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McCaul’s ‘Creating Hope Act’ signed into law

Congressman Michael McCaul is celebrating President Obama’s signing of a law he authored to help sick children.

McCaul co-sponsored the “Creating Hope Act." The law creates federal incentives for pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs to treat rare childhood diseases like sickle cell anemia and cancer.

According to McCaul, the drug industry has stalled its creation of these medicines because other, more widely used drugs are more profitable.

"We do a lot of stuff up here that quite honestly doesn’t mean a whole lot. This is something that I think will make a difference in the lives of children," McCaul said.

McCaul says that since 1980, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only one new drug to treat childhood cancer.

Under the law, companies that develop drugs to treat pediatric illnesses will receive vouchers to help speed up the approval process for their more profitable drugs.

The law will go into effect in 90 days.

President responds to health care ruling

President Obama opened his speech Thursday by saying he doesn’t want Thursday’s decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act to be viewed by its politics.

“Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it,” he said.

According to Obama, if you already have health insurance, you will keep it. He said the law makes the insurance more secure and more affordable.

As part of the act, insurance companies will no longer be able to impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive, no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions, no longer drop coverage if you get sick and no longer able to hike up premiums without reason.

They will be required to provide free preventative care, rebates to nearly 13 million Americans, adults under 26 will be able to stay on their parent’s health care and seniors will receive discounts on prescriptions.

Obama said all benefits will continue for Americans with health insurance, and for those without it, starting in 2014, the states take be designing their own options, known as “exchanges.”

Within these exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate on any American with a preexisting health condition or charge more to people because of their sex. They also won’t be able to bill anyone into bankruptcy.

Obama said a credit will be provided to those who can’t afford the premiums, but those who can afford it will be required to purchase insurance.

Obama said, “Today, the Supreme Court upheld the principle if people, who can afford insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.”

You can check out Obama’s full speech in the video above.

Third Emerging Technology Fund recipient goes bankrupt

Another company awarded money from Gov. Rick Perry’s Emerging Technology Fund filed for bankruptcy last month.

Nano-Tailor’s CEO says the company folded because the state did not fully invest up to $1.25 million.

In 2010, Nano-Tailor received $250,000 in taxpayer money. The company’s CEO says it could not meet performance requirements added to the original contract.

Two other tech fund recipients filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Nano-Tailor’s filing brings the total amount of failed investments to $2.5 million.

Perry launched the fund in 2005. Since then, it has awarded $370 million to more than 100 companies.

Primary night coverage on YNN

Michael Morton’s role in the race for WilCo DA

A point of contention in this year’s race for Williamson County District Attorney is the high-profile wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.

The issue has put current Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley in the spotlight. Early numbers have his challenger, Jana Duty, taking the lead.

YNN’s John Salazar reports on how Morton shaped the race.

Then, YNN’s Chie Saito has more on the Bell County race for sheriff, and more analysis from Jim Henson with the Texas Political Party.

Political analysis: Race for District 35

YNN’s Paul Brown talks with the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg and statewide political analyst Scott Braddock about the race for District 35.

The restricting fallout earlier this year moved longtime Congressman Lloyd Doggett from many his loyal constituents.

Also hear Kronberg’s and Braddock’s analysis on the race for Hutchison’s Senate seat.

Polls close in less than one hour

Polls for this year’s primary close at 7 p.m. across Travis County.

This particular primary is running a little late. Normally primary elections are held in March, but the redistricting hearing slowed things down this year, landing both the state primary and municipal elections in May.

According to Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, having the election the day after Memorial Day weekend had a negative impact on voter turnout.

"We have seen a nice, steady turnout for today, but I don’t think it is going to break any records,” DeBeauvoir said. “In fact, it looks like it is probably going to be a pretty low turnout.”

By early Tuesday afternoon, about 25,000 people had voted in Travis County, but there’s usually a rush to the polls at the end of the work day. DeBeauvoir said she expects the total number to double by the time the polls close.

At 7 p.m. sharp, all the ballots will be delivered to the city clerk’s office on flash drives, where the votes will be tallied. Early numbers should start rolling in about 8:15 p.m.

Then, Paul Brown shares what to expect as primary night continues.

Race for District 35, political analysis from Jim Henson

YNN’s Karina Kling is with the Lloyd Doggett campaign as they wait for results for Texas’ District 35 seat. Hear how Doggett and his top competitor Sylvia Romo are feeling tonight.

Also, listen to analysis from political strategist Jim Henson.

