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!

Melittologist Bashira Chowdury with a native longhorn bee, at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens in March.

In the Arid Lands of West Texas, An “Amazon of Bees”

“Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.” Lyricist Cole Porter may have rendered it with a characteristic wit and concision. But it wasn’t a new idea. Poets have long seen in the bee’s regard for the … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.

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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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Wed. Apr 12 Interview: Weather Spotting Classes Come to West Texas

The National Weather Service (NWS) has radar scattered throughout the country to help identify weather patters, create weather alerts, and forecast future conditions.

But it turns out there’s a limit to radar technology. The farther you are from a radar’s center, for example, the less is known about the lowest layer of clouds. So the NWS relies on human volunteers — weather spotters — to call in updates and conditions and help complete the meteorological picture.

In order to get a jump on the spring and summer storms, the NWS will be hosting weather spotting classes throughout West Texas over the next few weeks.

They’re called SKYWARN classes, and they’re led by Mark Strobin. He’s a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service and he’s our guest tonight on West Texas Talk.

We talk about the limits of radar technology, the impact weather spotters have on NWS forecasts, and weather spotting as an act of community service.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Tue. Apr 11 Interview: Dr Fred Beach From University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute

On tonight’s West Texas Talk, Lorne Matalon discusses the U.S.-China relationship and China’s energy policy with Dr Fred Beach, a senior researcher focused on energy policy at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.

The discussion focuses on China’s energy policy and its relationship with the U.S. The interview was recorded as U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were meeting in Florida and a day after the U.S. launched missile strikes against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens that killed 80 people with children and babies among the victims, strikes that China and Russia have criticized.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Semi-Pro Hockey in West Texas

Pro and semi-pro hockey teams improbably sprouted up all over West Texas in the 80s and 90s when hockey-loving Canadian oil workers moved to Texas.

At one time there were more hockey teams in Texas than any other state. But ever since the Dallas Stars’ best seasons in the early 2000s, hockey has fallen off. In fact, only one Tier II semi-pro team in the Permian still remains–the Odessa Jackalopes.

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Lonn Rambles Back to San Francisco

On this edition of the Rambling Boy, Lonn talks about his recent ramble to San Francisco for his wife Dedie’s birthday.

Lonn recalls his last sustained visit to the Golden City by the Bay in 1947 when he was only seven years old and making his way to the Philippines with his mother.

Times have changed since that last visit, as Lonn expresses through his recent views of The Bay Lights.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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Fri. Apr 7 Interview: Joan Naviyuk Kane, Lannan Fellow

On this episode of West Texas Talk, Laura Copelin sits down with Joan Naviyuk Kane, the current Lannan Fellow.

Kane is a poet from Anchorage Alaska and is the author of the poetry collections Hyperboreal (2013), which Arthur Sze chose for the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, and The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (2009). Her honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Creative Vision Award from United States Artists as well as fellowships and residencies from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and the School for Advanced Research. She lives in Anchorage.

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