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It appears that Donald Trump isn’t the only person in the Trump Administration who’s been making frequent trips home.

As The Hill reports, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spent almost half of the time from March to May in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt reportedly traveled back to his home state for at least 43 of the 92 days during that span.

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In Texas, the biggest political battle of this generation may not be between Democrats and the GOP, but between Centrist Republicans and their far-right counterparts. And the contentious bathroom bill being re-introduced to the legislature this week is the battlefield upon which that war is being waged.

The Los Angeles Times this week published an overview of the bathroom bill and the internecine struggle for the soul of the conservative movement in the Lone Star State.

Kevin Rofidal

Former Kansas Senator and national Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Lynn Jenkins jointly introduced resolutions to honor Dole on Monday, two days after his 94th birthday.

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Colorado has made it legal to break into a car, but only if it is to save the life of a child, cat or dog.

As The Denver Post reports, the new state law takes effect on Aug. 9 and provides legal immunity for people who break into a hot car to save an animal or a person, but doesn’t specify whether it’s from heat or cold.

You Can Learn How To Drive A Steam Train

16 hours ago
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People on the High Plains can learn how to drive a steam train, just by taking a day trip to the Colorado-New Mexico border.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the Cumbers and Toltec Scenic Railroad dates back to the 1880s and is the highest and longest steam-operated railroad in the country – a National Historic Landmark – that ferry tourists between Chama and Antonito Colorado every day during the summer and fall seasons.

Colorado Goes High-Tech To Battle DUI-related Crashes

Jul 24, 2017
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Colorado’s department of transportation is using technology to combat driving under the influence.

As The Prowers Journal reports, of the more than 21,000 DUI filings made in Colorado last year, 40 percent involved individuals with a prior DUI offense.

Environmental Protection Agency / Wikimedia Commons

For years, some Texans in agricultural areas have been complaining of chemical drift from crop dusters. Poisonous pesticides can sometimes drift as much as five miles from their intended targets, especially in the high-speed winds of the Texas Panhandle.

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As he closes in on the one year anniversary of his hiring, West Texas A&M University President Dr. Walter Wendler has been making the rounds promoting his ideas for educational growth on the High Plains.

Wendler is the former chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and he was formally named president of WTAMU last September.

Among President Wendler’s main concerns is the heavy burden of student debt in America, and especially how that issue affects residents on the High Plains.

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Oklahoma’s unemployment rate remained steady in June, hovering at 4.3 percent.

As The Oklahoman reports, analysts believe this is not a sign of stagnation, but rather an indication that the state’s economic woes are on the upswing. Lynn Gray, the director of research and analysis at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, said Oklahoma’s jobless rate has been stable for several months, and the state is seeing increases on the payroll side.

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A West Texas native who was diagnosed with the fast-progressing disease known as ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—has undertaken an epic journey to draw attention to the disease.

Colorado Unemployment Rate Remains At Record Low

Jul 23, 2017
50states.com

Colorado’s unemployment rate has continued at record lows for the past three months.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Colorado’s unemployment rate in June stayed at 2.3 percent.

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What do High Plains folks hate the most?

There’s a new app called Hater that works like Tinder, except it matches users based on common things they loathe.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, according to the app’s users, the most common thing Texans hate is . . . “sleeping with the window open.”

This may come as a surprise, as there are so many things to hate in Texas, like rattlesnakes and poorly constructed tacos.

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Texas now leads the nation in job growth, according to new numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission.

As The Dallas Morning-News reports, the Lone Star State’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.6 percent, which puts Texas slightly higher than the national rate of 4.4 percent. However, Texas performed better than most of the country.

Douglas Perkins

One Oklahoma teacher has now turned to panhandling to pay for necessary items for her classroom.

Oklahoma teachers will be returning to work in a few weeks, and that means they’ll have to get their classrooms ready. But, in cash-strapped Oklahoma, this can be an even bigger challenge than in other states.

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Oklahoma will soon announce a new health care initiative aimed at reducing premiums and expanding coverage for everyday Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Affordable Care Act has struggled recently. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only remaining insurer on the state exchange.

Luke Clayton

For the past seven years, Luke and a friend have outfitted archery elk and bear hunts in northern Colorado. This is a busy time of year with lots of preparation for the high country hunting. Luke is busy curing and smoking ham and grinding sausage for the three weeks in elk camp.