Primary night in Texas

It’s primary night in Central Texas, and YNN has all the high-profile races across Central Texas covered.

The race is close between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s US Senate seat.

Both candidates are watching the results roll in from Houston, and YNN is there.

Pleased with early voting numbers, Matt Hirsch with the Dewhurst campaign said he went to vote this morning and no one was there day after Memorial Day, as expected. The awkward timing of Election Day is the reason why so many campaigns pushed early voting. While Dewhurst did stay active throughout the day, his campaign didn’t do any phone banking.

Unlike his chief rival, Dewhurst’s top republican challenger, Ted Cruz, had about a half dozen volunteers phone banking well into the afternoon.

Judge to hear Planned Parenthood, state arguments Oct. 19

State attorneys and Planned Parenthood met in court again Friday where a federal judge set a start date for the trial.

At issue is funding for the women’s health group. Officials with Planned Parenthood say the state violated the U.S. Constitution when it pulled funding based on the group’s affiliation with abortion clinics.

Last month, Judge Lee Yaekel issued a stay, effectively keeping the funding coming until a court decision.

Judge Yaekel said Friday arguments in the case will start in October.

He warned both sides that he may not have a decision on the case before Nov. 1 — which is when the state could eliminate the program, altogether.

Rumors of Powers’ job in peril prompt university-wide support

University of Texas President Bill Powers has ignited a firestorm of support from UT faculty and state leaders after rumors erupted Wednesday evening that his job was in jeopardy.

Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka wrote a blog post, citing unnamed sources, that Powers "may be in danger of losing his job." Burka claims it stems from Powers publicly opposing Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a tuition freeze.

Last legislative session, Perry led the charge to cut $900 million from higher education. The move forced Powers to make up the difference, so he asked for a tuition hike.

Powers in peril?

A Facebook group called "I Stand with Bill Powers" has already gained about 10,000 members since it was created just before midnight Wednesday.

The UT System Board of Regents, whom Perry appoints, ultimately approved a two-year tuition freeze over Powers’ protest on May 3.

"I am disappointed that our very thoughtful proposal, every penny of which would have gone to student success, which itself would help keep the cost of higher education down, was not an adopted," Powers said after the Regents’ decision.

If blog rumors prove true, Perry may have his first political battle on his hands since leaving the presidential campaign trail.

Glenn Smith, a democratic strategist with Progress Texas, says Perry has a monopoly of higher education in the state.

"Rick Perry has put a noose around the neck of Texas colleges and universities and Texas families trying to get their children into to them," he said. "Tuition is up 70 percent on his watch, but that’s because he slashed funding on universities."

Monday, the UT Faculty Council Chair will consider a resolution its chairman drafted in reaction to the rumors that supports President Powers and his administrative team.

"Based on the actions of this Board of Regents over the last year or so, it seems to me much in keeping with who they are and what they are and what they have done," Chair Alan Friedman said. "It [The University of Texas] can weather only so many frontal assaults before it can begin to suffer. It’s very easy to destroy excellence. It’s very hard to rebuild it."

Read UT Faculty Chair Alan Friedman’s letter calling for support for Powers, sent to UT staff Thursday:

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, President Powers proposed a modest tuition increase for the next two years that fell within the guidelines that the Regents had established early on.

Yet he was pressured to withdraw the proposal, and when, unlike the President at Texas A&M, he refused because he thought it was crucial to the life of the institution to maintain educational quality to the extent he could, the proposal was nonetheless rejected.

Now rumors abound that his job is in jeopardy because he didn’t do as he was told.

At its regular meeting this coming Monday at 2:15pm in Main 212, the Faculty Council will consider a resolution I have drafted in support of the President and his administrative team. I think that a strong show of support from the campus community would be invaluable at this time, so I hope that every faculty member, student, and staff person who can make the meeting will be there. Please come if you possibly can and urge your colleagues to do so as well.


Recognizing the extraordinary efforts exerted by UT Austin President Bill Powers and his administrative team in support of the recent proposal for a modest, well-documented, and crucial tuition increase, the Faculty Council strongly commends them for seeking to protect and enhance the quality of our students’ education and the value of their degrees, as well as the research and public service achievements of the faculty.

The fact that the Regents ultimately rejected the proposal diminishes neither the campus’s need for such financial support nor the efforts made to attain it.


Alan W. Friedman

Chair, Faculty Council 2011-12

May 29 Texas primary date set

The Texas primary will be held May 29.

The deadline for federal judges to pre-clear redistricting maps was Sunday. A decision would’ve pushed back the already late primary to June, and would mean an even later runoff election.

