- Galveston, TX Weather :: 90F A Few Clouds August 22, 201790F A Few Clouds
- Galveston, TX Weather :: 90F A Few Clouds August 22, 2017
- J.J. Watt, Adam Wexler make super-fan's dream a reality August 22, 2017KPRC 2 sports reporter Adam Wexler helped a Texans J.J. Watt super-fan make her dream a reality Monday at the first day of Houston preseason training camp.Wexler took a photo of Kimberly Cannon's unique tattoo featuring the defensive end's face, and queried Twitter: "Should we talk to this Texans fan coming up on KPRC2? Um, […]
- Bodybuilder dies after reportedly choking on food at Florida home August 22, 2017Bodybuilding star Dallas McCarver died Monday at his Palm Beach County home after reportedly choking on food.TMZ reports McCarver, 26, was found unconscious by his girlfriend, Dana Brooke, just after they had spoke on the phone before he was going to prepare dinner.Brooke, who currently wrestles in the WWE, says it is believed that McCarver […]
- Texans hold first preseason practice in Houston August 21, 2017Fresh off their preseason win against the reigning Super Bowl champs the Houston Texans on Monday will hold the team's first practice in Houston this season.The Texans beat the New England Patriots 27-23 at NRG Stadium on Saturday. It was the team's second preseason game.The Texans will return to the practice field in Houston at […]
- Athletics avoid sweep with 3-2 win over Astros August 21, 2017Marcus Semien wound up with a Little League home run when Houston kept throwing the ball away to help the Oakland Athletics avoid a sweep with a win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.The play in the 3-2 victory reminded Semien of the last time he was involved in something similar - which actually was […]
- Whitecaps beat Dynamo 2-1 August 20, 2017Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna scored in the first half to help the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday night.Montero scored on a penalty kick in the 17th minute after Reyna was brought down by Boniek Garcia. Montero sent goalkeeper Tyler Deric the wrong way with a shot that touched the right […]
- Texans defeat Patriots 27-23 in 2nd game of 2017 preseason at NRG Stadium August 20, 2017Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass in his first game since winning the Super Bowl on the same field and the New England Patriots fell to the Houston Texans 27-23 in a preseason game on Saturday night.Brady, who sat out last week, was 6 of 9 for 67 yards while directing the offense for two […]
- McHugh throws 6 innings in Astros' 3-0 win over A's August 20, 2017Collin McHugh threw six innings, Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run single and the Houston Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-0 on Saturday night.McHugh (1-2) gave up six hits and struck out three. McHugh, who missed the first 3 1/2 months with right shoulder tendinitis and a right elbow injury, has allowed two runs or fewer […]
- Keuchel throws 7 shutout innings in Astros' 3-1 win over A's August 19, 2017Dallas Keuchel threw seven shutout innings, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve homered and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Friday night.Keuchel (11-2) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three in a dominant performance. Keuchel had his second straight solid outing after allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings Sunday at […]
- Texas A&M team visiting Spain safe, officials say August 18, 2017Members of the Texas A&M University women's basketball team are safe Thursday after a terrorist attack in Barcelona, officials said.The team tweeted messages of support and comfort for the people of Spain after a van plowed through a crowd of people, killing 12 and injuring 80."We have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmth with […]
- Corbin goes 8 2/3 innings, Diamondbacks beat Astros 4-0 August 17, 2017Patrick Corbin was kicking himself for one small mistake that led to his exit.The Arizona pitcher came within an out of his first career shutout and first complete game since 2013 in the Daimondbacks' 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday.After allowing a two-out double to Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the ninth, […]
- J.J. Watt, Adam Wexler make super-fan's dream a reality August 22, 2017
- A body found in Southeast Texas canal ID'd as missing woman August 22, 2017GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Authorities have identified a body recovered from a canal in a waterfront Southeast Texas community as that of a woman ...
- A Body Found in Southeast Texas Canal ID'd as Missing Woman August 22, 2017GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Authorities have identified a body recovered from a canal in a waterfront Southeast Texas community as that of a woman ...
- Texas Prisoner Responds To Theory That He's Responsible For Galveston Serial Murders August 22, 2017Is Edward Harold Bell a serial killer who preyed on young women around Galveston in the 1970s – or is he just the subject of a vast conspiracy?
- 9th Annual BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival August 22, 2017Every year since 2008, BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival takes over Galveston and people flock here to tap into the world of craft beer on island time.
- Next Level Capital Group $3.00 million Financing. Louis Gately Submitted Aug 22 SEC Filing August 22, 2017The filler's address is: 2200 Market St, Suite 412, Galveston, Tx, Texas, 77550. Louis Vincent Gately is the related person in the form and it has ...
- University of Texas Medical Branch lung experiment in space August 22, 2017The Galveston County Daily News reports the goal is to grow human body parts, without the rest of the human attached. The experiment sounds like a ...
- Former Low-T Centers employee alleges she is owed unpaid overtime August 22, 2017GALVESTON – A Colleyville employer is accused of failing to pay a former medical assistant and client account manager overtime pay. Jenna Block ...
- TX Houston/Galveston TX Zone Forecast August 22, 2017HGXZFPHGX. FPUS54 KHGX 220942. ZFPHGX. FPUS54 KHGX 220941. ZFPHGX. Zone Forecast Product for Southeast Texas. National Weather ...
- Willowbrook Medical Center Opens New Location in Houston, Texas August 22, 2017... attended and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, ...
- A Gambling Tale: The History of Galveston's Underground Casinos August 21, 2017This 2011 raid was just another example in a long war between law enforcement and those hoping to keep gambling alive in Galveston County, Texas ...
- A body found in Southeast Texas canal ID'd as missing woman August 22, 2017
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- City of La Marque August 22, 2017The City of La Marque has advised that Waste Management will begin offering solid waste, recycling and bulk collection for the city effective October 2.
- Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership August 22, 2017The Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership will host the Second Annual Galveston County Transportation Summit on August 31 in Texas City.
- College of the Mainland August 22, 2017College of the Mainland today announced that Kaci Maris, a COM student transferring to University of Houston, has been named recipient of the Terry Foundation scholarship.
- 34th Greek Festival August 22, 2017The Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Galveston will host the 34th Annual Greek Festival on October 14-15.
- Jamaica Beach City Council August 22, 2017Jamaica Beach City Council canceled its meeting on Monday due to the anticipated lack of a quorum.
- Galveston County District Attorney's Office August 21, 2017The Galveston County District Attorney's office today announced that Niallson Dorsey Price has been sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
- Discussion with Captain Wally Hogan August 21, 2017Captain Wally Hogan, a pilot with the Gal-Tex Pilots, and former presiding officer of the pilots association, recently spoke with Guidry News Service regarding issues concerning the pilots who maneuver vessels, including cruise liners, into Galveston's ports.
- Texas A&M University-Galveston August 21, 2017Texas A&M University at Galveston today announced that David Brankovits, a student in the university's Marine Biology program, has been selected to explore underwater caves as a member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
- Galveston County Sheriff's Office August 19, 2017The Galveston County Sheriff's Office on Friday reported that deputies prevented an apparent suicide attempt by a woman at the Highway 646 overpass at Interstate Highway 45.
