News Story  December 24, 1999, by Brett Holloway-Reeves
"...For one thing, it's costing Texas citizens $42 a day to hold Pierce behind bars. Based on figures from the Criminal Justice Policy Institute, which advises the Texas Legislature on penal issues, the average larcenist is sentenced to eight years and serves between a year and two years' actual time..."

Postmarks
How the WTO touches our readers' lives; and other hot-button issues like film reviews, bikes, and Kevin Fullerton.
Columns  December 10, 1999
"...I suggest to you that those facilities would not be going up unless Mexicans have sufficient income to support them. Do you think Mexicans appreciate American "progressive" rabblerousers portraying them as poor? Worse, do you think they appreciate Americans telling them that they shouldn't have the right to choose to work for a foreign employer and to enter the middle class, as apparently they are? In a similar vein, why can't busybody liberals concede that I should have the right to choose in the marketplace and that this is a necessary component to democracy? For example, I think that I should have the right to buy raw milk from a willing provider, do you? Apparently the Texas Legislature thinks not..."

On the Lege
Free to Be
News Column  April 1, 1999


Wallet and Spirit
Sickbed Fortune
News Story  January 28, 1999, by Debbie Nathan
"...Texans for Public Justice monitors the way campaign financing influences judges and lawmakers, and it calls TLR "the 800-pound gorilla of the tort-reform PACs." During the 1996 state elections cycle, TLR gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates, mostly Republicans. Since then, the Texas legislature has passed laws that have gutted worker's compensation and exempted industries from responsibility for worker and consumer safety..."

Viva Bilingual Ed
Texas Not Likely to Follow California's Lead
News Story  June 12, 1998, by Lisa Tozzi
"...Here in the Lone Star state, a measure similar to Prop. 227 would have to be introduced in the Legislature, which Texas educators say is a cushion - albeit a thin one - against a narrow special-interest campaign, or a millionaire Unz-backed media blitz..."

What's My Line?
Tracking the Freight Rail vs.Commuter Rail Debate
News Story  May 22, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...On March 25, the council voted in favor of creating a commuter rail district for the Austin-San Antonio corridor. The vote was made under a piece of enabling legislation passed during the last session of the Texas Legislature..."

A Bad Rap
Ratliff's Rider Ticks Off Music Industry, Civil Servants
News Story  March 20, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...But the senator and his ally accomplished far more than they intended. They pushed a budget rider through the Texas Legislature that could force the state to sell nearly $800 million worth of stock in a half-dozen companies owning interests in record labels that publish rap music by artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac Shakur..."

Cruel and Unusual
Prisoners Fear Violence in Texas Prisons
News Story  February 27, 1998, by Janet Heimlich
"...In September of last year, a Texas Senate committee began a year-long study to examine prisoner safety issues; it has held hearings which included testimony from prison officials and the families of inmates. But if actions by the legislature over the last several years are any indicator of what will be done, Texas prisons will not become safer places to serve one's time..."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  February 6, 1998
"...Over the years, Jacobi's troupe has put on something of a case study in how not to build a nuclear waste dump. In 1991, following a decade of fruitlessly searching for a suitable site and an amenable host community, the Texas Legislature drew a box around a piece of Hudspeth County and said, "Build the damn thing here." As luck would have it (can you say "pin the tail on the donkey?"), the Authority chose Sierra Blanca, a low-income, predominantly Mexican-American community (about 75 miles southeast of El Paso) that the Authority had previously rejected as a potential site..."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  December 5, 1997
"...The Lone Star Imaging System -- a $17 million electronic fingerprinting apparatus designed to wipe out welfare fraud in Texas -- has had only lackluster success in detecting scammers, a year-long study reveals. Playing to the public's growing concern over welfare cheats, the Texas Legislature this year earmarked state funding for the system, which uses electronic fingerprinting to identify those applying for or receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children and food stamp benefits..."

Banking on Amtrak
Kay Bailey Hutchison's Been Workin' on the Railroad
News Column  June 13, 1997, by Brett Holloway-Reeves
"...illustration by Doug Potter Don't be surprised: The Texas Legislature has made history again. Amtrak Corp..."

The Backstage Crew
Council Candidates' Consultants Direct the Show
News Story  April 11, 1997
"...As was the case with Greenberg, Yznaga labored to help Maxey break new ground on two fronts. Maxey not only was an Anglo angling for a Hispanic seat, he was also bidding to be the first openly gay politician in the Texas Legislature...."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  March 28, 1997
"...During his March 20 speech to SPJ, Morales noted that the trend in the Texas Legislature is to "create exemptions" for agencies when it comes to open records laws, and that it is "far more difficult to pass bills that provide openness." Given his support of openness, this reporter asked Morales to discuss his office's relationship to TL. Morales said that when a publication makes an error one time, "it's excusable." If they make errors on three or four things, he said, that's still okay..."

Education Top 10
News Story  January 10, 1997, by Roseana Auten
"...But the SBOE isn't invulnerable. One high-ranking officer with the Texas Association of School Boards believes that the Texas Legislature could reduce the SBOE's authority even further if the board doesn't behave itself...."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  December 20, 1996
"...Also, the Texas Legislature is expected to begin discussing the deregulation of the electric utility industry in 1997. To prepare for that, the city council last week cut 15% of the funding for electricity conservation measures..."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  November 15, 1996
"...The gods of annexation were looking out for Austin in the Maple Run Utility District ruling; now the city is praying for another miracle: Regaining control over its extra-territorial jurisdiction in Cedar Park -- control that the Texas Legislature took away last year. Renea Hicks, the city's outside counsel on the case, laid out all the reasons why Austin should have that authority restored in oral arguments last month before the Third Court of Appeals..."

Not a Drop to Drink
Comal Springs Is Drying Up
News Story  July 12, 1996, by Robert Bryce
"...Woe to the Weevil? The Texas Legislature created a boll weevil program in 1993, allowing the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) to collect assessments from farmers for a statewide pesticide application program. In 1995, the Lege gave the Boll Weevil Eradication Board governmental immunity from any liability caused by the eradication effort..."

Big Fish,Small Bowl
On View: Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Moses
News Story  February 2, 1996, by Roseana Auten
"...It had to be. A "new," smaller TEA emerged from the 74th Legislature, as promised to voters by the new governor..."

Naked City
Off the Desk
News Story  December 1, 1995
"...SOSLDF lead attorney Bill Bunch expressed joy over the court's decision, and says his group only "reluctantly" filed the suit after all normal channels were exhausted. "Given that the Texas Legislature made it virtually impossible to protect the springs, we had no choice but to ask for federal protections for both the salamander and the [Edwards] aquifer in which it lives," he adds. Bunch is referring to the recent passage of "Austin-bashing" bills that released key developments over the watershed from Austin's water quality regulations...."

Perry Wears Egg
Agriculture Commissioner Takes It on the Chin
News Story  November 3, 1995
"..."We have a lot of reasons for why it did happen," he said. "There [are] just no answers." And Myers' agency was given protection during the last session of the Texas Legislature by Senate Bill 1196, written by Sen..."

Heritage Lost
News Story  October 13, 1995
"...Turner, along with Rep. Susan Combs (R-Austin) was one of the leading proponents of a property rights bill passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year..."

Lege Lines: GOP Sharpens Its Claws for Paid Sick Leave With SB 15
“Consistent Employment Regulations Act” would dismantle city’s right to protect workers
News Story  February 14, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison, Michael King, Austin Sanders and Mary Tuma


Lege Lines: The Voters Speak, the Governor Listens
Abbott leaves the red-state red-meat back at the mansion
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Mary Tuma, Sarah Marloff and Mike Clark-Madison


Headlines
News Story  January 3, 2019
"...Pink Dome Party! And then, on Jan. 8, unto us an 86th Texas Legislature is born, with mostly ceremonial and celebratory business aside from the presumptive ascension of Rep..."

Paul and "Molly & Ann"
Former UT RTF director chronicles the impact of two Texas icons
DAILY Screens  October 25, 2018, by Richard Whittaker
"...Seeing and hearing the work needed to get a bill passed may seem prosaic to political insiders, but there were repercussions for giving audiences these ringside seats. "After we were all done," Stekler said, "the legislature made sure that nobody would ever see anything thing like that again, because I think it's now against the law to wander onto the floor of the state Senate wearing a microphone." [image-1]..."

Medical Marijuana Advocates Look to 2019 Lege for Program Improvements
Barriers in a budding industry
News Story  August 30, 2018, by Mary Tuma
"...The Kennedys saw a gleam of hope when the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 339 in 2015, allowing for the production and sale of a strain of low-level tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high cannabidiol (CBD) medicinal cannabis for patients with epilepsy not helped by pharmaceuticals, with a prescription from a physician. Last year, three dispensaries in Texas were awarded licenses to start growing under the Com­pas­sion­ate Use Program, including South Austin's Compassionate Cultivation..."

TSTEM Coalition Steps in at Mendez
A plan to save a school
News Story  July 12, 2018, by Austin Sanders
"...TEA has rated Mendez "Improve­ment Required" for four years in a row, and a fifth could result in the Austin Independent School Dis­trict closing the school down (2017-18 ratings are expected in August). To avoid that fate, AISD invoked a new law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017 that pauses the rating system at a specific campus for two years and provides additional funding to the school (in Mendez's case, about $1,900 per student), if the district partners with a state-approved group to develop a "turnaround plan" for the campus...."

Point Austin: Primary Afterthoughts
Waking up wondering if Texas will ever be purple
News Column  March 8, 2018, by Michael King
"...The prospect of either Roger Williams (CD 25 GOP incumbent) or whatever Lamar Smith-wannabe emerges from the free-for-all that was the GOP CD 21 primary retaining those congressional seats – carved out of Travis County first by Tom DeLay and then the broader Legislature's ongoing determination to render Demo­cratic voters irrelevant – should inspire every Central Texas voter to do what ever we can to make things right. Blue wave, women's wave, small "d" democratic wave – if Texas is ever going to be a representative, two-party state, November brings a real chance to make that happen...."

Research Zedler
Postmarks  December 18, 2017
"...I understand why the medical board felt that they had to dismiss the case but am encouraged that they expressed their support for the complainants and regretted that they had to act as they did. The board is the only protection for patients since the Texas Legislature enacted tort reform in 2003 limiting legal recourse for medical malpractice...."

During Austin Visit, A.G. Jeff Sessions Rehashes Immigration Myths
Activists protest Sessions and the DOJ's "racist" agenda
DAILY News  October 23, 2017, by Mary Tuma
"...Predictably, Sessions applauded the Texas Legislature for passing one of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in the country, Senate Bill 4, and slammed so-called “sanctuary cities,“ warning those cities that they could stand to lose federal law enforcement grants. As SB 4 winds through the courts, Sessions called the legal outcome of “national interest.” The A.G..."

Attorneys Fight D&E Abortion Ban in Court
Judge Yeakel plans to issue ruling “quickly” before Sept. 1
DAILY News  August 29, 2017, by Mary Tuma
"...Found within Senate Bill 8, a package of abortion restrictions passed by the Legislature during the regular session, is a provision that bans dilation and evacuation, or D&E abortion – the safest and most common method during the second trimester, which is around 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law also criminalizes doctors who violate it..."

Headlines
News Story  July 27, 2017
"...Where's Our Invite? Mayors from five major Texas cities, including Austin, have been left out of meetings this week with Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss local issues at the Texas Legislature..."

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