• Third special session looms for Texas Legislature

    House speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said Gov. Rick Perry would immediately call a third special session later this evening after transportation funding was left unsolved at the closure of the second special session on Tuesday.

    The second special session called by Perry was first initiated to address transportation funding as well as abortion restrictions. The bill on the floor Monday would have raised about $900 million for the Texas Department of Transportation from money intended to go to the Texas Rainy Day Fund, fulfilling the state’s most pressing road construction needs. The House vote on the bill fell 16 votes short from the required 100-vote consensus.

    State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, authored the bill and has asked Perry not call another 30-day session immediately and instead wait until after the 2014 primaries.

    “Legislators have been in Austin for nearly seven months now, and to go home without dealing with one of the most pressing issues facing all Texans is simply unacceptable,” Perry said in a statement after transportation bills failed Monday. “I join Texans across the state who appreciate the 84 members of the House who voted today to keep Texas moving.”

  • UT CPE engineering building evacuated

    UT’s Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Building, located at Dean Keaton and Speedway, was evacuated shorty after 1 p.m. Monday because of reported smoke. 

    University spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said construction in the building caused dust to be mistaken for smoke, leading someone to pull a fire alarm. It was originally thought smoke was coming from the third floor. The building has now been cleared for re-entry.

    Software developer Michael Jackson, who works in CPE, said there was a large amount of confusion during the evacuation.

    “I was just working when the alarms went off and they rushed us out,” Jackson said. “I didn’t smell any smoke or hear anything, it was just a nice, pleasant day at work.”

    Jackson said this type of incident is becoming common. Thursday, the Engineering Sciences building on Speedway was evacuated because of an air conditioning problem.

    Masa Prodanovic, an assistant professor of engineering, came back from lunch to find the building had been closed off.

    “We just want to get back in there and get back to work,” Prodanovic said.

    Follow Andrew Messamore and Christine Ayala on Twitter @ucme_ and @christine_ayala.

  • The Morning Texan: Dry Monday, Urban Rail and more

    According to the National Weather Servie, today's high is 98 degrees. A few clouds are expected to roll in tonight, but there is not a chance of rain.

    Here is some morning reading: 

    This weekend's most read story online: From Jenji Kohan, the creator of the award-winning television series “Weeds,” comes the new Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.” About a woman with a complicated history landing in an all-female federal prison, this show is a must-watch. Check out our review here.

    In case you missed it: Check out our Daily Texan Podcast, where Bobby Blanchard, Christine Ayala, Jody Serrano and special guest Jacob Kerr discuss the UT regents, MyEdu and ESPN's X Games. They also get off topic for a little bit and discuss the royal baby and tea.

    What you have to read: The City of Austin is currently planning where the Urban Rail may go. While the University want it to go along San Jacinto Boulevard, students may prefer it in West Campus.

  • The Morning Texan: Rain, 'Orange is the New Black' and more

    While Austin has had a dry week, that might all end tonight. According to the National Weather Service, there is a 20 percent chance of rain tonight. As of Friday morning, the National Weather Service says that is the only chance of rain this weekend. Today's high is 99 degrees.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read story online: From Jenji Kohan, the creator of the award-winning television series “Weeds,” comes the new Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.” About a woman with a complicated history landing in an all-female federal prison, this show is a must-watch. Check out our review here.

    In case you missed it: The first student housing project to be built on University-owned land but developed and maintained by an outside company opened Tuesday.

    What you have to read: The United States Senate passed a bipartisan agreement Wednesday on student loan rates, nearly a month after the July 1 deadline. Student interest rates for subsidized loans hiked from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent after the July deadline because of the struggle for a Senate agreement.

  • US Senate passes student loan deal

    The United States Senate passed a bipartisan agreement Wednesday on student loan rates, nearly a month after the July 1 deadline.

    Student interest rates for subsidized loans hiked from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, after the July deadline because of the struggle for a Senate agreement.

    The legislation now puts undergraduate Stafford loan rates at 3.86 percent, graduate Stafford loans at 5.4 percent as well as parent and graduate student PLUS loans at 6.4 percent. According to ABC, this will apply retroactively to loans issued after the deadline.

    Politico reported these new rates would come with interest rates cap, allowing rate to increase without exceeding a set limit of 8.5 percent for undergraduates, 9.5 percent for graduates and 10.5 for PLUS loans.

    It came to a 81-18 vote, with Democrats split on the bill.

    Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @christine_ayala.

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