There’s nothing more tasty than a big breakfast with cured hickory smoked ham when in that cool mountain air. For more information, visit the Hunting East Texas website

Lake Lou / Flickr

Learning more about how our ancestors lived fascinates me so I’m always up for any adventure that involves the past. A favorite place to explore old times is nearby Cottonwood Ranch at Studley, Kansas. First, the architecture is interesting. Even better, are its stories. The curator and his support team have skillfully preserved this English-style sheep ranch and its history. Fortunately, the original owner kept meticulous records that open windows into his world. In addition, the caretaker is a great storyteller for those inclined to listen. 

FINDYOURSPOT.COM

Agriculture, water, transportation, growth and economic development are all being discussed at city halls across West Texas. So why not better communicate ideas?

That, according to The Amarillo Globe News, is the reasoning behind a coalition of sorts that mayors – including Amarillo’s Ginger Nelson – recently formed.

The group, which also includes mayors from Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland, Odessa and San Angelo, met in a closed meeting Wednesday.

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The demand for locally grown and produced foods in Colorado over the past 10 years has gone from being a mere trend to a lifestyle for many Coloradans.

This according to a recent survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), in collaboration with Colorado State University, about consumer attitudes toward agriculture.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

In what seems to be an overture to the House, Gov. Greg Abbott added two new education-related issues to his special session call Thursday: school finance reform and increased benefits for retired teachers.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

By Aliya Swaby, The Texas Tribune

When curating one's seasonal planting, most veteran gardeners have their favorites. Time-saving green thumbs often prefer perennials, while those attracted to a regular change of scenery might opt for annuals. 

People of the Plains: Coaching Without Words

Jul 19, 2017

Ryan Brigance, better known as Coach Ryan, is a coach, friend, and role model to several people. I am just thankful to be one of them.

Ryan was the owner and head coach of Amarillo Cheer Elite, or ACE. He opened the gym with his parents when he was 21, and sadly, closed it recently at the age of 36. He is newly married and now works as a hot tub mechanic and a part-time school cheer coach.

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The oil and gas industry in Colorado over the past four years has put millions of dollars into campaigns for politicians and for public relations.

As The Denver Post reports, the oil and gas industry has poured more than $80 million into Colorado to shape public opinion and influence campaigns and ballot initiatives, creating a political force that has had broad implications throughout the state.

Kansas Geological Survey

There is hope for the Ogallala Aquifer.

That, according to the Garden City Telegram, is what Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said when they visited Garden City Tuesday.

Ed Uthman / Wikimedia Commons

This year’s regular legislative session ended with one GOP lawmaker calling Federal authorities on a group of peaceful protestors. That move was followed by a scuffle on the floor of the House of Representatives in which that same Republican Congressman, Rep. Matt Rinaldi, threatened to “put a bullet in the head” of one of his Democratic colleagues.

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Newly elected Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson has signed a letter asking Gov. Greg Abbott to reconsider the agenda for the special session that convened on Tuesday in Austin.

As The Amarillo Globe-News­ reports, the letter asserts that some items on the legislative agenda could directly impede the economic growth of Texas cities by taking away the sovereign right of municipalities to govern themselves.

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Many Oklahomans will be forced to change the way they drive after a new law takes effect in November.

As KFOR reports, beginning Nov. 1, drivers will no longer be allowed to travel in the left lane permanently.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Recent polling has shown Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be more popular than the other big-name Republican politicians in the Lone Star State. Abbott is up for re-election next year, and at this point his prospects are rosy.

But, as The Texas Observer reports, Abbott has thrown his full-throated support behind the controversial measure known as SB4, and his stance may be hurting the GOP’s long-term chances in Texas.

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In Texas, the special legislative session began yesterday with lawmakers returning to Austin to try to hash out various lingering issues from the contentious regular session. You might be wondering how much the 30-day special session will cost Texas taxpayers.

50STATES.COM

Several thousand Colorado voters have canceled their registrations since President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requested voter information earlier this month.

As The Denver Post reports, almost 3,400 voters canceled their voter registrations as of July 13, following the Trump administration’s request for voter information.

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