Texas Standard For May 24, 2021

Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. We’ll look at why the city, and Harris County, are not getting any federal money for flood mitigation managed by the Texas General Land Office. And: Texas uses gas taxes to help maintain and build new roads. So how does it make up the loss in revenue from more people driving electric vehicles? Some say the potential answer sends the wrong message. Also: PTAs in wealthy parts of one Texas school district have actually been paying staff salaries. Why the practice is ending and what could replace it. Plus: There’s been a lot of back and forth about how the capital city makes room for people experiencing homelessness. Austin voters said one thing, now state lawmakers may add another. Where things stand now. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardMay 24, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Monday, May 24, 2021.

General Land Office Hurricane Harvey Aid

The state is distributing a billion dollars in federal aid to places hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey, four years ago. But the Texas General Land Office, which is in charge of distributing those funds, notified Houston and Harris County leaders they’ve been allotted nothing. Zach Despart has been following this story for the Houston Chronicle, and joins us with the latest.

Arlington Mayoral Runoff

Several local elections across Texas in May included races where no candidate earned a majority of votes. Because of that, voters now have the opportunity to vote in runoff elections. Early voting in those elections begins today, Monday, May 24. Fort Worth and Arlington both have mayoral runoffs to fill open seats. KERA’s Bret Jaspers asked each of the candidates for Arlington mayor about their policy positions.

‘Unbanked’ Houston

Starting July 15, families with children will receive monthly benefit payments as part of the federal coronavirus relief bill. But for many in Texas who need it the most, the money will arrive late and/or incur fees. Why? Because a disproportionate number of people in communities of color don’t have bank accounts. Houston Public Media’s Florian Martin reports on efforts to get more people “banked.”

Electric Vehicle Tax

Electric cars are often touted as the vehicles of the future. Tax credits are offered to speed up their adoption by drivers. But a bill in the Texas Legislature, where oil and gas money holds sway, would create a new fee for electric car drivers. Sebastian Blanco covers electric vehicles for Car and Driver magazine, and joins us with more.

AISD Ditching PTA Help For Salary Positions

It’s not unusual for school PTAs to pitch in and buy something such as classroom supplies. But some spending raises eyebrows. Consider the case of a PTA in Houston’s River Oaks setting out to raise a million dollars for a multi-use facility. And just this month Austin ISD announced it will no longer allow PTAs to pay for staff positions. For more on this development, we’ll turn to education reporter Claire McInerny from our home station KUT Austin.

Migrant Council

Election Day in Mexico is June 6, and millions of voters will select their legislative representatives. Many of those voters no longer live in Mexico, but they will still have their voices heard. Texas Public Radio’s Norma Martinez reports migrants from Mexico City who live abroad will have the opportunity to elect a council person that will represent them in the Mexico City Congress.

UT-Austin An Hispanic-Serving Institution

The University of Texas at Austin is recognized worldwide for its research and academic excellence. We know that in part because whatever milestone the school achieves, it touts far and wide. That’s why it was strange for Suzanne Gamboa when in September, she noticed UT-Austin achieved a significant milestone that was buried in the ninth paragraph of a news release: UT-Austin is now a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Suzanne Gamboa is a national reporter for NBC Latino and nbcnews.com, and based in San Antonio. She joins us today.

Statewide Homelessness Camping Ban Measure

Homelessness encampments could soon be banned statewide if a measure passed out of the Texas Senate is signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. The bill is considered a response to the City of Austin’s lift of a camping ban in recent years, an action that was overturned by Austin voters in May. Andrew Weber covers homelessness in Austin and Travis County for KUT Austin and joins us today.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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