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    High School Students Will Take Fewer State Tests

    Under House Bill 5, students entering high school this fall will take 10 fewer state exams than their classmates two years ahead of them. The old law required 15 state standardized exams to graduate. Now, students will need to pass only five. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a month-long look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

     

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    Matt Bitsche, chief engineer and head brewer at Infamous Brewing Company, inspects a pint of beer for clarity, aroma and overall carbonation in the glass, Jul. 12, 2013.
    Matt Bitsche, chief engineer and head brewer at Infamous Brewing Company, inspects a pint of beer for clarity, aroma and overall carbonation in the glass, Jul. 12, 2013.
    Craft Breweries Seeing New Doors Open

    Texas' craft brewers are facing the biggest legislative overhaul the industry has seen in 20 years. News laws are letting them expand sales of their products. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    State Awaits Federal Guidance to Drug Test Jobless Texans

    Texans working in the transportation and health care industries are among those accustomed to taking drug tests as a condition of employment. Under a new state law, they will soon be subject to such screening if they lose their jobs and must seek unemployment benefits. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

      

     

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    Pictured is a sexual assault evidence collection kit used by law enforcement throughout Texas.
    Pictured is a sexual assault evidence collection kit used by law enforcement throughout Texas.
    Money for DPS to Help With Backlog of Rape Kits

    Thousands of untested rape kits are likely to get processed for DNA evidence after state budget writers included $11 million for the effort in the 2014-15 budget. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Students in Yvonne McDaniel's Reading English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, class participate in English-language exercises during summer school at McAllum High School in Austin, Texas, Jul. 31, 2013.
    Students in Yvonne McDaniel's Reading English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, class participate in English-language exercises during summer school at McAllum High School in Austin, Texas, Jul. 31, 2013.
    New Council to Focus on Extended Learning Programs at Schools

    The state’s new Expanded Learning Opportunities Council will be charged with developing a statewide action plan to improve and create extended learning opportunities in public schools. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Proxy Marriage Limits End Inmate Weddings

    A new constraint on proxy marriage in Texas that is intended to prevent fraud will have a secondary effect: It will end inmates' ability to get married while incarcerated. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a month-long look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1.  

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    Dental Board's Review Process Gets Makeover

    After hearing critics take aim at the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, legislators approved new regulations that they hope will improve the board's efficiency.  This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1.  

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    One of two 911 dispatch phones in the Rockdale Police Department in Rockdale, TX.
    One of two 911 dispatch phones in the Rockdale Police Department in Rockdale, TX.
    Extra Cash Means New Equipment for 911 System

    The Texas Legislature increased the Commission on State Emergency Services' budget by 33 percent. Much of that extra funding will go toward updating its 911 system, which serves 224 of the 254 counties in Texas. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Laurie Griffin holds a photograph of her daughter Courtney outside the offices of state Rep. Elliott Naishtat on July 23, 2013.  Griffin's daughter was killed by a driver who left the scene of the 2011 accident.  Griffin has worked with Naishtat to pass news laws in Texas regarding certain hit-and-run cases.
    Laurie Griffin holds a photograph of her daughter Courtney outside the offices of state Rep. Elliott Naishtat on July 23, 2013. Griffin's daughter was killed by a driver who left the scene of the 2011 accident. Griffin has worked with Naishtat to pass news laws in Texas regarding certain hit-and-run cases.
    In an Accident, Drivers Have New Reasons to Stay

    With new laws increasing the penalties for drivers involved in hit-and-run fatalities or those who fail to stop and render aid, advocates hope there is more incentive for drivers to stay at the scene of accidents. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Meningitis Vaccine Rules Scaled Back at Colleges

    Fewer college students will be required to have meningitis vaccinations, and new rules also make it easier for some students to opt out of the vaccinations. Community college administrators are praising the changes. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Christopher J. Churchill, a biologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, displays several zebra mussels found along the shoreline of Lake Ray Roberts, near Sanger, Texas, Jul. 18, 2013.
    Christopher J. Churchill, a biologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, displays several zebra mussels found along the shoreline of Lake Ray Roberts, near Sanger, Texas, Jul. 18, 2013.
    Boater Education Courses Target Invasive Species

    One way that invasive aquatic species like the zebra mussel can spread across Texas waterways is via boats that aren't cleaned. New legislation will require boater education courses to address the importance of boaters cleaning the vehicles. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Hard Copy Not Required: Law to Let Drivers Show Insurance on Phones

    Motorists in Texas will soon be allowed to use their cellphones to show proof of insurance during traffic stops. Proponents of the legislation say that the law will increase at the efficiency at those stops. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Jenny Black RN, SANE-A, CA-SANE and Executive Director/Coordinator, Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners shows a sexual assault evidence collection kit at St. David's Medical Center.
    Jenny Black RN, SANE-A, CA-SANE and Executive Director/Coordinator, Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners shows a sexual assault evidence collection kit at St. David's Medical Center.
    More Hospitals to Collect Sexual Assault Evidence

    All Texas hospitals with emergency rooms will soon be required to have staff trained in at least basic collection of forensic evidence from sexual assault victims. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1.