- City of La Marque August 22, 2017
- Trump says US will 'probably' end NAFTA 23 Aug 2017 04:33 The Fresno Bee The Latest on President Donald Trump's visit to Arizona (all times PDT): 8:40 p.m. President Donald Trump says he thinks the U.S. will "end up probably terminating" the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico "at some …
- House Dem presses Trump to appoint ambassador to India 23 Aug 2017 04:32 Hill A senior House Democrat is urging President Trump to quickly nominate an ambassador to India following his prime-time address calling on India to help the U.S. with Afghanistan. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) wrote in a letter to Trump on Tuesday that …
- Trump defends himself again against charges of bigotry 23 Aug 2017 04:32 Charleston Daily Mail A defiant President Donald Trump defended himself against charges of racism, a week after he touched off a national firestorm following white supremacist violence that claimed a life in Charlottesville, Virginia. Speaking at a campaign-style rally in …
- President Trump defends Charlottesville response at rally in Phoenix 23 Aug 2017 04:31 KWGN PHOENIX — President Donald Trump kicked off his campaign rally Tuesday, defending his responses to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and slamming the “damn dishonest” media. “What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America. And …
- URGENT - Trump Arpaio Phoenix Rally Comment 23 Aug 2017 04:31 KITV Honolulu's Channel 4 (CNN) -- President Trump signaled Tuesday night he will pardon Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Maricopa County sheriff in Arizona. "So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?" Trump said at a rally in Phoenix. "You know what, I…
- Trump administration turns to rural communities for input on infrastructure bill 23 Aug 2017 04:30 Hill The Trump administration is seeking input from rural communities around the U.S. as it assembles a $1 trillion infrastructure package. Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoOfficials removed Trump-brand logos from Trump Tower before press …
- Trump rejects use of emergency authority to help coal plants 23 Aug 2017 04:30 Hill The Trump administration has denied a coal company’s request to invoke a little-used authority to stop coal-fired power plants from closing. Murray Energy Corp. CEO Bob Murray, an outspoken advocate for coal and a close ally to President Trump, had asked …
- Trump voices optimism about North Korea 23 Aug 2017 04:30 Weekly Times US President Donald Trump has expressed cautious optimism about a possible improvement in relations with North Korea after months of mounting tension over its weapons programs. "I respect the fact that he is starting to respect us," Trump said …
- Donald Trump omits ‘many sides’ line as he defends Charlottesville remarks in Phoenix 23 Aug 2017 04:29 Global News U.S. President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counter-protester. Trump opened his political rally in …
- Pakistan has much to lose by harbouring terrorists: Trump 23 Aug 2017 04:24 Free Press Journal Washington : Talking tough, President Donald Trump on Tuesday hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists. Trump, in his …
- Puppy attacked by pet store owner’s dog
- Mother left kids in hot car while she drank at bar, police say
- Angela Paxton, Texas attorney general’s wife, eyes Texas Senate run
- US imposes sanctions on Russian, Chinese firms over North Korea
- Parents’ plea for help in finding teenage couple missing for 48 hours
- 2 women claim they were groped by local massage therapist
- Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller criticizes Six Flags’ removal of Confederate flag
- El Paso City Council votes down city ID program
- League City Man Sentenced to 6 Years for Online Solicitation of a non-existent Minor
- UT-Austin removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night
- Galveston County Deputies Prevent Jumper on Bridge at 646 & I-45
- Dickinson Cops use Facebook to Catch a Burglar Named Jesus
- Evading Theft Suspects Taken Into Custody After Causing Accident in League City
- Father faces charges after he and missing boy found at hotel, authorities say
- Confederate Monument Protest Draws Hundreds in Houston
- Former HPD officer among those arrested in prostitution sting
- Mother charged with murder after child ejected during drunken driving crash
- Over 250 sex buyers, traffickers arrested on prostitution charges during sting
- Remember the Alamo (Differently)
- Your phone’s Bluetooth can locate illegal skimmer devices
- With Supreme Court appeal, Texas wants to keep congressional map intact
- Dallas, Houston Protests Planned as Confederate Monuments Under Fire in Texas
- With Trump’s Infrastructure Plan, Rural Texas Could be Left in Disrepair
- Body found in Bayou Vista while searching for woman who disappeared under ‘suspicious circumstances’
- South Florida woman accused of DUI with 3-year-old unbuckled in back seat
- Deputies: Mother tells son to buy her drugs
- HPD officer relieved of duty after DWI charge, officials say
- Abbott: Removing Confederate monuments “won’t erase our nation’s past”
- Prosecution rests at trial of woman accused in 2012 death of husband
- Confederate statue controversy hits Houston
- Selena’s brother taken into custody after landing on most wanted list
- In special session rubble, spotlight shines bright on Straus
- President Trump disbands White House business councils as CEOs leave
- Video shows deadly jailbreak; Man who pleaded guilty in deputy’s death sentenced to life
- Fisherman hooks gator in Buffalo Bayou
- Squatters or scam victims? Homeowner finds another family living in home
- Charges sought against those who toppled Confederate statue
- Houston group asks mayor to remove Confederate statue from downtown park
- Federal court invalidates part of Texas congressional map
- Texas to receive millions in federal funding for wildlife conservation projects
- How a total solar eclipse created France, Italy and Germany
- Deputies Go Unpunished for Invasive Cavity Search on Houston Roadside
- Florida man gets 6 years for firing gun during strip club selfie
- Map details where Texas hate groups are in 2017
- Man blames ‘hookah-smoking caterpillar’ for wrecking liquor store, police say
- ‘I feel like I was raped,’ woman says of invasive roadside strip search
- New Mexico Bandidos members held in Texas in firearms case
- Man, 57, commits suicide after shooting juveniles during road-rage incident, police say
- Mother charged with child abandonment after newborn found in flower bed
- President Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’
- Woman hit, killed by Houston garbage truck while crossing street
- Legislature advances annexation bill to Gov. Abbott
- 2 Teens Who Attacked Man Shot After Auto Accident in Galveston
- White nationalist rally, counter protest planned at Texas A&M on Sept. 11
- Hundreds Clash over Confederate Monument in San Antonio
- Greenspoint Mall to close in 60 days, sources say
- Texas House approves “compromise” city annexation bill
- Asps — poisonous, stinging caterpillars — back in season
- Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session
- Gator spotted on Galveston County road
- After 2015 legalization, Texans may be able to buy medical cannabis oil by January
- Conroe Chief of Police asked to leave doctor’s office
- Law Enforcement Increasingly Opposed to Abbott’s Agenda
- Meet the Expert Who Helps Texas Cops Justify Extreme Behavior
- Baytown woman charged in two La Porte road-rage incidents
- FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home
- Special Session a ‘Battle Royal’ for Dominionists Who Seek Christian Rule
- Zoo employee accused of sex with 14-year-old boy
- New requirement for Texas driver’s license begins soon
- With 8 days left in special session, Texas House and Senate remain far apart
- What you need to know if your vehicle is flooded
- City of Houston applies for FEMA grant to help elevate homes in flood-prone areas
- Commissioners vote to ban swimming, fishing in San Luis Pass
- Texas backs Wisconsin in battle to protect partisan gerrymandering
- SE Houston gas pump appears to charge customers after they are done filling up
- Carjacking suspect accused of shooting father multiple times sentenced to 171 months in prison
- 4 arrested in connection with 2 deadly shootings in Montgomery County
- 1 drowns, 2 injured in incident at San Luis Pass
- 1 arrested, 1 on the run in linked cases of Spring nurse found dead, missing UH student
- Near Drowning at Bacliff Chase Park Pool
- Drunk Wrong Way Driver Arrested in Dickinson
- Lasker Park Community Swimming Pool to Open on August 15th
- Man accused of touching girls’ buttocks in back-to-school aisle at Walmart
