Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Texans struggle to find work in the Valley, where unemployment has nearly tripled

Sandra Santos has been doing everything she can to find a job since she was laid off in mid-March from working in the billing and collections department of an ambulance service in the Rio Grande Valley. The 47-year-old Edinburg native filed for unemployment shortly afterward and recently received her second check in the mail — weeks after she and her boyfriend were evicted from their apartment. Her boyfriend, Joey Quintanilla, is a self-employed landscaper who is also jobless. His regular salary — which fell short of their monthly $500 rent — amounted to “just enough to buy groceries,” according to Santos. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Texas coronavirus cases lead to cancellation of SXSW

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a local emergency on Thursday that effectively cancels this year’s South by Southwest festival. The 10-day event was scheduled...

State closing two prisons as population shrinks

Following a declining inmate population and dangerous understaffing in Texas prisons, the state is closing two of its more than 100 lockups. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, announced Thursday that the Garza East prison in Beeville and the Jester I Unit in Sugar Land would be closing soon. He said in a statement that all employees at the closing prisons would be offered jobs at nearby facilities, “preventing the loss of any jobs while also addressing understaffing at other units.” A prison spokesperson said the Beeville unit would close in mid-May, and the Sugar Land prison would close this summer. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s executive director, Bryan Collier, said diversion, treatment and education programs, as well as a low rate of people getting sent back to prison, led to the decision. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Some Texas landowners prepare as government tries to take land

When David Acevedo attended a meeting with officials from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in Webb County last month, he thought he would come away with more information about the Trump administration’s border security plans. But Acevedo, whose family owns 180 acres of land near the Rio Grande in south Laredo, said the meeting only produced more questions about how the administration was going to move forward with plans it had for the swath of land that’s been in his family for generations. “They didn’t tell us that they were doing a physical barrier,” he said. “They said, ‘It may be a wall, it may be that we just need lights, we’re going to put lighting up, it may be we just need a road.’” The only thing he knew for sure was the administration wanted access to his land to conduct surveys and site samples for border security purposes. And in a letter dated Oct. 15, the government asked him to grant access for 18 months. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Ban on state income tax gets strong support

AUSTIN — Amendments to the state constitution that would make it harder to enact a state income tax, stabilize funding for state parks and...

State lawmakers concerned about migrant conditions

By Lara Korte | The Texas Tribune AUSTIN — Local officials from the Texas-Mexico border, civil rights attorneys and the heads of law enforcement agencies...

After legalizing hemp, state to drop hundreds of marijuana cases

AUSTIN — Because of a new state law, prosecutors across Texas have dropped hundreds of low-level marijuana charges and have indicated they won’t pursue...