Texas Tribune Brief

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Start your day with a concise round-up of what you need to know today — delivered straight to your podcast player or smart speaker. With reporters based in Austin, Washington, D.C., and on the U.S.–Mexico border, The Brief is your go-to source for news on statewide issues.

The Texas Tribune

    • Nov 29, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
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    Latest episodes from Texas Tribune Brief

    Some power companies say the state's electricity grid is not ready for another deep freeze.

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2021 2:31

    Natural gas powers the majority of electricity in Texas, especially during winter. Some power companies say the state's gas system is not ready for another deep freeze.

    Fewer patients, smaller staff, an uncertain future: abortion providers await court decision on Texas law

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 4:59

    For two months, providers have had to work in a sort of limbo as they wait to see if the new law passes the Supreme Court's review.

    The Texas grid is vulnerable to blackouts during severe winter weather, even with new preparations, ERCOT estimates show

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 4:59

    The most severe scenario considered by the state's power grid operator for this winter — very high demand for power, extensive fossil fuel outages, and low renewable power production — does not capture the amount of power lost during February.

    Shipping containers create “steel wall” next to Texas-Mexico bridge at Eagle Pass

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 4:10

    Gov. Greg Abbott says the wall of roughly 20 shipping containers will help prevent migrants from crossing the border.

    Texas Democrats rely on voters of color to be competitive. So why are their top statewide candidates mostly white?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 4:48

    The GOP slate for statewide office includes two high-profile Latinos and two Black candidates who have previously held state or federal office. Republicans are making a play to be more competitive with voters of color as the state's electorate grows more diverse.

    Among El Pasoans, Beto O'Rourke's gubernatorial run excites loyal fans and revives longtime grudges

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 4:10

    El Pasoans who have followed O'Rourke's political career are excited about his run for governor. But his critics still remember his support of a development plan that could have displaced Mexican American residents from one of the city's oldest barrios.

    Beto O'Rourke enters 2022 a weaker candidate with a harder race

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 4:40

    O'Rourke joins the 2022 gubernatorial race as Texas' best-known Democrat, but he carries considerably more baggage after a series of political failures.

    Beto O'Rourke says he's running for Texas governor

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 4:54

    O'Rourke's decision to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott ends months of speculation and gives Democrats a formidable campaigner at the top of the ticket — someone who transformed Texas politics with his blockbuster campaign against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.

    Texas schools can again set their own face mask rules after federal judge overrules Gov. Greg Abbott's ban

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 3:27

    The judge said the governor's order impedes children with disabilities from the benefits of public schools' programs, services and activities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Joe Biden's infrastructure plan will set aside about $35 billion for Texas projects

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 4:20

    The funds will help advance existing plans, pay for much-needed repairs and launch other projects for roads, bridges, broadband access, electric vehicle charging stations and more.

    Unvaccinated Texans make up vast majority of COVID-19 cases and deaths this year, new state data shows

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 5:24

    The new state survey is the first time Texas health officials have been able to statistically measure the vaccine's true impact on the pandemic.

    U.S. reopens land borders with Mexico to vaccinated travelers

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 3:45

    The ports of entry were closed for 19 months in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Mexican nationals will need to present proof of vaccination to enter the U.S.

    U.S. Justice Department sues Texas over new voting law

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 3:45

    Republican Texas lawmakers passed sweeping legislation this year to further restrict the state's voting process and narrow local control of elections.

    In latest blunder, charges dropped against migrants arrested in Texas governor's border crackdown because of faulty paperwork

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 4:14

    The migrants were arrested for trespassing, but court documents failed to specify what property they allegedly trespassed upon. It's the latest misstep in implementation of Greg Abbott's border initiative, which has seen frequent violations of state law and disregard for due process rights.

    Election results in Texas

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 3:25

    Texas voters decided on eight proposed changes to the state's Constitution. Voters in the San Antonio area chose a new Texas House member. And Austin voted down hiring more police officers.

    Key U.S. Supreme Court justices express concern about Texas abortion law's enforcement

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 3:57

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday grilled attorneys for abortion providers, the federal government and Texas over the state's near-total abortion ban — and possibly hinted at support for allowing at least one legal challenge to the law to stand.

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments over Texas' near-total abortion ban Monday.

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 2:53

    The high court's proceedings will focus on how Senate Bill 8 is enforced. It's hard to predict what the court could decide, but its ruling will likely determine the future of abortion in Texas and shape the legal battles to come.

    For Texans who want a child but have difficult pregnancies, the new abortion law just made that journey even harder

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 4:21

    Genetic testing allows Texans to find out early if their baby has a fatal condition. But often by the time they do find out, they will no longer have the right to terminate that pregnancy under the new state law.

    How Texas Republicans moved beyond a bathroom bill to successfully ban transgender athletes from school sports

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 4:33

    In 2017, conservative lawmakers failed to pass legislation targeting transgender Texans. Things were different this year.

    FDA panel recommends approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5-11.

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2021 4:36

    The move opens the door to emergency use approval by the FDA. In Texas, about 2.9 million children would be newly eligible if that happens.

    Gov. Greg Abbott signs off on Texas' new political maps, which protect GOP majorities while diluting voices of voters of color

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 2:57

    Texas lawmakers drew new maps for the state House and Senate, congressional delegation and State Board of Education. Here's what Texans should know about the 2021 redistricting outcomes.

    Universities in Texas with federal contracts are grappling with competing vaccine mandates from the state and federal government

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 2:30

    Many of Texas' higher learning institutions, which have collectively received billions of dollars in federal contracts, are trying to figure out whether they need to require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. An executive order from President Joe Biden that requires all federal contractors to get a shot goes into effect soon but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already banned such directives in the state.

    Gov. Greg Abbott's pick for top Texas election post worked with Trump to fight 2020 results

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 4:02

    As secretary of state, Fort Worth attorney John Scott would oversee election administration in Texas.

    U.S. Senate Republicans block federal voting rights legislation that would override Texas' restrictions

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 3:40

    In their latest push to lift state-level voting restrictions, Senate Democrats failed to secure the 60 votes required to break a filibuster on the Freedom to Vote Act.

    Republicans say Texas' new political maps are “race blind.” To some voters of color, that translates as political invisibility.

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 3:43

    With partisan fervor, Republicans drew new maps for Congress and the Legislature that dilute the power of voters of color. Now the lawsuits begin, as groups that feel marginalized battle for representation in the halls of power.

    Legislators pass most — but not all — of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority measures in final flurry of lawmaking

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 3:21

    Lawmakers approved new political maps and decided how to spend COVID-19 relief money. But they didn't pass bills about vaccine mandates or the criminal penalty for illegal voting.

    Texans will decide eight proposed amendments to the state Constitution on Nov. 2.

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 2:42

    Two proposed amendments — one regarding religious services and another related to nursing home visitors — stem from restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early voting begins Oct. 18.

    GOP primary foe Don Huffines sees impact as Gov. Greg Abbott pushes rightward

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 2:56

    Huffines has been the most vocal fellow Republican taking on Abbott, pressuring him over his COVID-19 response, the border and other hot-button issues.

    U.S. Department of Justice investigating abuse, mistreatment at Texas' juvenile lockups

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 3:23

    The department says it's looking into whether the Texas Juvenile Justice Department provides “reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation.”

    Gov. Greg Abbott bans any COVID-19 vaccine mandates — including for private employers

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 4:19

    Appeals court allows Texas abortion law to resume, stopping federal judge's order to block its enforcement

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 3:06

    Because of the way the law is written, it appears that clinics and doctors who performed abortions outlawed by the statute even while the block was in effect would now be vulnerable to lawsuits.

    This undocumented young Texan faces uncertainty after DACA applications are closed

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2021 9:40

    A University of Texas at Austin student who planned to apply to an Obama-era initiative for immigrants who came to America as children is stuck in limbo after a Texas judge halted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

    At least one major Texas abortion provider resumes procedure lawmakers tried to prohibit, after judge blocks near-total ban

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 4:59

    The ruling late Wednesday from a U.S. District Judge doesn't protect providers who perform abortions while the Texas law makes its way through the courts.

    Texas' near-total abortion ban is temporarily blocked by a federal judge, spurring the state to quickly appeal

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 3:14

    It wasn't immediately clear how the order may affect access to abortions in the state. The law is constructed in a way that people who violate it could be liable to litigation if enforcement is reinstated.

    Texas prosecutor drops charges after migrants claim they were marched to private property, then arrested for trespassing

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 3:53

    The Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Border Patrol insist the 11 men, arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott's border initiative, weren't set up for trespassing charges. But a county attorney decided the case was too muddled to prosecute.

