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President Barack Obama Visits With Texas Families Helped By The Affordable Care Act

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

When President Obama was in Austin recently for the Civil Rights Summit, he spent time speaking with Texas families who had received health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. These families had previously written the President about how the ACA had helped their lives.

"You saved our son's life," stated a clearly emotional man whose son was able to stay on his policy through age 26 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

A video of the gathering was posted on the White House YouTube channel as part of their "Letters to the President" series.

The video is a poignant reminder of how much President Obama actually cares about providing regular American folks with health insurance, and the tangible benefits people have received from quality, affordable coverage.

Watch it below the jump and hear what President Obama had to say about the Texas legislature.

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Friday Wrap: Houston ISD Changes Offensive Mascots, and More...

by: Burnt Orange Report

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

It's Friday! Time for your Burnt Orange Reporters to close some browser tabs and touch on the issues of the week.

First up this week, the DNC put together this video:

Our new video 'Law and Disorder: Republican Governors Unit' questions the Republicans' promises of "leadership" while being plagued by scandals - from Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" and Scott Walker's "John Doe I & II" to former Governor Bob McDonnell's indictment, Nathan Deal's ethics investigation and Rick Perry's case before a grand jury.

Below the jump, Brittany Griner reflects on Baylor, Manischewitz's new owner, and more...

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Wichita Falls to Recycle Toilet Water into Drinking Water

by: Natalie San Luis

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

Nope, it's not a two-weeks-late April Fools' joke: The city will be recycling 5 million gallons of "potty water" into (hopefully) clean and (fingers-crossed) drinkable water.

The decision to reuse the wastewater comes after existing restrictions have reduces waster usage by half.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested the water for 41 days to ensure that it is safe.

Read more about potty water after the jump.

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CD-23: Rep. Pete Gallego Dominates Republican Opponents in 1Q 2014 Fundraising Report

by: Joseph Vogas

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego is in position to overwhelm his Republican opponents
Freshman Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego is showing other Democrats how to establish oneself in a district with a slight conservative lean. Candidates for federal office must file fundraising reports every three months and disclose their donors as well as how much money they have taken in and remains in their bank accounts. Because Texas had its primary in early March, federal candidates also had to file pre-primary reports in February. While the reports from most other states show the amount raised from January 1 to March 31, the reports from Texas for this quarter will show the amount raised from mid-February to March 31.

In the 47 days remaining of the first fundraising quarter of 2014, Rep. Gallego raised $273,424.56. This is the second most of any congressional candidate still running for office in Texas. Rep. Gallego raised this much money without his campaign taking on any debt.

His Republican opponents, including a former congressman, did much worse; and national prognosticators are beginning to notice they are having trouble keeping up. Click after the jump to see how much worse and what the opinion leaders in DC are saying about Rep. Gallego's chances of re-election.

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New Poll: Texans Agree with Democrats on the Issues, Democrats Must Continue to Tell our Story

by: Joseph Vogas

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

Voter engagement, telling the Democratic Party's story, can make the difference this November

Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the second half of their Texas poll on Thursday afternoon. The second half of their poll included polling on several issues as well as possible 2016 Presidential match-ups, including voters opinions on Presidential runs by Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry.

PPP took the opportunity to ask Texans what their opinions were on raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, and whether men and women should be paid the same for equal work. In all of these issues polled, the respondents agreed with the positions largely adopted by Democrats and progressive minded individuals. The rub comes when realizing this is the same poll that found Greg Abbott was leading Sen. Wendy Davis in a head-to-head matchup for Governor. In the analysis of the first part of this poll, I concluded the voters were not inclined to support Democrats only because many were not familiar with the candidates. The same is true on the issues.

This poll is a reminder that Democrats represent the values that matter to working people throughout Texas, but that message has not been heard by enough voters nor has the case been made as to why candidates matter and what a good elected official can do to create positive change.

