State government

The Weekly TribCast: Episode 38

Evan returns for this week's TribCast, in which the podcast gang takes up campaign finance, the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry's taxes and the committee shakeup in the Texas Senate.

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The "Career" Path

Private, for-profit colleges, which offer professional certificates at a steep cost, have come under fire for peddling big student loans to vulnerable Texans in exchange for credentials of dubious value.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

The Off Switch

Rather than building new power plants just to meet peak electricity demand on hot summer afternoons, why not just persuade people and companies to use less electricity? "Demand response" is quickly taking hold in Texas.

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Follow the Money

The mid-year campaign finance reports reveal which races have the attention of the political players. They're a down-in-the-weeds look at where the fights will be this fall.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom's three-part series (here, here and here) on prosperity and peril along the U.S.-Mexico border, Hu on the Division of Workers' Compensation audit report, Stiles puts more than 3,000 personal disclosure forms filed by politicians, candidates and state officials online, M. Smith on attempts to curb the practice of barratry (better known as ambulance chasing), Ramsey interviews the chair of the Texas Libertarian Party, Hamilton on attempts to improve the success rates of community colleges, Galbraith on whether electric deregulation has helped or hurt Texans, Aguilar talks to a chronicler of the bloody narco-wars and Ramshaw on doctors who most often prescribe antipsychotic drugs to the state's neediest patients: The best of our best from July 12 to 16, 2010.

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 Jacob Villanueva

TribBlog: Suspending Driver Suspensions

The Texas Public Safety Commission on Thursday approved changes to the Driver Responsibility Program that would include an amnesty program for drivers with outstanding surcharges, reduced fines for poor drivers and new incentives to encourage more people to pay up.

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 Todd Wiseman

"This Report Backs Us Up"

State auditors found muddled chains of command, missing files and a massive backlog of cases when they dug into the enforcement process at the Division of Workers' Compensation, according to a report released Thursday. The findings support the claims of former employees who exited the division this year amid complaints of stalled action on dozens of cases against workers' comp physicians accused of abusing the system.

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 Texas Senate

TribBlog: "The Rumor Mill in Austin is Very Efficient"

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, says he's talking to the Texas A&M Universtity System about a vice chancellor's job there, but says the issue is "unresolved," and that the public conversation about his intentions "is really premature." That said, he's already talking about how he'd leave office.

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 Bob Daemmerich

Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire

Texas has long been a “tough on crime” state, but there has been a movement in recent years to change the system known more for its executions than for its rehabilitations. Robert Perkinson talked with Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune about the history of the state’s prison system and the possible changes ahead.

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 Mark P. Jones

Mark Jones: The TT Interview

The chairman of the political science department at Rice University recently ranked Texas House members' partisanship based on their 2009 legislative votes. Our interactive chart highlights what he describes as Texas' increasingly polarized political environment.

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TribBlog: New Doc at Workers' Comp

After the exodus of at least half a dozen employees and swirling questions about its lack of enforcement against unscrupulous doctors, the Division of Workers' Compensation has put a new man in charge of the investigations. The former executive director of the Texas Medical Board, Dr. Donald Patrick, started Monday.

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 Bob Daemmrich

TribBlog: Not Cool With School

Texans overwhelmingly reject the way the State Board of Education sets requirements for textbooks and curriculum, which ignited a nationwide controversy earlier this year, according to a statewide survey the Texas Freedom Network released today.

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