- Rare pink dolphin spotted in Louisiana waterway
- Woman found hiding in bed of pickup truck says she ‘was just looking at the stars’
- Amazon sells out of toilet paper with Trump’s tweets
- Teen home invasion suspect killed, man on the run in Baytown
- Houston man last seen throwing life jacket to daughter before going underwater at Canyon Lake
- Deadly dare: 8-year-old girl dies after drinking boiling water
- 2nd Man In Robbery Spree Gets 20 Years Prison
- Oklahoma to seek death penalty against William Reese
- 4 officers taken to hospital after 2 patrol units run into each other, police say
- STATE LEGISLATURE PUTTING THE BRAKES ON TEXAS CITY ANNEXING SAN LEON WITHOUT SAN LEON RESIDENTS APPROVAL:
- 2 men charged in teen girl’s shooting death in Bacliff
- Weed company buys town in hopes of creating pot-friendly tourist destination
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls city governments the source of “all our problems in America”
- Man, 25, arrested for DWI after crashing into patrol car, deputies say
- Texas man snags “bucket list” 12-foot tiger shark off Padre Island
- Chauna Thompson, deputy terminated in wake of Denny’s choking death, appeals firing
- Humble ISD police officer accused of child pornography
- Angry woman robs cellphone store with large gun
- Dalia Dippolito discusses prison break in recorded jail call after recent conviction
- Tiny mermaid-painted shed drifted 200 miles in Gulf of Mexico
- Uber ride turns into nightmare for recent Texas A&M graduate
- ‘Sugar daddy’ banned from beaches after handing out provocative cards
- Business owners fight against crime in Chinatown
- 14-year-old girl clocked driving 107 mph during chase in Montgomery County
- Fight outside Spire Nightclub ends in crash, shooting
- When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids
- Guided bus tour of Houston’s strip clubs, massage parlors sheds light on human-trafficking business
- NASA looking to hire officer to protect earth from alien harm
- In Texas House, property tax proposals range from minor tweaks to abolishment
- Man exposes himself to woman outside fitness center, police say
- Man accused of robbing people who post items on buy, sell sites
- What it means for Texas colleges if Trump targets affirmative action
- ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl sentenced for stealing mother’s car, using her credit cards
- President Trump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia
- Wife shoots, kills husband after finding him with another woman, police say
- Humble restaurant employees accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls
- Family reunited with dog 3+ years after it went missing
- Angleton animal sanctuary facing fines after filing lawsuit
- Woman finds evidence bag full of marijuana at neighborhood park
- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes declines deal from Travis County District Attorney
- Report: Texas could lose billions if new immigration enforcement law stands
- Texas’ War on Local Control is Part of National Trend
- Wife of accused gunman dies after double shooting that led to innocent woman’s death
- ‘Ghost forests’ appearing from Canada to Texas
- Man charged after leaving crash that left motorcycle rider in critical condition, police say
- Flight in Vegas delayed by naked passenger, officials say
- Galveston’s Pleasure Pier ride Revolution shut down temporarily
- How often do shark attacks happen in Texas waters?
- Naked bank robbery suspect tosses stolen money
- Harris County officials continue crackdown on unlicensed after-hour bars
- Wife: Disagreement over Trump contributed to divorce from state attorney
- Kingwood native torches 8 cars after wedding called off, police say
- HPD officer hit by car, plunges 16 feet off Southwest Freeway
- Texas executes man who claimed his lawyers committed fraud
- Woman arrested on suspicion of posting ‘revenge porn’ online
- Statue honoring Alvin’s hometown hero, Nolan Ryan, topples
- Man arrested after showing porn to child at supermarket, authorities say
- Underage woman claims she was raped after being served at Houston-area restaurant
- The Woodlands teens accused of Florida crime spree after posting Snapchat videos
- La Marque residents asked to boil water after order issued
- Man who fled to Mexico after murder charge 21 years ago arrested trying to re-enter US
- Texas Senate passes bill to allow people to vote on whether a city can annex them
- Spring man caught filming up skirts arrested on child porn, invasive photography charges
- One-armed, machete-wielding clown arrested, police say
- Despite Knowledge of Climate Change in 1970s, Texas Utility Companies Funded Climate Denial
- Venus Williams accuses 78-year-old man killed in crash of not wearing seat belt
- Scammers target college students eager for scholarship money
- Woman accused of kidnapping baby while hitchhiking
- Every Texan in the U.S. House just voted for sanctions against Russia
- Man accused of producing child pornography
- Persistence pays off for rural Texans besieged by sky-high power prices
- Man accused of beating dog with crow bar
- 2 charged with prostitution after offering sex acts to undercover constables, authorities say
- Senate votes to start debate on health care bill
- Harris County pastor charged with sexual abuse of a child
- Trump’s New Immigration Lockup Draws Local Opposition in Conroe
- Set for execution, death row inmate alleges legal fraud in hopes of a stay
- Concerns raised over new Harris County bail system
- Crooks return to rob dentist office after police leave
- 2 throw drugs out window during high-speed chase, police say
- 5 arrested after drugs, gun, money seized from Magnolia home
- 15 years later, Clara Harris remains in state prison for husband’s murder
- Woman, 91, kicked out of Sunnyside home
- Congressman: If female GOP senators were South Texas men, I’d challenge them to a duel
- Turning Tail
- Death toll in San Antonio immigrant-smuggling case rises to 10
- Ex-Mexican drug cartel leader gets 30 years in US prison
- Kushner’s statement on Russia: What to know
- Analysis: In special session, Texas Senate’s the hare, House is the tortoise
- Texas Senate panel targets mail-in ballot fraud after high-profile case
- Drunk Driver Sentenced to 50 Years for Fatal Crash
- Tanker Crew Rescues 5 In Capsized Boat
- Man Sentenced to 45 Years on Drug Charges
- After Texas “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Patrick lauds sanctuary city law
- Charges possible in disturbing Florida drowning case
- Texas Senate committee OKs bill to outlaw city cellphone restrictions
- Texas Senate panel approves teacher bonuses, retirement benefits
- Carjacking suspect opens fire on officer during chase in SW Houston
- Man, 2 children killed in crash in NE Houston
- Katy woman arrested for DWI after man follows, records her erratic driving
- Mickey Mouse mask-wearing burglar caught on camera breaking into 2 stores
- Houston pastor Victoria Osteen says she does not endorse skin care product
- Senate committee passes bills on private school choice and school finance study
- Bill limiting city, county spending fuels war over local control
- Woman, 93, dragged during carjacking at church, police say
- Trans Texans, Advocates Swarm Texas Capitol to Oppose ‘Bathroom Bills’ (Again)
- Man admits to killing 14-year-old half-brother, authorities say
- Monkey on the loose in south Houston after attacking girl, police say
- ‘Million Dollar Ho’ arrested in Florida prostitution sting
- Turner reopens bids for recycling contract to 4 companies
- District attorney to pursue death penalty against 4 suspects
- Houston woman charged in connection with ransom scheme
- Pastor in The Woodlands accused of prostitution
- Academy Sports + Outdoors laying off 100 employees
- 1 dead after shooting at NW Harris County apartments
- Kay Bailey Hutchison vows toughness on Russia as NATO ambassador
- Conroe horse-riding trainer accused of sexually assaulting child
- Environmental groups sue EPA over lax Texas air pollution permits
- Abbott adds school finance, retired teacher benefits to special session
- Bodycam allegedly shows Baltimore cop planting drugs
- Key events in OJ Simpson’s fall from sports hero, movie star
- Heat is part of life at Texas prisons, but federal judge orders one to cool it
- Growing health trend bypasses doctors’ offices for diagnosis, treatment
- HPD chief answers questions about Josue Flores murder case
- Sarah Davis wants more information about “misconduct” at TABC
- Texas Bill Would Revoke Medical License of Doctors Who Perform Abortions
- Senate gives early OK to must-pass “sunset” legislation
- Lead singer of The Suffers featured in national campaign
- Man wanted in 2016 fraud case
- Couple arrested for second time for impersonating Adele’s manager, police say