Click after the jump to see how many Texans agree with Democrats on the issues and how few Texans want Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry to run for President as well as how they and other Republicans would fare against Hillary Clinton in Texas for the 2016 Presidential election.

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Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Exceed Expectations, Confound Republicans

by: Emily Cadik

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT

Yesterday the president announced that 8 million people have gotten health insurance through the federal marketplace, easily surpassing the original goal of 7 million. Combined with those who have enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, the young people who have been able to stay on their parents' health insurance and those who bought plans outside of the marketplace, the total comes to 14 million people who are ensured because of the Affordable Care Act.

The president is calling the results something that Democrats should "forcefully defend and be proud of" heading into the 2014 elections. And he kicked it off by taking a more forceful approach himself. "They said no one would sign up. They were wrong about that," he said in a press conference. "They are wrong to try to repeal a law that is working."

See why we are a nation of procrastinators after the jump.

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Texas Cities are Some of the Most Economically Segregated

by: Emily Cadik

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

Texas cities may be major engines of growth, but they are also some of the most segregated in the country in terms of human capital and income inequality.

A recent article in Atlantic Cities looks into the geographic segregation of highly educated people (defined as having a Bachelor's degree or higher) across every census tract in the U.S.

As it turns out, of the top ten large metro areas where highly educated people are the most segregated from other groups, two are in Texas: the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area and the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area. But looking at the map, you can see that basically every large metro area in Texas has a high level of human capital segregation.

In general, educated people are pretty segregated in major cities across the board. But why does education segregation happen more in some places than others?

Find out after the jump.

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Orange County, Texas Proclaims April "Confederate History & Heritage Month"

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

Orange County, Texas Commissioners are under fire from some residents for a proclamation that declares April "Confederate History and Heritage Month." It is the 5th time in as many years that the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been granted their request.

The proclamation caused intense reaction from the community, some reported by local media and much more can be found in the comment section of their reports. One of the prevailing arguments made by supporters was essentially "If there is a Black History Month, there should be no complaints of a Confederate History Month." Yep, they went there, and still others pushed the fallacy that the Civil War had nothing to do with the "peculiar institution" of slavery. That, of course, is what SCV wants everyone to believe.

In 2010 the group held a Sesquicentennial Event to "celebrate the beginning of the Confederacy" by marching in Montgomery, Alabama along the same route that Martin Luther King Jr. led Civil Rights protesters down in the 1965 march from Selma. SCV says it's mission is to ensure Americans remember the Civil War in the "right way."

See what SCV means by the "right way" below the jump...

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Boats N' Hoes PAC and the GOP: A "Pattern of Disrespect" for Texas Women

by: Genevieve Cato

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

On Wednesday, the internet exploded with news that an employee from a Republican consulting firm - that has worked with Donna Campbell, Greg Abbott, and Dan Patrick - started a PAC of his own: Boats n' Hoes PAC. The move drew criticism from Wendy Davis, the Texas Democratic Party, and news outlets across the state. Now, the Texas Tribune reports, the employee has been asked to shut down the PAC.

The closure of the offensive PAC is a small victory in the war against sexism in the Texas GOP. To look at this as a singular act of one member of the party is to miss the environment that leads an employee at a consulting firm - who is arguably more informed of his party's positions than the average voter - to create the PAC in the first place.

More on the GOP's tone-deaf approach to women below the jump.

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Mystery Fliers Calling For UT Regent Wallace Hall's Resignation Distributed To Legislative Offices

by: Katherine Haenschen

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM CDT

Legislative staffers found a surprise waiting under their office doors yesterday.

Fliers calling on embattled UT Regent Wallace Hall to resign were slid under all 181 House and Senate office doors at some point in the last 48 hours.

The fliers urge Longhorns to unite in calling for Hall to resign. The fliers have no disclaimer or attribution.

Hall is in hot water for his open-records witch hunt against UT President Bill Powers, as well as the perception that he does Rick Perry's bidding on the UT Board of Regents, which oversees the state's flagship university system. Last week, a special report prepared for the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations found that Hall had committed impeachable offenses.

