Texas Standard for May 11, 2022: State used pandemic aid on Operation Lone Star

What happened to more than a billion dollars in federal COVID relief funds for Texas? Officials want to know whether the money was misspent. And: How nominally non-partisan school board elections in Texas have become a magnet for big money donations, and what that could mean for what’s taught in public school classrooms. Also: A new report outlines gender disparities in higher education opportunities among Texas prisoners. This and much more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardMay 11, 2022 9:51 am,

Here are the stories for  Texas Standard for Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Check back later for updated story links and audio.

Texas took federal aid meant for the pandemic and used it for Operation Lone Star

Federal pandemic relief money went to Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission. Texas officials transferred money meant for state agencies to the operation on the border and then used the federal relief money to replace what they’d taken out. This all comes on the heels of an analysis from The Washington Post, which shows how much of the funding state leaders shifted toward border operations.  Tony Romm, congressional economic policy reporter at The Washington Post, joins us to share more.

The state took money from the juvenile justice system for border operations

One state agency that had money stripped from its budget to help pay for Abbott’s border mission is the juvenile justice system, an agency that is already known to be strapped for cash. Texas Public Radio’s Paul Flahive reports that the move hurts Texas children, and could hurt the state when Justice Department officials finish their investigation of the agency.

A ban on no-knock warrants passes in Austin with 85% of the vote

Since their inception during President Nixon’s War On Drugs, no-knock warrants have been increasingly used by police departments across the U.S. But after several recent high-profile instances of no-knock warrants gone wrong, they’ve also been under increased scrutiny. Now, voters in Austin have approved a ban on the practice. KUT’s Audrey McGlinchy has more.

Local school board elections are becoming key races for well-funded PACs

Traditionally, school board elections are low-key, low-budget races – at least compared to some of the more high-profile offices on a ballot. These positions are non-partisan in Texas and rarely attract attention beyond their own communities – but that’s changing. Deep-pocketed donors and political action committees recently spent generously in school board races this election cycle. And their cash seems to have made a difference. We’ll have more from Talia Richman, reporter for The Dallas Morning News Education lab.

Texas allows inmates in men’s prisons to earn a higher education than those in women’s prisons

For people incarcerated in prison, being able to earn a college degree is an opportunity not just to further one’s own education – research also indicates it reduces recidivism. But when it comes to higher education in Texas prisons, men have access to more opportunities than women do, according to a new report for The Education Trust. Nadra Nittle has been writing about this for the 19th News, where she covers education.

Limited code inspection increases the risk of tenant health and safety

Texas’ big cities have hundreds of thousands of apartment units – tens of thousands in Dallas alone. But there are fewer than two dozen code inspectors specifically trained to focus on multi-tenant properties. While part of their job is to help protect citizens from unsafe and unhealthy conditions, Alejandra Martinez of KERA reports they face a daunting task.

Fact check: Under Texas law, can rapists sue their victims for getting an abortion?

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted, “In Texas, Republicans passed a law allowing rapists to sue their victims for getting an abortion.” Is that a fact? Joining us is Nusaiba Mizan with PolitiFact Texas, based at the Austin American-Statesman.

All this, plus the Texas Newsroom’s state roundup and Wells Dunbar with the Talk of Texas.

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