- Mexico says electronic device checks on US flights begin
- Dancing with Denial
- Teen shot at high school party at AirBNB house in southwest Houston
- Toll road drivers getting fed up with erroneous charges
- Trump administration: Trust Texas on voter education spending
- Baby dies after being infected with cold sore virus through kiss, parents say
- 24 firearms stolen after Texian Firearms robbed twice in one day
- Texas Republicans in Congress process health care bill’s collapse
- Florida man arrested after reporting cocaine stolen, deputies say
- Teens arrested after Facebook Live video of 23-year-old woman’s assault
- Girl, 17, fires shot at intruder while chasing him out of her house
- Police: Aunt charged after leaving young neice, nephew in hot car outside grocery store
- Texas Senate moves to fast-track special session agenda
- President Trump: ‘Let Obamacare fail’
- Why the murder charge against the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards is rare
- What happens if Congress fails to repeal Obamacare?
- Four Texas Republicans in Congress were just outraised by Democratic challengers
- Angleton mulls proposal for RV park next to Stephen F. Austin statue
- Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security
- Texas Democrats lay out their own special session priorities
- Gov. Abbott says property taxes are his top issue for special session
- Small Government Crusader Wants $35 Million to Fix a Battleship in His District
- OJ Simpson faces good chance at parole in Nevada robbery
- It’s a Trump Miracle! There are Signs of Life Among Texas Democrats
- IBM ups the ante in fight against Texas bathroom bill
- At some Texas universities, students accused of rape can transfer without a record
- Gas pump overcharges customers in League City
- Father survives after van crushed by 7,000-pound scrap metal
- Two killed in crash during police chase in NE Houston, police say
- At tail end of Texas redistricting trial, judges skeptical of state’s defense
- After dissident’s death, Ted Cruz hopeful about changing Chinese Embassy address
- Harris County Toll Road Authority faces lawsuit over fees charged to drivers
- 1 killed in shooting at Bella Terra shopping center in Fort Bend County, deputies say
- On day 5 of redistricting trial, Texas refutes claim that current political maps discriminate
- Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment
- Second arrest made in death of 79-year-old Hedwig Village woman
- Greg Abbott’s Latino Problem
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formally launches 2018 re-election bid
- Licensing director is seventh official out at troubled Texas liquor agency
- Sketch released of man wanted in shooting that wounded 1-year-old
- Critics say Abbott catering to donors with special session priorities
- Former deputy constable facing sexual assault charges; other victims sought
- Man on Jet Ski catches goliath grouper off coast
- DPS trooper accused of prostitution
- Two arrested in connection with prostitution spas near The Woodlands
- MEET JOY: Baby elephant born at the Houston Zoo
- Revised Senate health care bill draws Cruz’s support but still short votes
- Heartbreakers in Dickinson and Jackie’s Brickhouse in Kemah Sued by Victim of Drunk Driver
- Galveston Yacht Captain Who Used Phony ID To Hide After Mysterious Deaths Is Sentenced
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proposes millions for teacher bonuses and retirement
- Texas Republican congressman calls on Trump to keep his kids out of White House
- Trump meeting with France’s Macron in Paris
- Beto O’Rourke posts $2 million in fundraising in bid against Ted Cruz
- As congressional races draw big interest, Democrats still filling out statewide ticket
- Lawmakers failed to end troubled Driver Responsibility Program
- Man sues city, HPD, officer after excessive-force arrest, lawsuit says
- Family escapes SUV after it catches fire, days after purchase
- In court, redistricting battle puts sharper focus on 2013 Legislature
- Push made for change in evaluation of parolees after repeated crimes
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission names lone finalist for new executive director
- U.S. Rep. Al Green joins California Democrat’s effort to impeach President Trump
- Police seek father suspected of causing brain injury to child
- 4 arrested during home invasion in north Harris County, deputies say
- NYC launches $32 million plan to reduce rat population
- Houston public works director placed on leave amid bribery case involving HCC trustee
- Prying Eyes: Border Sheriffs to Use Iris-Scanning Tech in Push for ‘Virtual Wall’
- Trump defends embattled son after Fox News interview
- Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti to get further competency review
- Firefighters demanding pay raise in line with police officer salaries
- Former housekeeper’s son accused in Hedwig Village woman’s murder
- Two women accused of attacking woman with a hammer
- Woman, children left devastated after husband murdered by ex
- New executive director appointed to troubled Texas liquor agency
- U.S. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz sidestep questions about Trump and Russia
- Don’t throw rocks in glass cars? Glass concept car unveiled
- Community removes basketball hoop from park due to profanity
- Tow truck driver finds father of 4 shot to death outside SW Houston apartments
- Susan Combs, Fierce Critic of Endangered Species Act, Tapped for Agency in Charge of its Implementation
- Harris County will not join suit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Report: Shopping for electricity is getting cheaper in Texas
- Jenna Bush Hager goes through astronaut training at NASA’s JSC
- Trump Jr. tweets email chain on meeting with Russian lawyer
- Beachgoers form human chain to rescue family in water
- Five New Laws that Will Likely Get Texas Sued (Or Already Have)
- Sketch released of woman sought in northwest Houston shooting
- Video shows police officer violently beating homeless woman
- Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications
- Trial over Texas political maps starts in San Antonio
- 2 charged with capital murder after shooting man during drug deal, dumping body, police say
- Astros reach All-Star break in midst of historic season
- Willie Nelson on the road again, coming to Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Centre
- Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SB 4 During Special Session
- Woman sought in shooting near Missouri City
- Shots fired at officers in southeast Houston, police say
- Man arrested after alleged road rage incident
- Report: Loopholes Allow Polluters to Get Away With Worsening Air Quality
- Corvette-driving North Carolina priest arrested in Florida road-rage incident
- Prosecutors: 12 people rescued after being locked in sweltering truck
- Abbott officially calls special session, allowing lawmakers to begin filing bills
- SWAT standoff at southeast Houston lounge turns out to be misunderstanding, police say
- Acting director of Texas liquor agency abruptly quits
- With 2018 election looming, Texas back in court over political maps
- This Texan’s daughter needed medical marijuana, so he moved to Colorado
- 11 teens hospitalized after eating drug-laced gummy bears
- Upcoming Area Live Music Shows thru August
- Man catches 1,033-pound hammerhead shark in Texas City fishing tournament
- Handcuffs couldn’t stop man from proposing to girlfriend
- Austinite and former intern for House Speaker Straus killed in Greece
- Counterprotesters outnumber, confront Klan supporters at Virginia KKK rally
- Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with CVA at town hall meeting in Houston
- Woman pleads guilty to voting twice for Donald Trump in US election
- Biker gang member added to Texas Top 10 fugitives by DPS:
- Mother charged with child endangerment after leaving 4 children in hot car, police say
- Harris County judge suspended without pay amid drug, prostitution allegations
- Blue bullfrog reported in Iowa
- Texans to be allowed to carry swords, machetes in public places:
- Cop accused of robbing dead man had other troubles…
- Inmate’s escape: Phones, wire cutters, a drone and $47,000
- Federal judge throws out effort by UT professors to overturn campus carry
- US economy rebounds, adding 222,000 jobs in June
- Warren Buffett unveils deal to buy big piece of Texas electric grid
- Celebratory gunfire enters child’s room at Oak Forest home
- Back home in Texas, Cruz confronts health care politics
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Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series about the declining participation in Texas’ summer meals programs for students. You can read the first story here.
