New threat to Texas vineyards: herbicides

In Texas, the nation’s leading cotton producer, growers welcome the arrival of more weapons to fight the invasion of the cotton-strangling weed Palmer amaranth, better known as pigweed. But the prospect of heavy-duty chemicals drifting from cotton fields has spawned fears in the state’s burgeoning wine industry, from the sprawling vineyards of the High Plains to the boutique wineries in the Hill Country.

Migrants are being squeezed harder

Desperate migrants long have fallen victim to criminal gangs, but the recent splintering of drug cartels, especially along the border, has accentuated their vulnerability. As top-ranking capos have been captured, lower-level members of gangs turned to smuggling, kidnapping and extortion of migrants as an indispensable source of income.

Immigrants here study their new legal path

Things suddenly looked different on Friday. Rivas was planning to gather the paperwork she needs to prove she’s the mother of U.S. citizens and has been in the country for at least five years — becoming one of millions of immigrants who could qualify for a work permit under President Obama’s decision to defer deportations and give them legal status. Officials say nearly 5 million immigrants will be affected, the vast majority of whom are here illegally but are the parents of citizens or legal residents.

Lawmaker spoke to grand jury after making TRWD complaint

The water district, which provides raw water to 98 percent of Tarrant County, is also building part of the $2.3 billion Integrated Pipeline Project through Henderson County, which will bring water from East Texas reservoirs to Dallas-Fort Worth. Gooden said he testified before the grand jury in September. He said that he cannot talk about his testimony because of grand jury rules but that he believes the water district tried to block his access to some information. The grand jury’s term ends Dec. 31 but could be extended.

No-bid Texas Medicaid fraud contracts raising questions

As Texas’ top health officials steer $110 million in no-bid contracts to an Austin tech company they say is revolutionizing Medicaid fraud investigations, the state’s top contract manager says those contracts are too loosely written and raise questions about what taxpayers are receiving in return.

The Downside of the Boom

Since 2006, when advances in hydraulic fracturing — fracking — and horizontal drilling began unlocking a trove of sweet crude oil in the Bakken shale formation, North Dakota has shed its identity as an agricultural state in decline to become an oil powerhouse second only to Texas.

Still at Abbott's Side, Hodge Readies for a New Role

Little known outside the halls of Texas government, Daniel Hodge, 36, has spent his entire professional career working for Greg Abbott. In so doing, he has become one of state government's more powerful behind-the-scenes figures. That's only becoming more true: He's expected to serve a key role in the incoming governor's administration.

Texas unlikely to turn blue anytime soon: Q&A with author, GOP strategist Wayne Thorburn

Almost as if on cue given a sweep of Republican victories across the state this month, the University of Texas Press has released “Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics,” written by Wayne Thorburn, 70, who was executive director of the Republican Party of Texas when the state elected its first Republican governor in 104 years. H

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 11/17/14

Batheja on school district property tax breaks; Ura's look at San Antonio's political springboard; Satija's investigation into the health effects of drilling; Aguilar's look at the Texas effects of Obama's executive action; Malewitz visits a rebuilding West; M. Smith on the latest wrangling over history textbooks; Langford's report on Rick Perry's prosecutor: Emily Ramshaw with the best of our best content from Nov. 17-21, 2014.

American Airlines Mulls Headquarters Move Year After Merger

  • suggested by Aman Batheja

The airline may decide to leave Fort Worth, Texas, where it has been based since 1979, or opt to do nothing, Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said after a speech today to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. It’s been rare in the U.S. industry for a carrier to shift base to another city.

Texas reporters fight for access to fracking facts

AUSTIN — Earlier this month, the residents of Denton, Texas—located on one of the country’s largest natural gas reserves and home to some 275 gas wells—voted to ban fracking. The ban was a first for a city in Texas, where fracking has enabled an oil and gas boom; the state now accounts for one-third of the United States’ natural gas production. In this period of boom and blowback, the state agencies that regulate the oil and gas industry here are perhaps more important than ever—and, according to frustrated reporters, increasingly impenetrable.

Analysis: In the Texas House, a Dose of Moderation

As the numbers mount in favor of House Speaker Joe Straus' reelection, the establishment wing of the Republican Party in Texas appears to be prevailing over activists who insist the state is more conservative than its Legislature.

Reaction to Train Plan Less Rosy in Rural Texas

A private company's plan to spend billions of dollars to develop a bullet train connecting Dallas and Houston has drawn strong support from the two cities. But reaction from communities along the 240-mile route has been mixed.

Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Who You Think They Are

In a prime-time address on Thursday, President Obama laid out his plan to grant work permits to millions of unauthorized immigrants, as part of a broader overhaul of immigration enforcement. Obama says he has the legal authority to carry out the policy without congressional approval, although Republicans are already making plans to fight the changes.

Drilling Brings Rise in Health Complaints

While drilling for oil and gas has exploded across Texas, residents and environmental advocates allege that state regulators haven't kept up with complaints about negative health effects. Regulators say they've stepped up enforcement, but dispute that airborne emissions from oil and gas drilling pose a threat to health. This story is part of our Shale Life project.

The Brief: Right and Left Critique Obama Immigration Action

Right and left critique Obama immigration action; Drilling brings rise in health complaints; In San Antonio, ambitions rise for Hispanic Democrats; Reaction to train plan less rosy in rural Texas; Analysis: In the Texas House, a dose of moderation; Former Senator, UT counsel Ray Farabee passes away.

TxDOT’s D-FW high-speed train proposal off the rails, skeptics say

A handful of North Texans criticized state plans for a high-speed train between Dallas and Fort Worth late Thursday, saying the project makes little sense given that it’s only 32 miles between the cities. The opposition came during a Texas Department of Transportation meeting seeking input about the high-speed plan. The agency is studying the cost and feasibility of such a line, with the aim of connecting it to a private company’s planned bullet train from Dallas to Houston.

Hispanic Voters Are Important for Republicans, but Not Indispensable

Just about every post-2012 analysis found that the Republicans needed to do better among Hispanic voters in 2016. Whether politicians agree with that assessment might shape their reaction to Mr. Obama’s decision, and might even underlie Mr. Obama’s decision itself. Yet a close look at demographic data and recent election results suggest that the Republicans do not necessarily need significant gains among Hispanic voters to win the presidency.

Watered-down FOIA bill advances

  • suggested by John Reynolds

A bill aimed at strengthening the Freedom of Information Act cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday on a unanimous vote after being watered down in order to try to speed passage of the legislation in the lame-duck congressional session. Despite the change, open government groups are still backing the measure because of other reforms in the legislation.