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Freshman Samantha Salas (center) hangs out with friends before going to class on the first day of school on Aug. 25, 2014, at South Texas College's Pecan Campus in McAllen.
Freshman Samantha Salas (center) hangs out with friends before going to class on the first day of school on Aug. 25, 2014, at South Texas College's Pecan Campus in McAllen.

For Community Colleges, a Chance to Grant More Four-Year Degrees

Ahead of the 2015 legislative session, momentum seems to be building for more chances to earn four-year degrees at community colleges in Texas. Certain bachelor's degrees are already offered at South Texas CollegeMidland College and Brazosport College.

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A History of Texas Governor's Race Debates

Abbott Opinion Murky on Plastic Bag Bans

An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.
An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.

Plastic bag bans in Texas cities such as Austin and Laredo may be legally sound, according to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott's office handed down on Friday afternoon — that is, as long as they didn't ban bags for the purposes of "solid waste management."

Texas Hospitals Say They've Lost Insured Patients to Urgent Care

Eighth-grader Montanique DeShay waits as Ashlyn Brooks, medical assistant at MedSpring Urgent Care in Austin, comes to check on her on Wednesday. Like many patients visiting urgent care facilities at this time of year, Montanique is having a physical evaluation performed to allow her to participate in sports this school year.
Eighth-grader Montanique DeShay waits as Ashlyn Brooks, medical assistant at MedSpring Urgent Care in Austin, comes to check on her on Wednesday. Like many patients visiting urgent care facilities at this time of year, Montanique is having a physical evaluation performed to allow her to participate in sports this school year.

The increasing number of urgent care centers in Texas is proving problematic for hospitals, which say they are competing with the clinics for the same pool of insured Texans at a time when they are also getting less money to cover the cost of treating uninsured patients.

Swelling School Districts Find a Costly Way to Grow Within State Debt Limits

Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment.  District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.
Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment. District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.

Leander and other fast-growing school districts have relied heavily on a controversial financing tool called capital appreciation bonds to borrow money to expand even as they bump up against state limits on school district debt. 

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National Guard Troops on Border Struggling Financially

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Judge Strikes Down Texas Abortion Regulation

An abortion procedure room at the Whole Woman's Health ambulatory surgical center in San Antonio.
An abortion procedure room at the Whole Woman's Health ambulatory surgical center in San Antonio.

A federal judge on Friday struck down new requirements for Texas abortion facilities — a decision that could have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state. The standards were set to go into effect Monday.

 

Space Travel Companies Compete for NASA Contract

SpaceX CEP Elon Musk, right, shows his delight on the return of the Dragon spacecraft as NASA chief Charles Bolden, left, listens on June 13, 2012.  SpaceX is considering building a spaceport in south Texas for future launches.
SpaceX CEP Elon Musk, right, shows his delight on the return of the Dragon spacecraft as NASA chief Charles Bolden, left, listens on June 13, 2012. SpaceX is considering building a spaceport in south Texas for future launches.

Four private space travel companies, including two with ties to Texas, are competing for a NASA contract that will have them ferrying astronauts to space "like a taxi." NASA will announce the winner of the contract in the coming weeks.

Taxpayer Tab Grows for Perry's Defense

Gov. Rick Perry talks with New Hampshire voters at a morning GOP rally in Stratham, NH on Aug. 25, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry talks with New Hampshire voters at a morning GOP rally in Stratham, NH on Aug. 25, 2014.

The state tab for Gov. Rick Perry's criminal defense, previously thought to be $80,000, has hit $133,000. Perry has said he will pay for his lawyers with campaign money from now on.  

On Border, Questions Over National Guard Troops' Needs

Governor Rick Perry gives a pep talk to National Guard troops training for deployment to the Texas border at Camp Swift on August 13, 2014.
Governor Rick Perry gives a pep talk to National Guard troops training for deployment to the Texas border at Camp Swift on August 13, 2014.

Democrats say media reports that some National Guard troops on the border haven't been paid and can't afford basic necessities are infuriating. Republican Gov. Rick Perry's office says the National Guard is fully equipped to help them.