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    Biggest Ethics Reforms Died on Governor's Desk

    A few minor ethics measures passed in the 83rd legislative session. But the real story is what didn’t happen — the legislation that might have changed the information available to voters who’ll be making decisions about candidates. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    State Board of Education Will No Longer Approve Charter Applicants

    For the first time since the charter school system was created in 1995, the state education board will no longer play a central role in determining which charter school applications get approved. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

     

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    David Rockwell, 64, a Navy Vet who served in the Vietnam War, laughs with friends while other participants in the family night gathering dance in the background. The family night was put on by the Military Veteran Peer Network and held in Palestine, TX, Aug. 3, 2013.
    David Rockwell, 64, a Navy Vet who served in the Vietnam War, laughs with friends while other participants in the family night gathering dance in the background. The family night was put on by the Military Veteran Peer Network and held in Palestine, TX, Aug. 3, 2013.
    Amid Growing Mental Health Concerns, Veterans Help Veterans

    The Military Veteran Peer Network's roughly 1,000 Texas veterans have overcome mental illness, or at least learned to manage it. Their mission now is to help other veterans, and the 83rd Legislature recognized the value of the volunteer network to the state’s growing veteran population. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

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    Redistricting Plan Set, But Legal Debate Isn't Over

    Lawmakers passed a new set of congressional and legislative maps in their first special session. Redistricting has been a long and contentious process, and it is probably far from overThis story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Some Worry New DNA Law Will Create Delays

    Lawmakers this year approved a bill requiring DNA testing in death penalty cases. The measure aims to prevent wrongful convictions and save the state from costly appeals. Some prosecutors, though, worry that more testing could simply delay a guilty defendant’s inevitable conviction. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

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    New Education Training to Promote Mental Health Intervention in Schools

    Under new training requirements passed in the regular legislative session, teachers, administrators and staff will undergo mental health intervention training intended to inform educators about recognizing mental and emotional disorders in the classroom. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

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    Poor Texans' Electric Bills to Dive, Then Go Back Up

    The Legislature ensured that a fund to help poor Texans with their electricity bills went to its intended purpose. But it also agreed to empty the fund by 2017. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

     

     

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    Reuse Program to Focus on Equipment Purchased With Medicaid Dollars

    The Health and Human Services Commission will create a program to promote the resale of certain equipment that was purchased with Medicaid dollars. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    New Voting Law Aims to Curb Ballot Harvesting

    Lawmakers, who usually get bogged down in controversy over election laws, passed a mail-in ballot measure that Republicans and voter-advocacy groups agreed will help crack down on "ballot harvesting." This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    TxDOT employees Brad Shepard and Canaan Johnson finish up after putting asphalt cold mix down for edge repairs on Interstate 35-S near Parmer Lane on Monday August 19th, 2013.
    TxDOT employees Brad Shepard and Canaan Johnson finish up after putting asphalt cold mix down for edge repairs on Interstate 35-S near Parmer Lane on Monday August 19th, 2013.
    New Law Aims to Protect TxDOT Road Workers

    Texas drivers will have to slow down or move over one lane when passing Texas Department of Transportation workers under a new law aimed at protecting their safety. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    A Seventh New Name for Texas State University

    Texas State University-San Marcos will be officially renamed for the seventh time since its founding in 1903. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Evidence Specialist, Richard Castro, shows a firearm held as evidence by APD. The Austin Police Department’s evidence and seized property storage facility contains thousands of firearms from handguns to assault rifles dating back as far as the 1970s.
    Evidence Specialist, Richard Castro, shows a firearm held as evidence by APD. The Austin Police Department’s evidence and seized property storage facility contains thousands of firearms from handguns to assault rifles dating back as far as the 1970s.
    Law Enforcement Can Sell Confiscated Guns

    For decades, weapons confiscated by police in Texas were supposed to be repurposed for law enforcement use — or else destroyed. Starting next month, some will be available for purchase. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

     

     

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    New Laws Alter Health Care Policies in Texas

    State lawmakers approved a wide range of measures in the 83rd legislative session that will affect Texans' medical care. Use this interactive to take a closer look at 31 ways those new laws will change Texas health policy. This is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Southern plains bison from the Goodnight heard are raised for meat on Hugh Fitzsimons's SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.
    Southern plains bison from the Goodnight heard are raised for meat on Hugh Fitzsimons's SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.
    New Law Protects Bison Alongside Cows, Llamas

    Texas animal owners can rest assured that their cows, pigs, horses — even rhinos and elephants — are protected under the state's agriculture code if they wander off their property. But until the most recent legislative session, bison were not safe. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    Students listen to their instructor, Curtis Collins, during their Pumps, Compressors and Mechanical Drives class at Texas State Technical College Waco.
    Students listen to their instructor, Curtis Collins, during their Pumps, Compressors and Mechanical Drives class at Texas State Technical College Waco.
    Job-Training Program Adjusts Amid Cuts

    The Jobs and Education for Texans program, which focuses on training students in fields like high-tech manufacturing and computer support, is undergoing changes. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

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    School Officers Can No Longer Issue On-Campus Misdemeanor Citations

    Offenses like using profanity and fighting have led some Texas public school students to the courtroom. Under a new law, school police officers will not be allowed to charge students for such offenses. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series. 

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    Kori Polston, 20, a UT student undergoes an indoor tanning session in an ultraviolet tanning bet at Aruba Tan salon in Austin, Texas, Aug. 27, 2013.
    Kori Polston, 20, a UT student undergoes an indoor tanning session in an ultraviolet tanning bet at Aruba Tan salon in Austin, Texas, Aug. 27, 2013.
    Minors Can No Longer Use Tanning Salons

    This year, Texas joined several other states that ban minors from tanning indoors. Senate Bill 329, which takes effect Sept. 1, overrides a previous law that allowed certain minors — those between 16 ½ and 18 — to tan with parental consent. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives.

     

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    More Schools to Take Part in Breakfast Program

    Public schools in which 80 percent or more of the students are eligible for a free or reduced-price meal must offer a free breakfast to all students starting this school year. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives.