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Texans are preparing for the state’s next big wildfire

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by By Jayme Lozano Carver, The – 2024-05-27 05:00:00

SUMMARY: In the Texas Panhandle, spring rains have rejuvenated areas ravaged by wildfires, though the devastation still affects residents. Over 1 million acres were burned, killing two people and over 10,000 cattle. Losses are estimated to surpass $1 billion. Residents practice self-mitigation due to slow governmental action. A state House committee determined that unmaintained power lines and oilfield sites caused the fires. Preventive measures by residents and local agencies mitigated some damage. Despite efforts, many still face significant rebuilding challenges. Climate change is intensifying wildfire seasons, making future fires a continual threat, highlighting the urgency for better preventive strategies.

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The house committee investigating the Panhandle wildfires questions a panel of experts during a public access meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Pampa.

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A broken power pole lays partially covered by blowing dirt caused by the rangeland nearby being burned, leaving the top layer of earth exposed, near Canadian, Texas, U.S., March 2, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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Local firefighters work to contain a wildfire after it was whipped up by high winds in Pampa on March 2, 2024.

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This pick-up truck sits in front of a home on State Highway 136. Residents have been working to recover from the Tuesday grass fires that devastated parts of the panhandle.

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A car sits front of the burned the Rose Trailer Sales business on State Highway 136. Residents have been working to recover from the Tuesday grass fires that devastated parts of the panhandle.

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

Texas Tribune

Texas Medical Board adopts abortion guidance

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by By Eleanor Klibanoff, The – 2024-06-21 11:37:24

SUMMARY: The Texas Medical Board has issued new guidance on interpreting the state's abortion laws. The guidelines reduce paperwork but do not specify conditions under which abortions are legal. The Board, responding to concerns from doctors and others, removed a controversial provision about patient transfers. Board Chair Dr. Sherif Zaafran noted that some issues remain unaddressed and emphasized that the board lacks authority to fully resolve them. The guidance mainly details documentation requirements and asserts that doctors can act before a medical emergency becomes imminent. Despite some revisions, critics argue the guidance is still vague and may lead to legal challenges.

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The final guidance

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Initial feedback 

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

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SCOTUS allows gun restrictions on domestic violence suspects

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by By William Melhado, The – 2024-06-21 09:37:13

SUMMARY: In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that protective orders can bar those accused of domestic violence from owning firearms. The case involved Zackey Rahimi, a Texan who argued that restricting firearm access under a domestic violence order was unconstitutional. The ruling overturned a 5th U.S. Circuit Court decision which had favored Rahimi, emphasizing that such firearm laws are consistent with historical regulations preventing harm. Advocates stress that gun presence in domestic violence situations increases homicide risk by 500%. Domestic violence incidents and related homicides in Texas have surged, highlighting the ruling's significance.

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

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Fewer Texas students complete FAFSA after bungled rollout

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by By Sneha Dey, Data reporting by Elijah Nicholson-Messmer, The – 2024-06-21 05:00:00

SUMMARY: Many Texas high school graduates are entering summer without completing the FAFSA, crucial for seeking college financial aid. A revamped form introduced complications, delaying colleges' financial aid timelines. As of June 7, FAFSA completion rates among Texas graduates dropped by 8.8 percentage points, affecting nearly 30,000 students, a sharper decline than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts like Bill DeBaun and Bryan Ashton express concerns that fewer FAFSA submissions will reduce college enrollment, especially among low-income students. Despite this, Texas maintains high completion rates due to a 2021 law requiring FAFSA submission for high school graduation. The challenges may additionally cause “summer melt.”

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

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