REKLAW — Clara Crawford tapped the horn three times. Seconds later, two young boys ran down the steps of their house, their mother waving goodbye from the porch.
Each summer, most days of the week, the 86-year-old Crawford drives a 1995 Ford cargo van 35 miles to gather up about 20 hungry children in Fairview, an unincorporated community in Rusk County, and the neighboring city of Reklaw. She takes them to a program she runs at a local community center where they can play basketball in the hot sun and get a full lunch plus a snack.
In this sparsely populated part of East Texas, where some houses don’t have regular access to potable water, for seven years Crawford and her blue van have been providing a summer lifeline to kids who otherwise might be home alone and without a healthy meal.
The Texas Department of Agriculture administers a summer meals program providing federal reimbursement for school districts and nonprofits to give out meals to hungry children — but in recent years, the program has failed to draw students in, with July participation rates crashing by 20 percent in 2016.
Experts and even the state have had trouble pinpointing exactly why, but they cite lack of transportation as the main reason rural Texas kids can’t reach free summer meals available at hundreds of locations across the state. The federal government does not compensate school districts or nonprofits for getting students to and from the free meal sites.
Which is why folks like Crawford who are willing to drive kids to those meals are so important. Despite the tight pickup schedule, Crawford sometimes finds herself waiting several minutes longer than planned outside a particular house, hoping a kid will hear the honks and rush out. Most of their parents are working, or are stuck at home with illnesses or disabilities, she said.
“I hate to not get them if they want to come,” she said, peering over the steering wheel anxiously. Every summer, she considers giving up on this volunteer chauffeur gig. She’s old and doesn’t need the extra stress. But then she wonders: Who else would do it?
The need for volunteers like Crawford goes beyond this corner of East Texas. In the tiny Panhandle town of Quitaque, residents also struggle to find summer volunteers to help provide food to hungry children after the local school had to end its program. Rural communities across the state face similar challenges.
In Texas, more than 4 million people don’t always know where their next meal will come from, often resorting to skipping meals, buying less food or choosing between buying food and paying other bills. Though it’s decreased over the years, the percentage of people at risk of hunger in Texas is significantly higher than the national average.
Even in towns that have a summer meal program, “if a site’s half a mile from a kid’s home, they’re unlikely to walk up there, let alone five or 10 miles,” said Tim Butler, coordinator of child hunger programs at the East Texas Food Bank, which gets federal money to provide meals for program sponsors like Crawford who want to feed kids locally.
The food bank also pays for Crawford’s gas and vehicle upkeep through a privately-funded “rural transportation grant.” Without that extra financial boost, kids in Fairview might not make it to the community center.
The federal government used to offer similar transportation grants to rural organizations that sponsored free summer meal programs, but it ended them after 2008 when the funding ran out, calling them “cost inefficient” for supporting rural areas.
‘It used to be a big community’
A lifelong Fairview resident, Crawford is related to many of the kids in the area, or knows them well enough that they’re basically family. As she drove — never faster than a steady 45 miles per hour — she spun out the stories imprinted in the lush landscape crowded with pine trees. She pointed out the place where, at eight years old, she got paid $3 daily to plant tomatoes. The place where her dad drove a tractor on another man’s farm. And all the empty places left by folks who moved to the cities.
“There used to be a lot of people here. Now they let their trailers rot here. It used to be a big community,” Crawford said ruefully.
Larger school districts in East Texas don’t typically need someone like Crawford because they can usually offer their own programs, and sponsor others nearby. The East Texas Food Bank seeks to fill the smaller, more rural gaps across 26 counties and 20,000 square miles, in a region where one of every five adults and one in every four children is at risk of going hungry.
“There are tons of communities out there with little resources and low population,” Butler said.
Partnering with people like Crawford ensures the meal sites draw more kids, Butler said. “They know the people in the community. They know how to get something started. They know where the kids are.”
Besides the 20 kids Crawford drives to the community center, two or three wander over on their own, chattering and playing while the adults start to hand out food. At 14, Erica McCuin is one of the oldest in the room. She ends up watching over the younger ones, sitting and joking with them as they bite into cheeseburgers with whole grain buns and pick seeds out of orange slices.
She’s visiting her aunt for the summer two towns over and said without the program, she’d end up hanging around her aunt’s house. “I’d sit down and watch TV or play on my phone,” she said.
McCuin’s aunt, Savannah Williams, is one of three women who found out about the program through the local church and volunteer to run it. They said they’re determined to keep it going after Crawford someday turns in her car keys.
Panhandle volunteers try to restart summer meals
While volunteers in East Texas fight to keep kids fed, volunteers more than 400 miles away in a small Panhandle town are trying to bring back summer meals after the local school shut its program down.
In Quitaque — recently proclaimed the bison capital of Texas for its proximity to a herd of the shaggy beasts in neighboring Caprock Canyons State Park — a third of the 478 residents lives below the poverty line, nearly double the state average, according to recent Census estimates.
Kay Calvert wears a few hats for Quitaque, as a founder and president of the local emergency food pantry and assistant vice president at First National Bank. She’s working with a local teacher to apply for federal funding to start a summer meals site in Quitaque for local kids, to take some financial pressure off their parents.
Having lived in Quitaque most of her life, Calvert was ignorant of the depth of need in the community until she helped start the food pantry 13 years ago.
She fought back tears when she told the story of seeing a pair of young siblings cooking beans on the stove in a house otherwise empty of food. At another house, a volunteer for the pantry checked in on an elderly woman and found cat food in her fridge — and no cat in the house.
“I thought I knew our neighbors. I thought I knew everybody was OK,” she said. “Guess what? We don’t take care of our neighbors.”
