Sophia Bollag

Recent Contributions

Tech Advances Have “Changed the Way We Will Respond”

While Hurricane Rita knocked out power in much of Southeast Texas, James Lee took advantage of a working outlet to charge his cellphone at a gas station at a Beaumont Walmart on Sept. 26, 2015.
While Hurricane Rita knocked out power in much of Southeast Texas, James Lee took advantage of a working outlet to charge his cellphone at a gas station at a Beaumont Walmart on Sept. 26, 2015.

With advances in meteorology, emergency management software and communications technology, state and local officials feel better prepared for the next big hurricane. This is part of our "Road From Rita" series, a collaboration with the Beaumont Enterprise.

Border Toll Roads Face Enforcement Issues

A vehicle with Chihuahua State, Mexico, license plates turning onto Loop 375 in El Paso on Aug. 20, 2012.
A vehicle with Chihuahua State, Mexico, license plates turning onto Loop 375 in El Paso on Aug. 20, 2012.

As El Paso prepares to open new toll roads, officials' inability to mail bills to Mexican drivers means only U.S. drivers will be required to pay.

Racing Commission Future Still Unclear

State Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick discussed the Senate's base budget plan at a Jan. 27, 2015, news conference.
State Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick discussed the Senate's base budget plan at a Jan. 27, 2015, news conference.

Unless lawmakers come up with a deal soon to keep it funded, the Texas Racing Commission is prepared to close down tomorrow. That means all Texas racetracks will be forced to close as well.

Parents to Be Guaranteed Right to Bury Stillborn Babies

Moved by the story of Erica and Joshua Raef of Amarillo, lawmakers passed HB 635, a law that guarantees parents the right to the remains of their unborn children, regardless of how small they are.
Moved by the story of Erica and Joshua Raef of Amarillo, lawmakers passed HB 635, a law that guarantees parents the right to the remains of their unborn children, regardless of how small they are.

Moved by the story of an Amarillo family, legislators passed a new law that will guarantee parents the right to the remains of their stillborn children. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

Otto Explains Maritime Museum Money Mixup

La Salle's Expedition to Louisiana in 1684, painted in 1844 by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin. La Belle, left, sank in present-day Matagorda Bay.
La Salle's Expedition to Louisiana in 1684, painted in 1844 by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin. La Belle, left, sank in present-day Matagorda Bay.

The mystery of a seemingly abandoned nautical appropriation in the state budget became clearer Tuesday, with a key legislator saying the $200,000 intended for a non-existent maritime museum got tangled in a miscommunication. 

Bland's Mother Sues DPS, Waller County

Screenshot from Department of Public Safety dash cam video shows Sandra Bland as she exits her car after DPS officer Brian Encinia has drawn his taser on July 10, 2015.
Screenshot from Department of Public Safety dash cam video shows Sandra Bland as she exits her car after DPS officer Brian Encinia has drawn his taser on July 10, 2015.

Alleging that Sandra Bland's "rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States" were violated, Bland’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and several law enforcement officers.  

 

Buried Treasure: The State Budget Hides a Mystery

La Salle's Expedition to Louisiana in 1684, painted in 1844 by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin. La Belle, left, sank in present-day Matagorda Bay.
La Salle's Expedition to Louisiana in 1684, painted in 1844 by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin. La Belle, left, sank in present-day Matagorda Bay.

Lawmakers approved giving $200,000 to a community college that doesn't want it to fund a maritime museum that doesn't exist, and now the Legislative Budget Board may scuttle Gov. Greg Abbott's bid to reclaim the loot.

Barratry Charges Against Ron Reynolds Downgraded

Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, during a House Environmental Regulations Committee on April 16, 2013.
Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, during a House Environmental Regulations Committee on April 16, 2013.

Felony charges against state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, were dropped Friday and replaced with misdemeanor charges.

Challenged Vetoes Leave $200 Million in Limbo

Gov. Greg Abbott at the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin on May 4, 2015.
Gov. Greg Abbott at the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin on May 4, 2015.

With varying degrees of concern, a smattering of government offices and institutions around the state are waiting to learn the fate of more than $200 million in funds that the governor might — or might not — have excised from the state budget.