Texas Standard For April 1, 2021

The Texas Senate passes what supporters call election reforms and what many democrats say amounts to institutionalized voter suppression. Limits to early voting hours, a ban on drive-through voting and more – part of Senate Bill 7. Against this backdrop, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is set to reconsider a high profile vote fraud case, we’ll explore both coming up. And: In South Texas, a county once one of the world coronavirus hot spots is now a remarkable success story on vaccinations. We’ll talk with the health authority of Hidalgo County. Also: Not one, but two Newberry Honors for a Texas writer of children’s books. All of that and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardApril 1, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Court of Criminal Appeal Reviewing Illegal Voting Conviction

The state’s highest criminal court is reviewing a North Texas woman’s 2018 illegal voting conviction. Crystal Mason of Tarrant County filled out a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election on the advice of a poll worker. Mason was found guilty by a trial judge and faces five years in prison. Joseph Fishkin is the Marrs McLean Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Law and talks to the Standard about Mason’s request to have the conviction overturned.

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley was once among the hardest-hit communities in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Hidalgo County is on its way to having most of its residents vaccinated against the disease. That news brings a cautious sigh of relief to local medical leaders who have been on the front lines of battling the coronavirus. Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County Health Authority, talks to the Standard.

Winter Military Storm Damage

More than a month after freezing winter weather hobbled the Texas power grid, military installations around the state are still grappling with the effects. Carson Frame of Texas Public Radio reports that several bases have dealt with sky-high energy bills, burst pipes, and displaced families.

Bad Hold Music 

Do you remember the last time you were put on hold? Do you remember the music? It was probably something that tries to feel soothing, but mostly, it’s irritating. As the pandemic took hold last year, a whole lot of people in Texas were subjected to something like that in the middle of a really stressful time. As KUT’s Matt Largey tells us, that experience with one particular government agency inspired an Austin musician’s latest project.

The Return of Turntable, and Social DJ Apps

Earlier this month, the online music streaming and sharing service, Turntable.FM announced it would relaunch. Turntable hasn’t been online since 2013. In its heyday, Turntable allowed members to gather in virtual rooms, queuing up songs for anyone to hear. The original Turntable was unique, but would-be DJs now have several ways to spin tracks and share them in real time. Our tech expert Omar Gallaga has been taking the new Turntable for a spin and talks to the Standard.

Newbery Medal Books

Each year, the John Newbery Medal is awarded to recognize the very best in American children’s literature. To get one is a big deal. To get two is exceedingly rare. But Texan Christina Soontornvat has done just that. She’s the author of two books that received a 2021 Newbery award and talks to the Standard.

Cloud Seeding

Periodic rainlessness is just a part of life in Texas. Last year, less than 20%  of the state was in a drought. Now? Over two-thirds of Texas is experiencing some level of drought. As dry spells lengthen in both duration and frequency, some researchers in the West are looking for a more hands-solution to chronic drought: cloud seeding. Oliver Milman, a U.S.-based environment reporter for The Guardian talks to the Standard.

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

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