Texas Standard For January 26, 2021

In Texas’ most populous metro area, a rethink of how the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed, we’ll have the latest. And: When the Texas capitol city cut the budget for its police department by almost a third last year, Texas’ governor warned there would be a price to pay. Now, with the Texas Legislature in session, what the governor plans to do to keep other Texas cities from following Austin’s move. Also: The Biden administration’s plan to increase the minimum wage. Is now the right time and do the numbers add up? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardJanuary 26, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Tuesday, January 26 2021.

Harris County COVID Vaccine Distribution

Houston is about to drop mega COVID-19 vaccine sites in favor of smaller, more efficient clinics until the supply of shots coming from the federal and state governments significantly increases. Zach Despart, a Houston Chronicle reporter who covers Harris County, talks to the Standard about this switch and other problems with distribution

Abbott’s City Tax Revenue Threats

For the past two years, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been a frequent critic of the City of Austin, particularly how local officials police the homeless and operates the police department. After the city moved last year to cut $21 million from its police budget, the governor announced this month state lawmakers should pass a law that would withhold tax revenue from any city that cuts its police department budget.The Standard talks to James Barragan who has been covering these developments for The Dallas Morning News.

Trans Service Ban Lifted

President Donald Trump’s 2017 ban on transgender military service was reversed by President Joe Biden this week. As of two years ago, nearly 15,000 members of the military were transgender. Now trans advocates and service members are preparing for a new era with new challenges. Texas Public Radio’s Carson Frame reports.

Minimum Wage Increase

The last time the federal government raised the minimum wage was more than 11 years ago. It’s the longest span of time without an increase in just over 80 years. Now that President Biden is in office and Democrats control the House and Senate, a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage looks possible. But the question still lingers, especially in a pandemic: will this harm or hurt the economy? David Cooper, a senior economic analyst and deputy director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network for the Economic Policy Institute, talks to the Standard.

Lake Waco Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are an invasive species: tiny mollusks with sharp shells that love to cling to underwater infrastructure in dense clusters. They’re a problem without an apparent solution, since once zebra mussels are established in a body of water, there’s really no good way to get them out. The exception is in Lake Waco, where according to Texas and Parks and Wildlife, the state’s first official zebra mussel eradication has been declared. The Standard talks to Monica McGarrity, senior scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

COVID and English Language Learners

Almost 30% of young Texas students don’t speak English as their first language. Texas fell short of serving this group before COVID-19 entered the United States. Now, the pandemic has only hampered any progress. David Feigen with the group Texans Care for Children talks to the Standard about a plan advocates are taking to the Texas Legislature.

 Special Ed Difficulties

The Texas Education Agency is stepping in after finding the Houston Independent School District has failed its children with disabilities. Last year, it delivered a scathing review of HISD’s systemic failures in its special ed services. For its part, Texas has its own troubled track record with special ed, including years of an illegal cap on services. As Houston Public Media’s Laura Isensee explains, it’s all left some Houston families feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Military and Capitol Insurrection 

It’s been over two weeks since the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol building, and more details are coming out about about the people involved in the attack. A new analysis by NPR now shows many of the rioters have a military background. Tom Driesbach, a member of NPR investigations team talks to the Standard about the findings.

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

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