Texas Standard For December 16, 2020

Senate leader Mitch McConnell congratulates Joe Biden on his election win. So why are many fellow republicans, including from Texas, staying silent? And: As a movement to declare so-called “sanctuary cities” for the unborn takes hold statewide, the push gets a major boost in Lubbock, the biggest Texas city to consider such a measure so far. We’ll hear all about it. Also: $1.7 trillion and rising: the total amount of student debt currently owed. The president-Elect is under pressure to offer student debt forgiveness. We’ll have the first of a two-part look at what that might entail. Plus: A PolitiFact check and more on the Standard:

By Texas StandardDecember 16, 2020 9:30 am

Here’s what’s coming up on Texas Standard for Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Listen on your Texas public radio station, or ask your smart speaker to play Texas Standard. We’ll have full posts for each story, including audio, a little later today.

Texans Still Holding out on Biden Win 

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has now publicly acknowledged that Joe Biden is president-elect but few Republican members of the Texas congressional delegation followed suit. In fact, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and another 16 of 22 GOP House members from Texas refrained from acknowledging Biden’s win. Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, talks to the Standard.

Lubbock Sanctuary City for the Unborn Petition

Last month, Lubbock’s city council unanimously rejected a measure that would have designated it as a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.” The ordinance would have made it illegal to get an abortion in Lubbock. But the city council voted it down on the advice of their lawyers, who said that it was likely unenforceable, and possibly illegal. But now, voters will decide on the issue next year. Kaysie Ellingson, news director at Texas Tech Public Media in Lubbock, talks to the Standard.

First Vaccines in Parkland

Tuesday marked the second day of COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline health care workers in Texas. As KERA’s Hady Mawajdeh reports from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the first shots were given to nurses and doctors working in intensive care units.

Student Loan Forgiveness

Democratic leaders are pressing president-elect Biden to cancel $50,000 in debt per student borrower with quick executive action once he takes the oath of office. However, Biden has said he wants Congress to pass more modest relief. So which route makes more sense? Laura Beamer, a lead researcher in higher education finance at the Jain Family Institute, which studies more progressive economic policies, talks to the Standard.

State versus Local Control of COVID Response

Abilene recently became the eighth region in Texas to meet Gov. Greg Abbott’s threshold for rolling back business capacity, as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. A host of local leaders across the state say they’d like to do more but the governor’s statewide orders limit their power to impose restrictions. As KERA’s Mallory Falk reports, it’s the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between state and local control in the Lone Star State.

 COVID Toy Drives

Toy drives are often conducted across the state as a way for communities to provide gifts for children in families with lesser means. But the groups who work to get the gifts and distribute them have had a hard time adjusting to the realities and restrictions imposed during this pandemic. KUT’s Sangita Menon reports on how some in the Texas capitol city are adapting.

A Letter From Texas 

There’s a certain Texas-based retailer famous for its luxury, one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts. And even in 2020, they’re offering everything from crystal shot glasses to a $48,000, parrot ring encrusted with 38 diamonds. But Neiman Marcus also has been known for somewhat more modest offerings. Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong reminds us of one such gift from a few decades back.


Texas State Sen. Royce West says this year is the first time during his 27 years as senator “that two African Americans have ever served on the same committee.” But is that a fact? Brandon Mulder dug into this claim for Politifact Texas, based at the Austin American-Statesman.

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

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