We want to bring you a little closer to how things get done at the Capitol Building in Austin (Credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr, CC BY)

LAST CHANCE! Ask Us: What Do You Want to Know About Lawmaking in Texas?

The Texas Legislature is more than half over, so we wanted to make one more push to ask you what you’re curious about regarding how things work at the State Capitol in Austin.

For the last few months, we’ve been asking you for your questions about the Texas Legislature for a project called Texas Decides.

Do you have any questions about how the legislature works, or why it works the way it does? Are you curious about how certain laws might play out in West Texas?

Reporters across the state are already answering questions you’ve submitted to the series — and in just a few weeks, our own contibutor Sally Beauvais will answer one in an upcoming radio story.

Use the form below to submit your question — we want your voice to be heard as we cover the state Capitol!

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Who Writes The Bills Your Legislators Sponsor?

Lawmakers in Austin have just over a month to figure out the state’s budget for the next two years, plus a parade of other legislation, from reforming Child Protective Services to figuring out how to fund public schools. In all, they’ve filed more than 9,000 bills this session. Today we’re continuing our Texas Decides series, where you decide what questions we answer about the legislature. As our Statewide Editor Rachel Osier Lindley reports, that blizzard of bills got one listener curious — about where they all come from.

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(Erik Hersman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Mayoral Candidates Sound Off on Local Issues

Early voting starts today and all this week, we’ll take a look at the elections and issues at stake throughout West Texas. Today we turn to Marfa, where last week candidates for City Council, the school board and mayor met to address locals. At the end of the forum, candidates for mayor sounded off on a range of local issues.

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At a public meeting this year, Andrews residents came out in support and opposition to the nuclear waste facility.

Proposal for Nuclear Waste Site in West Texas Hangs in Balance

The future of a proposal to bring the some of the country’s used nuclear fuel to West Texas hangs in the balance now, after the company spearheading the effort has requested the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission temporarily suspend the review of their application.

In a letter to the federal commission this week, Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists cited significant financial burdens as the company’s reason for requesting the temporary suspension of its application

The company’s president Rod Baltzer  writes that Waste Control Specialists has had significant operating losses throughout the years, and coming up with the roughly $7.5 million to follow through with the licensing process would be “unsupportable.”

“At the same time,” Batlzer writes, “WCS has faced significant operating losses in each of its operating years, and the cost of actively pursuing the project only serves to increase those losses.”

The company currently operates a low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews County, where they were also looking to build the used nuclear fuel site. The project brought mixed reactions from Andrews residents.

The request for suspension also comes at a time when EnergySolutions – a waste disposal company based in Utah – is seeking to buy the struggling Dallas company.  Last year, however, the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the acquisition, citing concerns that the purchase would create a monopoly on nuclear waste disposal.

The trial is expected to start later this month.


Electricity for 90 per cent of the Texas grid is controlled from a high security room in Taylor, Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, acts as a traffic director to avoid congestion on transmission lines. ERCOT also effectively sets the market price for the wholesale cost of electricity by accepting or rejecting offers from electricity providers. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Energy Survey Says Americans Still Like Coal

AUSTIN, Texas–A closely watched energy survey at the University of Texas at Austin says Americans still like coal, a contributor to global climate change. At the same time, however, a majority says that climate change is real.

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This month the Hobby-Eberly telescope finished receiving $40 million upgrades that astronomers hope will help solve mysteries of the universe.

Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Turns Its Lens to Universe’s Biggest Mysteries

When McDonald Observatory first opened its doors in 1933 it was done with a nearly million dollar donation from a Paris, Texas banker. In his will, W.J.McDonald gave money to the University of Texas at Austin to establish the observatory. A move that confused McDonald’s family and others, since at the time UT didn’t have an astronomy department.

Since then, it’s evolved into one of the nation’s foremost research observatories. Now one of its telescopes finished a $40-million upgrade. The new and improved telescope is now turning its lens towards one of biggest unsolved mysteries in the universe: What is dark energy?

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Corn has been cultivated in Mexico for 9000 years. Mexico is also the number one market for American corn exports. Legislation has been proposed in Mexico to boycott U.S. corn in reaction to the Trump administration's stance on trade with Mexico including the threat to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Shot Across The Bow: Mexico Considers Boycott Of U.S. Corn

MEXICO CITY—Every weekday, Antonio Godinez Vera turns imported American corn into feed for Mexican livestock. Some of that U.S. corn is also used to make tortillas, a staple of the Mexican diet. Corn is also a symbol of Mexico itself. Corn was born in Mexico 9000 years ago. There’s even an expression here, “Sin maíz no hay pais,” (‘without corn there’s no country.’) Legislation has been proposed in Mexico City to boycott U.S. corn in response to a suite of economic threats against Mexico voiced by President Donald Trump.

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Marfa Public Radio Welcomes Carlos Morales!

Marfa Public Radio is excited to announce the arrival of our new Morning Edition Host and Reporter, Carlos Morales. Originally from El Paso, Carlos left West Texas to attend The University of Texas at Austin for both a Bachelors Degree and a Masters in Journalism.

Carlos comes to West Texas from Waco, where he spent two years reporting for KWBU. During his time there he covered a wide range of beats – from public education and poverty to culture and development. But some of his favorite stories were the ones that took him into the city’s varying communities and cultures.

Before that, he worked with the Voces Oral History Project, recording and documenting the memories of Latina/o World War II veterans. Carlos strongly believes in the power of storytelling.

The Marfa Public Radio Membership Drive Begins March 31

When Spring has sprung, you know it’s time for the Marfa Public Radio Membership Drive! Each Spring and Fall, we ask our listeners for a show of financial support to allow the station to continue providing quality news and entertainment to the Big Bend and beyond all year round.

This year’s drive will begin on Friday, March 31 and run through Friday, April 7.

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(Joe Edd Waggoner)

Marfa Public Radio is Looking for a Development Director!

Marfa Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate.

Marfa Public Radio has been the most awarded small-market station in the nation during the regional Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism for two years. Public Media serves a critical role in West Texas.

In these exciting times, we are looking for a dynamic Development Director who is passionate about facilitating the financial health of our stations.

The Development Director is an integral member of our team. S/he will develop our annual fundraising strategy with know-how, humor, and creativity. Our Development Director is a passionate spokesperson for the power of public radio.

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Thu. Apr 20 Interview: Cedar Sigo

On this edition of West Texas Talk, Natalie Melendez sits down with Lannan Poet in-residence Cedar Sigo.

Sigo studied writing and poetics on scholarship at The Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and has spent time learning from poetic greats such as Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Joanne Kyger, among other poets.

In this conversation Sigo speaks about his past works, upcoming works, influences, and the future of his poetry.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Thu. Apr 20 Interview: West Texas Water Symposium

On this episode of West Texas Talk, we hear from Trey Gerfers, the president of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance. They’re hosting a Water Symposium Saturday, April 22nd at the Granada Theatre in Alpine.  The symposium centers on water issues in the state and you will be able to learn about where where water comes from, and the laws and policies that govern its use.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Texas Rep. Hurd Opens Fort Stockton Office

On Tuesday, Texas U.S. Representative Will Hurd  – whose Texas district stretches from pockets of San Antonio, down to Del Rio and out west towards El Paso – opened an office in Fort Stockton. The site is Hurd’s 6th office location, but the first off the stretch of Interstate 10 that runs through the sprawling district.

Hurd, a Helotes Republican, says the move is an effort to be a “gold standard for constituent relations.”

“I think it’s important to have a physical presence in other parts of the district and a place where folks everywhere, in Presidio to Monahans, can have a place to come and meet with me or my staff when we have to,” Hurd said.

The opening of Hurd’s Fort Stockton-office comes after a tour throughout parts of West Texas. The 23rd district is one of the largest districts in the country, covering 29 counties and some 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Despite the large swaths of land Hurd’s district covers, the former CIA officer said it’s important to continue to reach out to his district.

“We’re known from D.C. to D.Q.,” Hurd said.  “So I think folks have come to expect to see us throughout the district.”

Today, Hurd is in Tornillo Texas for the renaming of a port of entry on the border

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Tue. Apr 18 Interview: Marfa Live Arts Playwright-In-Residence Georgina Escobar

Marfa Live Arts’ 2017 playwright-in-residence Georgina Escobar will present her new play BEACONS on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at the Crowley Theater. The show will be performed by Mindy Leanse with support by actors from the community.

BEACONS is a satirical work envisioning a fictitious dystopian society with “Divisible and Justice for Some.” After an ignorant, thick-lipped, evil clan of males take over the country, America has lost a Civil War. Puritanical Fascism rules the land. The divide affects women, too. In New York City, they have broken up into many clans—and they have been fighting everyone, including one another, for years… until now.

During her time in Marfa Escobar will also teach Marfa Live Arts’ 6th Annual Playwriting Workshop with Marfa High School students April 17-21, 2017. Her work with Marfa Live Arts in collaboration with Marfa Independent School District is the primary reason Escobar will be in Marfa. She will work one-on-one with students in their English classes helping them write their own plays.

More information about BEACONS here.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Fri. Apr 14 Interview: Photographer Daniel Lombardi Captures Border Geography

Daniel Lombardi is a photographer who works on long-term documentary photography projects. He spent six weeks traveling along the border from West Texas to California, photographing politically contentious landscapes.

He wanted to see if the landscape and the geography would reflect the political divisions that have been thrust upon them. From border villages to border cities he photographed the walls and fences built years ago and he hiked up rugged mountains to photograph the landscapes that could still be divided by a wall.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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