    Two Black members of Congress decry redistricting map that pits them against each other as discriminatory

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 4:09

    Despite the objections of U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, a Senate committee voted out a redrawn congressional map Monday without addressing the overlap in their Houston districts. The map heads next to the full Senate for a vote.

    Schools in Texas have reported more coronavirus cases in two months than they did in the entire 2020-21 school year

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 3:49

    Two months into this school year, districts have reported 172,275 cases in students. But state data on school cases is incomplete and likely an undercount.

    Texas House proposes map that increases Republican strength and decreases Black and Hispanic majority districts

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 1, 2021 4:55

    The Texas Legislature is in the midst of its third special session, which is dedicated to redrawing political maps based on the latest census data that showed people of color fueled 95% of Texas' population growth over the past decade.

    State of Texas appears to be paying a secretive Republican political operative $120,000 annually to work behind the scenes on redistricting

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 6:03

    Adam Foltz, now on the Texas payroll, played a key role in Wisconsin's redistricting last decade. A federal court threw out some of the maps and called the effort Foltz was involved in "an all but shameful attempt to hide the redistricting process from public scrutiny."

    Court orders release of more than 200 migrants imprisoned in Gov. Greg Abbott's border security clampdown

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 5:16

    The men were arrested by state troopers and held for weeks without facing formal charges, a violation of state law. It's the latest misfire in Abbott's hastily assembled effort to involve Texas in patrolling the border.

    Legislators in Texas reduce congressional districts that are majority Black or Hispanic, despite people of color fueling population growth

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 3:55

    The proposed congressional map also increases the number of districts where Trump had a majority of voters over Biden in 2020 and protects Republican incumbents who might have been vulnerable by packing their districts with more Trump voters.

    Migrants arrested by Texas in border crackdown are being imprisoned for weeks without legal help or formal charges

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 4:39

    Defense attorneys have started asking courts to set migrants free because local justice systems, overwhelmed by arrests under Gov. Greg Abbott's border security push, are routinely violating state law and constitutional due process rights.

    Abortion providers in Texas ask U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track their challenge to state's near-total abortion ban

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 3:46

    The Supreme Court had previously declined to block the law but didn't rule on its constitutionality.

    Troopers create “steel wall” of patrol vehicles in Del Rio as feds continue to repatriate Haitians

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 4:06

    Gov. Greg Abbott says the line of law enforcement and military vehicles is stopping migrants from crossing the Rio Grande into Del Rio, where the number of migrants camped under a bridge keeps dropping.

    Texas' ban on school mask mandates draws federal investigation for possibly violating the rights of students with disabilities

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2021 4:03

    The U.S. Department of Education announced the inquiry days after the Texas Education Agency quietly updated its guidance to say school districts can't require masks.

    Doctor who admitted to violating Texas' near-total abortion ban sued under new law

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 4:42

    The lawsuit comes after Dr. Alan Braid said he performed an abortion prohibited by the law earlier this month. Braid said he was motivated by a “duty of care.”

    Texas Republicans have the redistricting tools to preserve their power. The process begins Monday.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 3:50

    Lawmakers must redraw the state's political maps to account for a decade's worth of growth, but the process leaves enough room for political manipulation. Here's how it'll work.

    Delta variant, lax mask policies delay Plano family's return to school

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2021 6:55

    Parents remain divided over whether to require masks in the classroom. For Carmen Campbell, there's just too much uncertainty right now to feel comfortable sending her son back. Listen in the weekend edition of The Brief podcast.

    Gov. Greg Abbott backpedals on pledge to shut down border crossings and blames Biden administration for confusion

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2021 3:40

    Abbott's announcements come as thousands of migrants — mostly from Haiti — have gathered under an international bridge in Del Rio.

    State of Texas abortion ban prompts push in Congress to pass federal reproductive rights bill, while renewing filibuster feud

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 3:55

    U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the House will take up the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021 in late September, but the bill faces steep odds in the Senate.

    New report says,Texas foster care children exposed to sexual abuse, given wrong medication and neglected in unlicensed placements

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2021 4:01

    The federal judge overseeing the decadelong lawsuit against Texas for conditions in its foster care system cut this week's hearing short. She proposed all parties involved, including the governor, “cut to the chase” to identify solutions.

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