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Texas Students Win, Greg Abbott Loses: School Finance Funding Unconstitutional

by: Katherine Haenschen

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 06:59 PM CDT

The long-awaited ruling over the 2011 Republican Legislature's $5.4 billion cuts to public education came out today, and Texas students and teachers were victorious.

Judge John Dietz ruled the school funding scheme unconstitutional because it failed to adequately provide for students' needs and provide equal opportunity.

The ruling is a direct blow to Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office defended the cuts in the courts. He could have ended the case at any time, and instead waited for today's decision to come down. Abbott can now appeal the decision to the Republican State Supreme Court.

Read more about the ruling below the jump.

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Wendy Davis Pledges to Make College More Affordable, Expand Technical Training Programs

by: Natalie San Luis

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

On Tuesday, Senator Wendy Davis announced her plans to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Texas students.

Her approach would help keep tuition in check, improve graduation rates, and facilitate technical training for students who choose not to attend a four-year university.

"We made this state strong by investing in our schools and making them affordable," said Senator Davis. "At the very time when we need an educated workforce to lead the economy of the future, we need to put quality education within reach for Texas families."

Read more about Wendy Davis' higher education proposal after the jump.

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Texas Ethics Commission Sidelines Greg Abbott; Puts AG Back in Perry Indictment Spotlight

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 02:30 PM CDT

The Texas Ethics Commission is seeking $150,000 for outside council in a lawsuit against the unelected Tea Party leader Michael Quinn Sullivan because it doesn't trust Attorney General Greg Abbott to hold his close friend accountable.

The Attorney General is tasked to represent state agencies, but the Ethics Commission seems to think the relationship between MQS and the Attorney General's office is a little too close for comfort, and I mean, they are the state's ethical watchdog.

See more on the MQS connection and why the Commission is right in be concerned below the jump...

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Republican State Senator Admits That Republican Legislature Is Failing Texas

by: Katherine Haenschen

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

Republican State Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler has publicly admitted what Democrats have been saying for years: Republicans are failing Texas.

Citing a litany of infrastructural improvements from water to roads, Eltife emphasized that Republicans are catering to the Tea Party base rather than responsibly addressing the needs of Texans.

In an interview with the Longview News-Journal editorial board, Eltife essentially gave a seminar on the way in which anti-tax Republicans are driving up state debt by outsourcing our state's basic needs.

Read more about what the Republican Senator had to say below the jump.  

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Texas Teen Won't Serve 99 Years For Hash Brownies, But Still Faces Multiple Felony Charges

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

It turns out that Jacob Lavoro, the Williamson County teen who got busted baking pot brownies with hash oil, won't serve that 99 year sentence after all.

A grand jury refused to indict him on the most serious charge that would have included the full weight of the brownies (flour, chocolate, eggs, butter, etc.) as a controlled substance instead of just the 2.5 grams of hash oil that he used -- a difference of over 650 grams.

The Williamson County DA's office told KVUE earlier this month that if they reduced the charges it would be because it was standard procedure and would have nothing to do with public outcry or the nearly 250,000 change.org signatures gathered by supporters of Lavoro.

See what he the grand jury actually indicted him with below the jump...


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Historic Proposal for Affordable Clean Energy Will Save Austin Average of $13 Million Annually

by: Public Citizen of Texas

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 08:56 AM CDT

(Saving money while saving the planet -- what's not to like?  Let's hope the Austin City Council shows the good sense to pass the Affordable Energy Resolution. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

undefinedToday, Austin City Council will consider an historic energy proposal from Council Member Chris Riley that would save Austin millions while demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to renewable energy.

The resolution calls for Austin Energy to bring more than 600 megawatts of solar power, enough to power more than 100,000 homes, to its portfolio, phase out the Decker gas-fired power plant and set goals to generate more than 60 percent of its power from renewable sources and eliminate its carbon pollution by 2030.

In addition to the diverse support behind Council Member Chris Riley for his proposed Affordable Energy Resolution, Public Citizen’s analysis shows that a key component of the plan is economically sound.

Learn more about the true numbers behind the resolution below the fold.

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Wendy Davis Emphasizes Her Commitment to Education Funding As School Starts

by: Katherine Haenschen

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

Monday in Houston, Wendy Davis marked the beginning of the public school year by emphasizing her commitment to public education.

In 2011, Wendy Davis filibustered a budget that cut $5.4 billion from public education, and in 2013 she voted against a budget that failed to restore sufficient funds.

Unlike Rick Perry, Wendy Davis would have vetoed a budget that slashed $5.4 billion from our Texas public schools. Attorney General Greg Abbott, on the other hand, continues to defend the cuts in our courts system.

Joined by education leaders, Davis gave a moving speech Monday about the value of education and how it prepares students for a better future.

Watch a video of Wendy Davis's remarks below the jump!

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Buy Your Back-To-School Books With BOR's Amazon Referral Link

by: Burnt Orange Report

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

For all of you headed back to school this week and planning to purchase books through Amazon, please consider using BOR's referral code. We'll get a share of your total purchase at no added cost to you.

Click here to purchase your books -- or anything else -- on Amazon using our referral link.

This is a quick and easy way to support Burnt Orange Report, and make sure that we can keep providing the progressive coverage you rely on.

After all, if it weren't for Burnt Orange Report, what progressive blog would you read while goofing around on your laptop during class??

Click here to purchase your back-to-school supplies on Amazon using our referral link.

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Tens of Thousands of Texans are Losing their Cars to Predatory Auto Title Lenders

by: Emily Cadik

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

As part of their weeklong Bypassed by the Miracle series, the Texas Tribune takes a look at the tens of thousands of Texans who have lost their cars as a result of predatory auto title lending.

Auto title lenders are similar to payday lenders, except they use car titles as collateral. If the borrower defaults on the payments, the lender can repossess the car and sell it to repay the outstanding debt. Like a payday loan, auto title loans carry very high interest, are laden with exorbitant and often hidden fees, and are issued without regard to the credit of the borrower. The people who take out payday and auto title loans are low-income, with an average income of $26,000. On average, they renew their auto title loan eight times, eventually paying $2,142 in interest for $941 in credit, according to a report from the Center for Responsible Lending.  

Because of a lack of other options, low-income borrowers essentially sign over their highest value asset for a few hundred dollars - and then end up accruing massive debt and potentially losing their cars.

Read about auto title lending in Texas - and efforts to regulate it - after the jump.

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New Rules Proposed To Address Fracking And Earthquakes At Texas Railroad Commission

by: Joe Deshotel

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM CDT

The fact that fracking for oil and gas may be causing earthquakes puts some legislators in an awkward position pitting their land-owning constituents against the oil and gas industry.

The Energy Resources Subcommittee on Seismic Activity met this week to discuss new rules proposed to address the connection between hydraulic fracturing and the seismic activity that has been taking place more frequently near disposal wells.

Small town mayors in the affected area of North Texas say they are grateful the issue is being addressed but believe these proposals should only be a "first step."

See what the state's recently hired seismologist had to say...

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Women's Suffrage in the Lone Star State - A Storied History and A Disappointing Present

by: Genevieve Cato

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

Women in Travis County register to vote for the first time in 1918
Today is the anniversary of women's right to vote. On this day in 1920, the 19th amendment went into effect and women officially gained the right to vote across the country. Suffragists had been working in Texas for decades long before the national amendment granted all American women access to the ballot box.

You've probably heard of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul - but have you heard of Minnie Fisher Cunningham? She was one of the leaders of the suffrage movement in Texas, and she fought with many women (and some men) to ensure that Texan women could have a say in their government. But how many women still exercise that right?

More on the history of women's suffrage in Texas and the legacy of Texas women's right to vote - and what women's votes mean for Texas' future - below the jump.

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Texas Pastor Calls For Removal of "Demonic" Twilight Books From Library

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

There's at least one person who's not torn between Team Jacob and Team Edward.

A Cleveland, Texas pastor has called for the removal of the popular Twilight series from the local library, claiming that the "sexual element" and "creatures that aren't human" are dangerous for young readers.

Missick also thinks teens should have parental approval to check out such books. Currently, library policy requires parental consent for minors to get a library card.

Read more below the jump.

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Lilith Fund 2013 Report: Abortion Access Barriers Met With Generous Donor Support

by: Natalie San Luis

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

Despite the devastating attacks on reproductive justice from the state legislature in 2013, grassroots organizations and their supporters are working harder than ever to ensure that Texans have access to abortion funds.

The Lilith Fund, an organization that provides abortion funds to Texans in need, recently released their annual report for 2013.

"We received an unprecedented outpouring of support in the past year, with donations coming from all over the country as people watched in horror at the cruelty being inflicted on Texans needing abortions," Lilith Fund reported. "Despite the generosity, we watched our clients experience greater hardships as clinics closed and doctors were unable to provide services to those most in need."

Read more after the jump.

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Wendy Davis' Second TV Ad Focuses on Greg Abbott's Lack of Oversight of Cancer Research Center

by: Joseph Vogas

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Manuel Alvarado, pictured above with his two children, narrates his cancer survival story in Wendy Davis' new ad
Wendy Davis has launched her second tv ad in the 2014 race for governor of Texas. In the ad, Manuel Alvarado, a cancer survivor from Fort Worth, narrates his struggles of surviving and overcoming the deadly disease. He quickly pivots to Greg Abbott who was in charge of overseeing the state cancer research fund. Readers will recall the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has been under investigation for favoring services from those who were political donors to Governor Rick Perry. Many of those donors who had allegedly not been completely screened are now major donors to Greg Abbott.

The ad accuses Greg Abbott's donors of using their favorable political standing with the Attorney General to profit with funds which were meant to help find a cure for cancer. The ad further promotes the message that Greg Abbott has used his elected position to act as another powerful insider, only working to serve those who can afford access to him.

See Wendy Davis' latest hit against Greg Abbott after the jump.

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Rep. Elliott Naishtat Hospitalized After Bike Accident But In Good Spirits - Sign His Card!

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat was hospitalized following a bicycling accident in Minnesota, but fear not -- the progressive champion is on the mend and in good spirits.

During the annual bike ride at the National Conference of State Legislators held this year in Minnesota, Naishtat hit a guard rail hard and punctured his calf which resulted in severe swelling and internal bleeding.

Thankfully Naishtat is expected to make a full recovery and be back here in Austin shortly.

Help us welcome him home -- below the jump, sign our get well soon card for State Rep. Elliott Naishtat!

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

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