• Still no word on TRBs, despite requests from representatives

    While Texas Gov. Rick Perry has added legislation on transportation, abortion and life-sentences to the special session’s agenda, he has not added an item on tuition revenue bonds, despite requests from representatives.

    In the closing days of the regular session, Texas lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on a bill that would grant more than $2 million to higher education institutions across Texas for construction projects through tuition revenue bonds. While called tuition revenue bonds, this funding actually comes from the state, and not tuition.

    Earlier this week, 69 lawmakers from the Texas House sent a signed letter to the governor, asking him to add tuition revenue bonds to the special session. There are 150 members in the House. Forty of the signatures came from Democrats and 29 came from Republicans. Seven of the nine members of the House Committee on Higher Ed also signed the letter.

    “The failure will have a substantial impact on higher education in Texas,” the letter said. “Many projects will be put on hold for at least another two years, and some may disappear altogether.”

    The letter was sent to the governor on Monday.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • The Morning Texan: Westboro Baptist Church, regent controversy and more

    Today's temperature is dropping slighty to 93 degrees as a few clouds roll in. There is even a twenty percent chance of thunderstorms today and tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

    This is the last day an undergraduate student may add a first-term, nine-week or whole-session class, and the tuition payment for any added classes is due today at 5 p.m.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read article online: The Westboro Baptist Church might be coming to Austin to protest. They have a planned stop on the University's campus, but according to UTPD, they will not be allowed to protest on campus since they are not a university group. 

    In case you missed it: UT has posted details on the requirements for UT's first Dell Medical School Dean. In a 21-page document, the University has outlined the qualifications and expectations of the dean. 

    What you have to read: Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was adding abortion to the special session

    What we missed, but you should still read (The Texas Tribune): Following continued open records requests by the UT System Board of Regents, two UT System regents have lashed out against Regent Wallace Hall, calling his actions "an abuse of power." What has resulted has been continued arguing among several members of the board.

  • Westboro Baptist Church not to be allowed on UT's campus tomorrow, UTPD says

    If the Westboro Baptist Church arrives in Austin tomorrow, they will not be allowed to protest on UT’s campus.

    The Church’s current agenda shows it intends to pickett and protest Wednesday morning at the Texas Capitol, the University campus and the Camp Mabry Texas National Guard base. Listed as a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Westboro is an unaffiliated Baptist church from Topeka, Kan. that has gained notoriety over the last decade for protesting at military funerals, engaging in anti-semitic protests and aiding actions against gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people. 

    The church has a reputation for not arriving at scheduled picketing protests, however, and may not appear. 

    Cindy Posey, spokeswoman for UTPD, said it was within UT policy to prevent Westboro from entering campus.

    “Only UT Austin students, faculty and staff are permitted to hold events on campus,” Posey said. “Consistent with our policy, UTPD will not allow external organizations, including [Westboro], to protest on campus. This policy is consistent with the reasonable time, place and manner requirements of the U.S. Constitution."

    Journalism senior Cody Permenter, who started one of several Facebook groups for counter-protests when Westboro arrives in Austin, is helping to put together a counter-protest at the Texas Capitol. 

    “The intent of the protest is to get people who feel they have been targeted by this hate group a chance to go out there and express their feelings in a manner of love, compassion and peace,” Permenter said. “The reason for this rally is to shine some light into the darkness of their hate.”

    Permenter said he believes Westboro still has a right to free speech, however, and said he hopes students avoid confronting or getting too close to the church members. 

  • Perry adds abortion to special session's agenda

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry added abortion regulation to the special session's agenda. 

    Four bills have already been filed in the special session on abortion. The bills would require abortion facilities to recieve extra certicification, ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and further regulate abortion pills. 

    "In Texas, we value all life, and we’ve worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child,” Perry said in a statement. “We have an obligation to protect unborn children."

    Along with abortion, Perry also added legislation relating to establishing a mandatory life sentence with parole for capital felonies committed by 17-year-olds.  Perry added transportation funding to the session's agenda.

  • Princeton University evacuates campus following bomb threat

    Princeton University is evacuating its campus following an "unspecified" bomb threat to multiple campus buildings.

    The university posted the following message on their website earlier today:

    "There has been a bomb threat to multiple unspecified campus buildings. Please evacuate the campus and all University offices immediately and go home unless otherwise directed by your supervisor. Public Safety officers and Princeton Police will direct drivers leaving the campus and those without cars will be directed to evacuation sites. You will receive an update later today. Do not return to campus for any reason until advised otherwise."

    Last fall, UT evacuated all campus buildings following a bomb threat. No bombs were found in the investigation. For several months after, however, multiple universites received bomb threats that caused evacuations.

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