Now, any changes to redistricting maps won’t take effect until the 2014 election cycle.

April 30 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 29 primary.

Perry: I’m suspending my campaign, endorsing Gingrich

YNN’s Alana Rocha shares more from Charleston, South Carolina in the video above.

Gov. Rick Perry suspended his presidential campaign in South Carolina Thursday morning.

“There is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign. Therefore, today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States,” he said.

During his speech Perry said, he believes the mission is greater than the man. He said the mission is not only to defeat Obama, but replace him with a "conservative leader who can bring about real change."

“The future of our country is at stake, and the road we are on, President Obama’s road, is a dangerous one,” he said.

Perry said he believes Gingrich is the man to do beat Obama, calling him a "conservative visionary."

“I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer [and] the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement,” Perry said.

Perry ended his campaign by saying he was following Sam Houston’s lead of strategic retreat.

“I will leave the trail, return home to Texas, wind down my 2012 campaign and I will do so with pride knowing I gave fully of myself of myself of a cause worthy of this country,” he said.

Click the video above to see Gov. Perry’s full remarks from South Carolina Thursday.

Perry to reassess campaign after placing 5th in Iowa caucus

YNN’s Alana Rocha filed the above video report from Des Moines.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a crowd of his supporters Tuesday night that he plans to return to Texas to assess the viability of his campaign.

After a bumpy road to the Iowa caucus, the governor placed fifth in the running.

“With the voters’ decision tonight I’ve decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race,” Perry said. “I believe that this is the greatest nation on the face of the earth."

A Perry official confirmed members of Perry’s campaign had plane tickets back to Texas Wednesday.

"I wasn’t expecting to hear that," Perry supporter Rick Morales said. "You know the American people, especially here in Iowa they spoke today and we’ll see where we go from here."

Earlier in the evening, Perry was trying to shift focus to the upcoming South Carolina primary. He planned to skip next week’s New Hampshire primary in favor of spending more time in South Carolina for their caucus scheduled Jan. 21.

"I think it’s very informed and intelligent to go back and ask yourself, ‘Where do I go from here? What do I ask of my supporters?’" Perry supporter Don Ward said.

More than 500 supporters spent their own money to travel from around the country to caucus for Perry Tuesday. Despite his poor finish, they say they’ll be with him no matter his decision.

"It could be good. He just said he’s going to go home and think about it. That doesn’t mean it’s the end," Perry supporter Susan Hackney said. "He knows what he’s doing, and you know if he wants to continue moving forward, we’re with him. If not, then we’re with him anyway."

Fellow GOP candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney landed in a tug-of-war for the top spot, both receiving 25 percent of the vote. At the end of the night, Romney beat out Santorum by eight votes.

In third came Rep. Ron Paul, who said his finish is a strong message to the status quo.

"Too often, those who preach limited government and small government, they forget,
that invasion of your privacy is big government,” Paul said. “We have to emphasize protecting your personal rights and your economic rights, are what the government’s supposed to do. They’re not supposed to run our lives or spend our money."

Rep. Paul was followed by Newt Gringrich, who spoke highly of Santorum in his speech to supporters.

Michele Bachmann placed sixth.

Several other GOP candidates have already indicated they’ll skip New Hampshire to focus on South Carolina.

Watch the governor’s full speech the video above.

Paul makes statewide visits in anticipation of caucus day

YNN’s Alana Rocha shares more from Des Moines, Iowa in the video above..

In the first contest of the 2012 election cycle, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is narrowly trailing leader Mitt Romney.

There can only be one winner in Tuesday’s Iowa GOP presidential nominee caucus, and Paul is aiming to get those votes.

“Ron and Rand Paul are out barnstorming Iowa right now. They’re flying around the state stopping in key towns and just doing whistle stop rallies and getting everyone ready for caucus day,” Ron Paul Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton said.

Benton said Paul is staying on message with talks of balanced budgets, cutting spending, a pro-American foreign policy and respect for civil liberties.

“We see this as a two-man race between Ron and Mitt,” he said. “We see this very much as the establishment in Mitt Romney, versus real change in the grassroots in Ron Paul.”

Benton said Paul’s grassroots in Iowa is strong and they expect to have Iowans at election sites Tuesday.

“We have an unprecedented number of precinct captains and precinct leadership,” he said.

To kick off the day Tuesday, Paul is slated to be at a “Rock the Caucus” event at 10 a.m. with Iowa high school students.