Texas Standard for March 29, 2022

A Democratic congressman resigns early creating what the GOP says is an opportunity to flex political muscle in South Texas. What Filemón Vela Jr.’s decision to leave Congress early might mean for the GOP efforts to shift south Texas from blue to red. And: How Texas’ new voting law disenfranchised some long-term Texas voters. Also: They were first spotted in Texas in 2002. Twenty years and much destruction later, University of Texas researchers say they’ve found kryptonite for crazy ants. Plus: How the pandemic changed the recipe for a long running survey of the best restaurants in Texas. All that and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardMarch 29, 2022 9:30 am,

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

Rep. Filemón Vela resigns

Rep. Filemón Vela, a longtime Democratic congressman, had already announced he would not be seeking reelection in the 34th Congressional District which runs from San Antonio to Brownsville. But last week, he said he would resign early so that he could take a position with the prominent law and lobbying firm Akin Gump. Juan Carlos Huerta, professor of political science at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, speaks to us about the forthcoming special election to fill Vela’s seat.

El Paso voter disenfranchisement

In the March 1 primary elections, 15% of the absentee ballots cast in El Paso County were rejected, thanks to new voting restrictions in Texas. Molly Smith, reporter for El Paso Matters, spoke to some of the long-time voters whose ballots weren’t counted.

Ukraine consul general in Dallas

Ukraine’s consul general has a very simple request for Texas elected officials: stop investing in Russia. KERA’s Alejandra Martinez reports on the message from Vitalii Tarasiuk.

Kryptonite for crazy ants

The ‘tawny’ or ‘raspberry’ crazy ant first showed up in Texas a little over 20 years ago. And since then, they’ve been driving a lot of Texans – well, a bit crazy.They not only drive out local ant species but can also get into electrical equipment and cause major damage. There’s not usually a quick and easy answer to dealing with an invasive species — but University of Texas at Austin researchers may have found one. In fact, they’re calling it “kryptonite” for crazy ants. Edward LeBrun, a research scientist based at UT-Austin’s Brackenridge Field Laboratory, tells us more.

Wild Basin sound study

It was about two years ago when things seemed to suddenly go silent. COVID-19 had arrived in Texas, and as stay at home mandates took hold, downtown areas went quiet and traffic largely disappeared from most major arteries.  For many, the relative silence was frightening and surreal. But for people who research sound, the lockdown was also an opportunity to study what happens when humankind takes a break. Mose Buchele of KUT reports on the results of one study that starts to answer the question: why did the birds seem louder?

Best new restaurants

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer at Texas Monthly, breaks down her annual list of the best new places to eat out in Texas.

Abortion advocates challenge state law

Abortion rights activists haven’t had much success trying to defeat Senate Bill 8, the law which bans abortions in Texas after about six weeks of pregnancy. Court challenges to the law have failed so far. But two advocacy groups are now bringing a new lawsuit forward to attack the law. Eleanor Klibanoff of the Texas Tribune tells us more.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Michael Marks with the talk of Texas.

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