Turkey-Quitaque ISD Superintendent Jackie Jenkins said the district stopped offering summer meals two years ago, around the same time it stopped hosting summer school for lack of funding. Before that, Jenkins drove a van taking kids home from summer school and bringing sandwiches and fruit to hungry kids who were not able to attend the summer classes. She knew parents were likely working in the fields and unable to drive kids even 10 miles to get lunch.
“We knew it would be hard for them to come out here, so we delivered them,” Jenkins said. But the federal program that paid for the district’s meal program didn’t cover those transportation costs. Now the closest program is in Memphis, a town almost 50 miles to the northeast.
Local food pantry is a lifeline
It’s not just students who need help getting fed. In Quitaque, where the tiny town center is surrounded by thousands of acres of red-dirt cotton fields, many residents are day laborers, cleaning homes and mowing yards in town or working on farms seasonally during the cotton harvest.
“There’s not enough work here in these small communities. But yet they want to raise their kids here because it’s the cheapest place they can live,” Calvert said. “They don’t want to go to the cities because they can’t survive in the cities.”
The local food pantry, Tri-County Meals, collaborates with the regional High Plains Food Bank to bring boxes of food each month to elderly people and families who are regularly deciding whether to pay for heat during the winter or buy groceries at the single store in town. The food bank trucks the food to an old fire station in Quitaque, and volunteers from three nearby towns haul it away for local distribution.
By noon, the floors and tables in the old station are piled high with boxes of all types of foods: organic baby spinach, bananas, croissants and other assorted breads, packages of Hamburger Helper (popular with the kids), giant frosted chocolate cakes.
The box of food Judy Myers and her brother Danny Barrett receive every month from the mobile food bank gets their family almost through the full 30 days. Myers, 55, a former prison employee, and Barrett, 57, a former mail carrier, both had to stop working because of chronic health problems. Myers has back and kidney issues; her brother suffers complications from diabetes.
They live together in a house that sits on 200 acres that’s been in the family for nearly a century. Myers has about $1,700 in pension payments coming in each month, and they both are applying for disability benefits.
Last Christmas was “really black in our house,” Myers said, sitting on her back porch with two kittens napping at her feet. “We had nothing at the time to cook with.”
They got an emergency food delivery through Tri-County Meals. In January, when her daughter Breanna turned 12, Myers asked the food pantry for cupcakes so Breanna could hand them out to her classmates.
But during the summer, Breanna is home from school, and Myers babysits her 2-year-old grandson — two extra mouths to feed during the day. Myers said she wishes the school district was still giving out free food in the summer, to take some of the pressure off her wallet.
Local kindergarten and first-grade math teacher Shadi Buchanan is working with Calvert to re-start a summer meals program in Quitaque, applying for reimbursement from the federal government.
But first they need committed volunteers. Parents and teachers already serve several roles for the school district, transporting kids to sports practices or teaching four or five different grades of a subject, because the district can’t afford to hire additional employees.
“It takes us all to run this village, and I think sometimes it’s overwhelming to say, ‘Here’s one more thing to do,’” she said.
Buchanan wants to run the program at two separate sites, one providing meals in Quitaque and the other in Turkey, so students don’t have to make the trek more than 10 miles to school for a free meal without a bus. Jenkins has her fingers crossed that enrollment will increase once school starts in late August since more students means more state money to spend on school programs.
In the meantime, Calvert and the rest of the team at the pantry will continue to serve as many families as possible, for as long as they have the money.
“They’re out there if we open our eyes and look. The need is out there,” Calvert said. “We can only do so much.”
Following the deaths of nine people in what police are calling a “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to Facebook Sunday to highlight the importance of cracking down on “sanctuary cities.”
Police found eight people dead in a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot early Sunday morning, with no air conditioning in the sweltering summer heat, according to the San Antonio Express-News. One later died in the hospital, and about 20 survivors suffered from heat stroke and dehydration. Some survivors identified themselves as Mexican nationals.
Patrick wrote the incident was indicative of why Senate Bill 4 is so important. The law, scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, requires local authorities to cooperate with federal immigration officials and allows police to ask about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain.
“Today’s tragedy is why I made passing Senate Bill 4 to ban sanctuary cities — which is now law — a top priority,” Patrick, a Republican, wrote on his Facebook page Sunday afternoon, with a link to an ABC News report. “Sanctuary cities entice people to believe they can come to America and Texas and live outside the law. Sanctuary cities also enable human smugglers and cartels. Today, these people paid a terrible price and demonstrate why we need a secure border and legal immigration reform so we can control who enters our country. We continue to pray for the families and friends of the victims.”
The cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and El Cenizo are among the local governments suing Texas over the law.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a formal statement with no mention of SB 4, instead highlighting the importance of a bill he signed to help the trucking industry report signs of human trafficking.
“The loss of these lives is a heartbreaking tragedy,” he said. “Human trafficking is an epidemic that Texas is working to eradicate. To that end, Texas will continue to provide protection for the victims who have been robbed of their most basic rights, and bring down the full weight of the law for the perpetrators of this despicable crime.”
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
The Senate Finance Committee Saturday approved a proposal Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listed as a priority for Texas education: providing bonuses and pay raises for long-term teachers, and reduced health-care costs for retired teachers.
The committee voted 10-3 to approve Senate Bill 19, authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, which would provide $193 million for teacher bonuses starting September 2018, put $212 million into state-run health insurance for retired teachers, and require school districts to increase teacher pay by $1,000 starting in 2019.
The senators who voted for the measure were Republicans; those who opposed it were Democrats. State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, was present but decided not to vote.
The full Senate could consider the bill as soon as Monday.
Educators and activists who testified opposed the part of the bill requiring districts to raise teacher pay, since it would not necessarily come with additional money from the state.
Nelson proposed borrowing money for the bonuses and health benefits from the Health and Human Services Commission, by deferring payments to health care companies that provide Medicaid through the state’s privatized system. “I will work to ensure that the deferral will not affect any services” for Medicaid, Nelson said.
She called SB 19 a “bridge” while legislators work to solve larger issues with the school finance system.
Legislators argued about whether, and how, to turn the short-term changes in the bill into long-term solutions to help teachers. With limited flexibility in the budget, which has already been approved by the governor, they are looking for creative ways to fund provisions they hope to pass during the special session.
Even with the additional money through SB 19, the state-run Teacher Retirement System will see a projected shortfall of $500 million to $700 million in 2020-2021, which will increase to $2 billion by 2022-2023, according to Brian Guthrie, TRS executive director. School employees have absorbed most of the healthcare premium increases over the years, with state and district inputs remaining close to fixed.
“We say we’re going to make a commitment, but we are also saying we’re not going to increase the state statutory contribution rate,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.
Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association, begged the panel not to let political debate get in the way of accomplishing TRS reform during the special session.
“I am almost begging you. Please do not let the session end with nothing happening,” he said.
“We are going to stay focused,” Nelson responded, despite likely disagreement with the House on how to pay for school finance issues. She called the House’s willingness to use the Rainy Day Fund, a pot of emergency cash for the state, a “false promise” and short-term solution.
