TribWire

Swindlers Target Kin of Migrants

The federal government is investigating how detailed information about migrant children being held at two American military bases wound up in the hands of con artists who are using it to lure unsuspecting relatives into paying hefty sums to reunite their families, preying on people who have been separated for years, according to the F.B.I.

Insurers owe millions in refunds to Texas policyholders

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday released a list of health insurance companies that owe Texans nearly $14 million in refunds for violating a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits the amount of money that can be spent on executive salaries and other administrative expenses. The so-called 80/20 rule offers protections to people who have purchased health insurance coverage through their employers or on the individual market.

House committee scrutinizing Texas foster care

A legislative committee examining ways to better-protect children in Texas' foster care system is convening for the first time since two foster children drowned over July 4th weekend. The House Select Committee on Child Protection meets Thursday. The state's 17,000-child foster system has been under scrutiny since seven children in foster care died of abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2013.

Fast-growing school districts eye bonds to meet demands

Several of the Houston area's biggest suburban school districts are getting bigger, inviting a flurry of bond proposals for new schools, expansions and renovations - and even a scaled-back version of a football stadium that voters previously rejected. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, the third-largest school district in Texas, passed a $1.2-billion bond in May. Now, Fort Bend and Katy, as well as smaller districts like Lamar Consolidated, are looking to the November ballot for help in addressing rising enrollment and crowded schools.

After death of Texan in Gaza, lone soldiers continue fight

They are called "lone soldiers," Jews who leave their homes around the world to serve, and fight, and sometimes die, for Israel. Their stories have hit home in Texas since Israeli forces entered Gaza earlier this month, ostensibly to destroy Hamas tunnels. But bloody fighting ensued and casualties have mounted.

Republicans push for deporting child migrants quicker

Republicans and Democrats are pushing competing proposals to address the surge of children arriving at the southern border, dimming the prospects that lawmakers can reach a quick agreement. Led by Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, a group of House Republicans unveiled a plan Wednesday to speed the removal process for the immigrants and to bolster security. Senate Democrats are calling for roughly $2.7 billion to address the crisis, but their proposal does not include any of the policies recommended by the GOP group.

Drivers in Dallas, across state pay price for aging highways

Texans have dodged higher federal and state gas taxes for decades, but it doesn’t mean their wallets are getting any fatter. A study from a transportation nonprofit released Wednesday said aging roadways and continued traffic congestion cost drivers in the state more than $25.1 billion every year. Research group TRIP concludes that those conditions lead to vehicle maintenance costs, lost time, increased gas consumption and other expenses that annually cost the average North Texas driver $1,740.

States Against E.P.A. Rule on Carbon Pollution Would Gain, Study Finds

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma are among the most vocal Republican skeptics of the science that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, but a new study to be released Thursday found that their states would be among the biggest economic winners under a regulation proposed by President Obama to fight climate change.

House Republicans release plan to address border crisis

A group of House Republicans unveiled their plan Wednesday to combat the southern border crisis, calling for National Guard troops and a faster deportation process from the Obama administration. The group is recommending that a 2008 law be updated to treat children from Central America the same as minors from Mexico or Canada.

Will Rick Perry’s get-tough border policy play well among GOP voters in Iowa? We’ll know soon

We’ll know soon enough if Rick Perry’ decision to put National Guard troops on the border will be a hit or a miss with all-important Iowa voters. The Texas governor will be in Iowa for four days next month, preparing the way for another White House run in the state that launches the presidential sweepstakes. Perry has events booked from Saturday, Aug. 9 to Tuesday, Aug. 12, The Des Moines Register is reporting.

Rick Perry digs deeper roots in influential Iowa

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be in Iowa for four days next month, digging deeper roots in the presidential testing grounds. Perry, who is considering a White House bid in 2016, has events booked from Saturday, Aug. 9, to Aug. 12, organizers told The Des Moines Register Wednesday.

Extending marriage to same-sex couples could add $182 million to the Texas economy

Extending marriage to same-sex couples in Texas could generate $181.6 million for the state economy, according to a study released today by the Williams Institute, a liberal think tank that’s part of the University of California School of Law in Los Angeles. The money would come from same-sex couples spending to arrange their weddings and out-of-state guests buying goods and services in Texas. The $181.6 million economic boost includes $14.8 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers, according to the report.

Texas ag commissioner candidate Sid Miller uses campaign funds to fix his pickup

Using campaign contributions, agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller spent over $5,300 on repairs and maintenance for the personal pickup he uses for campaign travel. Miller, the Republican nominee, spent more than $3,800 in June to repair a faulty fuel exhaust filter and more than $860 at Discount Wheel and Tire in January. At least seven other expenditures in his campaign finance disclosures to the state were related to vehicle maintenance.

Texas Is Wired for Wind Power, and More Farms Plug In

By any standard, the scale is enormous. Anywhere else, a big transmission project is a few hundred miles long and costs a few hundred million dollars; this is a network of 3,600 miles built at a cost of $7 billion, which is more money than the whole country has spent on transmission in some recent years. It comes to about $300 per person served by the Texas grid. Nationally, transmission infrastructure is built only when circumstances demand it; in Texas, however, lawmakers have ordered an “if-you-build-it, they-will-come” approach.

Congress dithers on migrant agreement

  • suggested by John Reynolds

House Republicans and Senate Democrats don’t agree on much when it comes to addressing the massive influx of young migrants crossing the Texas border. But senior figures in both parties are privately in sync on one critical point: Legislation addressing the crisis won’t become law until September at best — if a bill ever makes it off Capitol Hill at all.

Cruz warns House colleagues: Don’t let Democrats fool you

  • suggested by John Reynolds

Sen. Ted Cruz is urging House Republicans to reject legislation addressing the border crisis, arguing that passing a bill through the lower chamber would play into the hands of Senate Democrats. The Texas Republican’s move to sway GOP lawmakers will hamper any House effort to pass a border bill before Congress adjourns for its summer break at the end of next week.

Editorial: Awesome options for UT chancellor

The University of Texas Board of Regents finds itself in an unusually strong position as it weighs the field of candidates to succeed outgoing Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. Two top options are of exceptional caliber with a level of skill sets rarely seen in the academic world.

Child immigrant facility stays after hotel plan scrapped

A San Antonio-based organization will continue to operate a Harlingen shelter for undocumented immigrant children after it pulled its plans to move to a bigger shelter at a Weslaco hotel, an official said Tuesday. BCFS Health and Human Services will keep open its nearly 300-bed shelter at 3700 E. Harrison Ave., spokeswoman Krista Piferrer said.

Texas lawmaker wants legal ruling on slot-machine like devices

A controversial proposal to allow “historical racing” — the replaying of already-run races on slot machine-like devices — in racetracks statewide may have hit a stumbling block this week. State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott this week asking him to review whether the Texas Racing Commission has the authority to allow these machines in Texas horse and dog race tracks.