Click below the jump to see the fliers calling for UT Regent Wallace Hall's removal from office.  

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Congressman Joaquin Castro Talks Higher Education, Paul Ryan Budget In #UMatter Twitter Town Hall

by: Omar Araiza

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT

Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) participated in the #UMatter Twitter town hall on higher education, answering concerns about how Paul Ryan's new Republican budget affects Texans wishing to attend college.  

Castro answered questions from students tweeting at him and using the hashtag #UMatter, many questioning whether they could even attend college due to their social economic status and lack of financial resources at home.

Read what Joaquin Castro had to say about the unnecessary obstacles placed by Republicans on students below the jump.

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New Gun Safety Organization Launched To Directly Counter National Rifle Association

by: Joe Deshotel

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:30 PM CDT

A year after the Senate majority blocked a bill that would have required background checks for commercial gun sales, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayor's Against Illegal Guns have announced a new umbrella effort called "Everytown."

The idea is to compete directly with the National Rifle Association on membership numbers and lobbying efforts.

The local Chapter of Moms Demand Action made their announcement at Austin City Hall today and were met by protesters from Open Carry Texas, a group that supports the open carry of handguns.

According to Everytown's website:

Everytown connects survivors to each other, creating a vital network of people who support one another and work together to make change. Everytown also acts as a resource to survivors, educating them about gun laws and the policy-making process so they can take more effective action together.

Click below the jump to see who pledged $50,000,000 of their own wealthy to kick start Everytown...

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One Year after West, Texas: One in Ten Students Attends School in the Shadow of a Risky Facility

by: SaraSmith

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM CDT

(Thanks to Sara Smith from Texas PIRG for this important guest post. - promoted by Burnt Orange Report)

One year after the fertilizer facility explosion in West, Texas, which destroyed and severely damaged nearby schools, an analysis by the Center for Effective Government finds that nearly one in ten American schoolchildren live and study within one mile of a potentially dangerous chemical facility.

The analysis, displayed through an online interactive map, shows that 4.6 million children at nearly 10,000 schools across the country are within a mile of a facility that reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Risk Management Program. Factories, refineries, and other facilities that report to the program produce, use, and/or store significant quantities of certain hazardous chemicals identified by EPA as particularly risky to human health or the environment if they are spilled, released into the air, or are involved in an explosion or fire.

See how many Texas residents are at risk from toxic chemical disasters after the jump.

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Julian Castro Wipes Floor With Dan Patrick In Televised Immigration Debate

by: Omar Araiza

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 01:30 PM CDT

Last night, the Texas Tribune and Univision 41 (link in Spanish) televised the much anticipated immigration debate between San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Texas state Senator Dan Patrick, likely Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

The debate covered multiple issues concerning immigration, such as border security and the Texas DREAM Act -- and even some other issues, including Asian terrorists, "anchor babies," choice, and gay marriage, that Patrick decided mid-debate somehow pertained to the discussion.  

Seemingly missing from the debate was moderator Evan Smith, Trib CEO and Editor-in-Chief, who allowed Patrick to talk over Castro throughout the debate and did not correct Patrick when he used misleading information as facts. Thankfully, Mayor Julian Castro was there to fact-check Patrick and keep him honest about his awful immigration record.

Read the highlights of the debate below the jump.

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Tea Party Texans Said What? New Poll About Funding Texas Education Has Surprising Answers

by: Genevieve Cato

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

Along with the issue of equal pay, education is front and center in the statewide races this election cycle. Wendy Davis, Greg Abbott, Glen Hegar, and Dan Patrick are counting on their education policy platforms to turn voters out in November. Education is not only an election-cycle issue. The last two legislative sessions saw education funding take center stage in battles over the budget.

All of the candidates and campaigns know how important education is to Texan voters - but are they really saying what Texans want to hear? A recent poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune may have the answers - and they might surprise you.

More on Texans' positions on education and implications for statewide campaigns below the jump.

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
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