Educators opposed the part of the bill that would require school districts to fund teacher pay raises, without the promise of state funding to help bolster the cost. “We don’t want to have to reprioritize money from within our districts to find money” for pay raises, said Tonja Gray, a member of the Association of Texas Professional Educators and a reading intervention teacher at Abilene ISD. “I would rather have nothing than this bill.”
“It’s this or nothing,” Nelson said. She argued there are ways to fund the pay raises, which would start in 2019. Legislators would have to decide how to fund the pay raises during the next legislative session.
Disclosure: The Texas Retired Teachers Association and the Association of Texas Professional Educators have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The Senate Education Committee got two major bills out of the way Friday, passing legislation that would create a “private school choice” program and start a commission to study the school finance system.
The committee voted 8-2 to pass Senate Bill 2, creating a tax credit scholarship subsidizing private school tuition for students with disabilities. It voted 10-0 to pass Senate Bill 16, which would task a 13-person committee of legislators and educators with developing recommendations on how to fix the beleaguered system for funding public schools before the 2019 regular session.
The bills could be taken up on the Senate floor as soon as Monday.
Gov. Greg Abbott listed both issues in his 20-bill agenda for the July-August special session, which the Senate has wasted no time in tackling, with several committees set to meet through the weekend.
Parents, educators and activists sat in front of the Senate panel from 10 a.m. until just after 6 p.m. to explain how subsidizing private school tuition for students with disabilities would sap resources from public schools, or how it would offer families a wider array of options.
Abigail Tassin, a 17-year-old Fort Bend ISD student with Down Syndrome, asked legislators not to pass the bill, instead urging them to focus on improving public schools’ resources for kids with disabilities.
“I want to be with everyone else,” she said. “Help my teachers be able to help me better.”
SB 2 is similar to several proposals that its author, Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, pitched to the Senate during the regular session. Insurance companies would receive premium tax credits in exchange for contributions to scholarship organizations.
An estimated 6,000 students with disabilities would receive up to $10,000 in scholarships to private schools under the bill. In addition, an estimated 26,000 eligible students with disabilities could receive up to $500, if they stay in their school districts, to pay for transportation or needed services. The tax credits for businesses would be capped at $75 million per year.
Tara Cevallos, principal of St. Austin’s Catholic School, said Catholic schools do not have all the resources to provide services for students with special needs, but that tax credit scholarships would help them. Private schools can provide a “niche approach,” because they have so few students, she said.
Taylor also added a few unrelated programs to the bill, including $60 million for charter schools, $60 million for facilities funding for traditional public schools, and $150 million for a hardship grant program for struggling small, rural schools that relied on a now-expired state aid program.
The $270 million for those programs would be borrowed from the Health and Human Services Commission, by delaying payments to health care companies providing Medicaid.
Sen. Bob Hall, R-Canton, said he was concerned about that “deficit spending,” before he voted yes on the bill. “I would hope that between now and when we get to the floor, we find a way to solve that problem,” he said.
Monty Exter, a lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said adding programs that school districts actually want to a “private school choice” bill prevents in-depth discussion of school funding. He said the bill would not help improve public schools for kids with special needs who decide to remain in that system.
“One of the biggest philosophical problems we have with this bill is that it changes the mentality from ‘Let’s fix the problems that we have’ … to saying, ‘Well, now we’ve provided you with this out,’ ” he said.
The committee took under an hour to hear testimony and approve a bill that would create a 13-member commission to study the school finance system. The commission would have four members appointed by the governor, four appointed by the lieutenant governor, four appointed by the House Speaker, and a member of the State Board of Education. It would deliver recommendations to the Legislature by Dec. 31, 2018, intended to guide lawmakers during the 2019 legislative session.
Policy experts who testified asked the bill’s author to make the commission more transparent about how it conducted the study.
“We would appreciate the opportunity to ensure that the public can in some fashion or procedure submit public comments to the commission,” said Steve Aleman, policy specialist with Disability Rights Texas.
Taylor said regular public input was unlikely. “Generally someone who just comes from the public, they have a very limited view of public education Texas,” he said. “I don’t foresee us having a public hearing every time.”
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.
Texas legislators could end up passing bills to reform the state’s school finance system and help out retired teachers this special session.
After the Senate voted early Thursday morning to pass a bill keeping several key state agencies alive, Gov. Greg Abbott immediately expanded the special session agenda by adding 19 items — and dramatically expanded the focus of two education-related priorities he had announced last month.
When Abbott announced his call for the special session in June, he said he would ask legislators to increase teacher pay by $1,000, and to establish a commission to recommend improvements to the beleaguered school finance system. The expanded call Thursday would allow legislators to pass bills improving a state-run health care plan for retired teachers and making major reforms to the school finance system, including the extension of a state aid program that would help mostly small, rural school districts.
The governor’s announcement came almost a week after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held an education-themed news conference to discuss school finance and teacher pay increases, a departure from his priorities during the regular session.
Patrick proposed a plan, funded through the Texas Lottery, that would provide bonuses for long-term and retired teachers, add $200 million to the Teacher Retirement System, and give $150 million to struggling small, rural districts that lost money through an expired state aid program.
Abbott’s additions of the new items appear to be a nod to the House, where his overall agenda is expected to face the most resistance. In a speech last month, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said legislators did not need a commission to tell them how to fix the school finance system, because they have already studied the issue at length. Abbott has pushed back against that notion, questioning why legislators have not come to a consensus if they have examined the issue so thoroughly. But the inclusion of retired teacher benefits, school finance reform and a fix for the expired state aid program in the final call looks like an overture to such skeptics.
State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the House public education chairman, welcomed the additions to the special session call — and said that school finance reform was particularly important for legislators to address.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to address this critical need for our children and parents,” Huberty said in a statement to the Tribune Thursday morning. “The House had made this a priority the last two sessions. I am glad the governor added this to the call as he recognizes we need school finance reform to accomplish property tax reform.”
Educator groups on Monday rallied in front of the Capitol against the governor’s agenda, demanding that the Legislature put more state money into public schools and reform the school finance system.
On Thursday morning, a number of House members took to Twitter to thank Abbott for listening to their chamber and adding their priorities to the call.
Huberty filed a bill this week — mirroring one he filed during the regular session — that would inject state money into public schools and simplify the formulas for funding them. It would also help small, rural school districts depending on the expired state aid program.
Several legislators in both chambers have filed bills to increase benefits for retired teachers.
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
With less than a week before the start of a special session of the Texas Legislature, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out a proposal Thursday to give teachers bonuses and increase their retirement benefits, with plans to pay for both long-term using money from the Texas lottery.
Patrick called a press conference to roll out his own priorities for the next 30 days and tear down the House’s plan for revamping a faulty school funding system as a “Ponzi scheme.”
Patrick’s plan, in part, would provide $600 to $1,000 bonuses to long-term and retired teachers, inject $200 million into the Teacher Retirement System, give $150 million to struggling small, rural districts, and provide $60 million for new facilities for fast-growth school districts and charter schools.
Over the next two years, Patrick said, $700 million to pay for the plan would come from a deferral of funds to managed care organizations. Over the long-term, $700 million would be directly allocated from the Texas Lottery if voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution to ensure that transfer of funds continues indefinitely.
Patrick called on school districts to reprioritize 5 percent of their funds over the next four years to increase teacher salaries. Districts, he said, “have to be better about how they spend the money. They have to put more focus on teachers.”
