Mexican Drivers May Avoid Tolls on El Paso Toll Road

A vehicle with Chihuahua State, Mexico license plates turning onto Cesar Chavez Border Highway/Loop 375 in El Paso, Texas on August 20, 2012.
A vehicle with Chihuahua State, Mexico license plates turning onto Cesar Chavez Border Highway/Loop 375 in El Paso, Texas on August 20, 2012.

El Paso is facing an unusual problem as it prepares for its first toll road. Drivers without electronic toll tags will be sent a bill in the mail, and some are wondering if Mexican drivers will get a free ride.

A Year Later, Tracing the Roots of the Central Texas Wildfires

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An almost completely burned sign stands amid rubble at Bastrop State Park on Sept. 13, 2011.
An almost completely burned sign stands amid rubble at Bastrop State Park on Sept. 13, 2011.

As the anniversary of last year's Central Texas wildfires draws near, KUT News and StateImpact Texas revisit what led to the worst fires in state history, and how the state has changed since last summer.

Courting Controversy Works for Louie Gohmert

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, is shown at the annual alumni Aggie Muster on April 21, 2012, at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, is shown at the annual alumni Aggie Muster on April 21, 2012, at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has a knack for propelling himself into headline-grabbing controversies, is a favorite target of comics and liberal commentators. But in his district, he is seen as a devoted advocate for his constituents’ values.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 8/20/12

Grissom profiles the lawyer investigating the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton, Tan reports on access to abortions in the Rio Grande Valley, E. Smith interviews three U.S. senators on Todd Akin’s rape comments, Root notes the relative absence of Texans on stage at next week’s GOP convention, Ramshaw on potential changes to Medicaid fraud investigations, Hamilton looks into free online courses from elite universities, Batheja interviews Phil Wilson about high-speed rail and paying for roads, Aguilar on whether certain immigrants can get Texas driver's licenses, Aaronson maps the scarcity of healthy food and Dehn’s Weekend Insider looks at a Texas lawmaker and a Texas lawyer: The best of our best from Aug. 20 to 24, 2012.

Two Chancellors Reflect on a Year of Higher Ed Reform

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa and Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall
University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa and Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall

This week, both Brian McCall, chancellor of the Texas State University System, and Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, celebrated the one-year anniversaries of their plans for reforming their systems.

Senate Hearing Tackles Vouchers, School Choice

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.

In a preview of a likely battle in the upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers on Friday heard testimony on school choice programs, including vouchers that would allow students to use public money to attend private schools. 

Juvenile Justice Board Hires New Agency Leader

The Texas Juvenile Justice Board on Friday voted to hire Michael Griffiths to be the next leader of the youth justice agency as it struggles to improve security and safety at its juvenile correctional facilities.

The Search for a Less Unpopular School Tax

Some officeholders have raised the idea of replacing Texas' property tax with a larger sales tax. But that could create some new fiscal challenges.
Some officeholders have raised the idea of replacing Texas' property tax with a larger sales tax. But that could create some new fiscal challenges.

As the state and its independent school districts head to court again in October to debate school financing, it's still possible that the issue of a statewide property tax could be revisited.

Checkpoints Deter Illegal Immigrants Seeking Abortions

U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, Aug. 14. Illegal women seeking a second trimester abortion at clinics on the other side of the station are wary of trying to cross. A large sign shows drivers how many drugs and undocumented aliens have been seized in the last year.
U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, Aug. 14. Illegal women seeking a second trimester abortion at clinics on the other side of the station are wary of trying to cross. A large sign shows drivers how many drugs and undocumented aliens have been seized in the last year.

Women in the Rio Grande Valley who are seeking a second-trimester abortion must travel several hours north to access the procedure. Illegal immigrants face an additional hurdle: getting past internal checkpoints.