Mark Wiggins, lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said most schools don’t have the financial wiggle room to reallocate funding without additional money from the state. “We haven’t seen any of these proposals. That’s why it’s tough to say where our members would come out on them,” he said.
The House passed a bill during the regular session that would have put $1.5 billion into public schools, in part by deferring a payment to schools to 2019. Patrick Thursday called that budget trick a “dangerous political stunt” and a “Ponzi scheme.”
The Senate tacked a “private school choice” provision to the House’s school finance reform package, effectively killing both issues in the regular session, since House members oppose public subsidies for private schools.
House Speaker Joe Straus and top House education leaders have appeared before education groups in the last month, chastising the Senate for not approving key reforms to the school finance system and refusing to change their positions on controversial issues such as “private school choice.”
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a 20-item agenda for the a special session beginning on July 18, including several education issues that the House and Senate clashed over during the regular session. Patrick stressed Thursday that he supported all 20 items, while pitching a multi-layered plan beyond the governor’s agenda.
Soon after Patrick’s press conference, Abbott praised the lieutenant governor’s efforts.
“My office has been working with lawmakers in both the Senate and House these past six weeks, and if these items do not get passed, it will be for lack of will, not for lack of time,” Abbott said.
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The top House education leader said Sunday that “private school choice” is still dead in the lower chamber.
“We only voted six times against it in the House,” House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty said. “I’m prepared to have that discussion again. I don’t think [the Senate is] going to like it — because now I’m pissed off.”
Huberty, R-Houston, told a crowd of school administrators at a panel at the University of Texas at Austin that he plans to restart the conversation on school finance in the July-August special session after the Senate and House hit a stalemate on the issue late during the regular session. Huberty’s bill pumping $1.5 billion into public schools died after the Senate appended a “private school choice” measure, opposed by the House.
Huberty was joined by Education Committee Vice Chairman Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, and committee member Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, on a panel hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators, where they said they didn’t plan to give in to the Senate on the contentious bill subsidizing private school tuition for kids with special needs.
Gov. Greg Abbott has called legislators back to Austin for a July-August special session to tackle a hefty 20-item agenda that includes several public education issues that the Senate and House could not agree on during the legislative session. Huberty, Bernal and VanDeaver on Sunday refused to budge politically from where they stood on major education issues during the regular session.
“I pretty much stand where I stood then,” VanDeaver said.
Educators argue private school choice saps money from the public school system, while proponents say it offers low-income parents choices beyond the limited scope of the public education system.
That position could put the representatives in private school choice advocates’ crosshairs as they gear up for re-election in 2018. Huberty, already a target of efforts to unseat him in the next Republican primary, called it an “onslaught” against public education.
VanDeaver said educators have two options: They can give in to the Senate’s attempts to attach school finance and private school choice, or they can vote against legislators who want those issues linked.
“If you don’t stick up for yourselves in a real way … we are going to lose,” Bernal added.
Abbott put several public education bills on the special session agenda, to be addressed only after the Senate passes crucial “sunset” bills that would keep several state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, operating during the next budget cycle.
Huberty said providing public schools with additional revenue is the only way to decrease local property taxes, another priority of the governor on the agenda for special session. “I’m planning on filing a property tax bill that will address school finance,” he said.
Educators have argued school districts must push for higher taxes because the state is underfunding public schools.
Huberty said he did not know if he would re-file the exact same piece of school finance legislation the House passed in the spring. That bill simplified the formulas for funding public schools and injected $1.5 billion into public schools, in part by using a budget trick to defer a payment to public schools until 2019.
Huberty said the Legislature could still fund the bill by using that mechanism. “If there’s no money, I get it,” he said. “But we got a mechanism set up to be able to deal with it.”
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas Association of School Administrators have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.
SAN ANTONIO — Speaking to educators Wednesday, House Speaker Joe Straus took some jabs at the Senate for focusing on a bill to regulate public bathroom use instead of putting more than a billion dollars into public schools.
The lower chamber’s leading politician spoke about the upcoming special session to hundreds of school board members and superintendents in San Antonio on Wednesday evening at the Texas Association of School Boards’ annual summer leadership institute. He urged educators in the room to keep speaking out for the issues important to public schools — and to act.
“There have been a few of you who would make good members of the Texas Senate,” he said, a joke that got him a round of laughter and applause.
Straus’ appearance comes as Texas legislators prepare to return to the Capitol for a July-August special session, with a packed agenda of 20 pieces of legislation Gov. Greg Abbott wants to see passed. Several of those bills would directly affect public schools, including a bill to regulate public bathroom use for transgender Texans.
“I don’t know what all the issues are with bathrooms in our schools, but I’m pretty sure you can handle them, and I know that you have been handling them,” Straus said. He said the “bathroom bill” sends the wrong message about Texas, instead of “making decisions that attract jobs, that attract families.”
Abbott put several public education bills on the special session agenda, to be addressed only after the Senate passes crucial “sunset” bills that would keep several state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, operating next budget cycle.
He asked legislators to revive and pass two specific bills that died in the House — one that would create a commission to study school finance reform and one that would create a voucher-like state program to subsidize private school tuition and homeschooling expenses for kids with disabilities.
School finance reform and “private school choice” died in the same bill late during the regular session. The Senate voted to attach a private school choice program to a major House bill injecting $1.5 billion into public schools. That angered the House, which staunchly opposes subsidies for private schools. Neither side would compromise.
Straus said Wednesday that even if the House had compromised on private school choice, the Senate stripped about $1 billion in funding for public schools. “Even if we approved vouchers, they still cut out the vast majority of the funding we had proposed for public schools, so there was hardly anything left,” he said.
He said the school finance reform study was too little, too late. “The Texas House has been studying this for years. We already passed a bill that’s a very strong first step,” he said. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”
Abbott also put property tax reform on the special session agenda, pushing a provision the House excluded during the regular session to create automatic rollback elections when local property taxes rise by a certain amount.
Educators have argued school districts must push for higher taxes because the state is underfunding public schools. Before Straus arrived, Bret Begert, school board president of Fort Elliott CISD, explained that his property-wealthy school district sends a large portion of its tax revenue back to the state through a program known as “Robin Hood,” where wealthy districts subsidize poorer ones.
“We don’t mind sharing our money, but we don’t want to go broke doing it,” Begert said.
The Senate and House deadlocked on several issues during the regular session, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blaming Straus for blocking legislation that would restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans, cap property taxes and subsidize private school tuition for kids with disabilities.
Straus blamed the Senate for holding sunset measures hostage.
Abbott also added to the special session agenda two provisions that were not debated during the regular session. He called for a $1,000 increase in teacher pay and for more administrator flexibility on hiring and retaining teachers.
Public education advocates worry this means schools will be required to do more with less funding. The governor said in his special session announcement that the increase in teacher pay could be done by “reprioritizing” spending, without additional funding. He also said principals and superintendents need flexibility “to retain and to reward the very best teachers and to replace those who are ineffective.”
Linking those two issues does not bode well for public schools, said Dax Gonzalez, TASB assistant director of government relations. “Something that districts don’t want to get into the position of is giving raises to some by firing others,” he said.