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50states.com

Some Colorado lawmakers are trying to clear the backlog in the state’s driver’s license program for people living in the US illegally.

As The Denver Post reports, a proposal introduced last week would allow applicants to use a Social Security number as part of their application instead of just an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, because allowing only the latter, advocates say, has cut out a host of otherwise eligible applicants.

Roy Luck / Flickr Creative Commons

Renewable wind and solar energy, along with a booming natural gas industry, continue to win the battle over coal in Texas.

As The Huntsville Tribune reports, last year Texas lost 455 coal-mining jobs, more than any other state. And the state’s biggest power supplier, Luminant, announced that it would be shuttering two massive coal-fired plants this year.

The Texas Tribune

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, due to a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements. 

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Using a District of Innovation plan, districts can create a comprehensive educational program and identify provisions under Texas law that would inhibit their goals.

A big, leafy-green high five to two of Amarillo's favorite urban farm-to-table advocates: Brady Clark, Executive Director of Square Mile Community Development, and Danny Melius, Founder & Market Gardener of Nuke City Veg. 

They say, “Every rose has its thorn,” but not the beautiful blooms cropping up on today’s Growing on the High Plains. Nor do they require watering, pruning, or pest control—and yet they give new meaning to the word “perennial!”

GARDEN CITY! 

Don't miss Colorado-based folksinger RUPERT WATES, live in concert for the first time at our HPPR Living Room Concert Series! 

CC0 Public Domain

While the solar industry, as a whole, lost jobs between 2016 and 2017, Colorado saw growth in solar energy jobs. 

According to Greentech Media, the solar industry lost 9,800 jobs between 2016 and 2017 – the first drop recorded since the National Jobs Census began collecting data in 2010.

wbu.edu

Wayland Baptist University officials announced this week that the university has received an anonymous gift of $8 million, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The money came from one of the college’s alumni, and it’s the largest single cash donation the institution has ever received.

University President Bobby Hall praised the donation, saying, “Words cannot express how grateful we are for the generosity of this gift.”

Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

The State of Texas may soon close some of its state-run juvenile prisons, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The juvenile prisons have been the focus of controversy in recent months, and the newly installed executive director of the beleaguered Texas Juvenile Justice Department hopes to change that image.

Intropin / Wikimedia Commons

A private organization announced this week that it is supplying every sheriff’s department in Oklahoma with a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

In a speech to a joint session of the Legislature Wednesday, Gov. Jeff Colyer said he will make it easier and cheaper for Kansans to get information about their government.  

Click on the article to access audio of Colyer’s entire address. 

Sometimes, one's morning radio show gets REALLY CLASSY when classical performance musicians show up with instruments and an amp. And thankfully, "sometimes" was today!

High Plains Morning thanks our esteemed partners at Amarillo College for the live, in-studio mini-concert on High Plains Morning. It was our pleasure to host Camille Day Nies (viola), Tiffany McDaniel (violin), and Dr. Diego Caetano (piano).   

Two Kinds of People

Feb 7, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

When I began Michael Morpurgo's children's book War Horse, I didn't know what to think. Though I love historical fiction, animal stories were never at the top of my reading list, and I haven't read a children's book since ... well, since I was child as far as I can remember. Though the book was much-praised even before Steven Spielberg filmed it in 2011, somehow it had flown under my radar, and frankly, telling the story of World War I from the viewpoint of a horse sounded to me like a cheap gimmick.

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he plans to continue his crusade to curb what he calls an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas, reports The Texas Observer.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General remains under felony indictment for allegedly violating state securities law. Paxton sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Election Integrity this week, in which he outlined his plan to purge voter rolls of non-citizens and to ensure that voters aren’t registered in multiple states.

Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

Dozens of small and rural utilities in the state have for years provided water that contains illegal levels of radiation, lead and arsenic. Lack of resources is largely to blame — but there's more to it than that.

From The Texas Tribune:

LARS P / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Approximately one-quarter of rural Colorado households have no access to broadband internet, making it difficult to compete for residents or businesses, but a proposal to help bridge that gap is gaining traction in the legislature.

Wikimedia Commons

An influential Texas conservative group mailed letters to school district employees across the state last week, asking for them to report teachers who they believe are trying to accomplish liberal political objectives in Texas classrooms.

As reported in The Dallas Morning News, the letter from Empower Texans asked educators to report “suspicious activities” among their fellow teachers.

Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

The Oklahoma Legislative Session for 2018 began yesterday. Here are some facts about the Sooner State’s legislative body, courtesy of The Tulsa World.

The regular legislative session begins each year on the first Monday of February.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

A prominent policy expert wrote an editorial in The New York Times this week predicting that the recently passed Republican tax plan could result in a Democratic wave in 2020, if not this November.

From the Mouth of . . .

Feb 5, 2018
Pintrest

Hi, this is Daniel Helbert for HPPR’s Radio Reader’s Book Club coming to you today from Canyon, Texas.

For this installment about Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, I want to think a little about one of the more distinguishing features of the novel: namely, that it is narrated by a horse.

CC0 Creative Commons

According to recent polls, Texans are for the most part no great fans of President Donald Trump. But, as the online statistics blog fivethirtyeight.com notes, Trump’s abysmal polling numbers in the Lone Star State don’t necessarily signal a Democratic wave in Texas’s upcoming November elections.

Wikimedia Commons

A controversial new bill in Oklahoma would allow the state to chemically castrate sex offenders, reports TIME magazine.

The proposed law is being sponsored by Rep. Rick West, a Republican from the small southeastern Oklahoma town of Heavener. If the bill passes, sex offenders who are released back into society would be required to take drugs that lower testosterone and decrease sexual libido.

Courtesy

Several years ago, my husband went through a beef jerky stage.  Actually, it was more of a preserved meat stage, because he didn’t just eat beef, and he didn’t just eat jerky.   We had beef sticks, horseradish salami, summer sausage, pepperoni, turkey bites, steak strips, garlic infused pemmican, hot and spicy links, Slim Jims, barbecued bacon chunks, jalapeno pickled sausages, chili-mango pork nuggets.  Open our snack cupboard and you’d see the equivalent of Bubba Gump’s shrimp products in dried flesh in there.

Luke Clayton

In today's show, Luke talks about a recent hog hunt he enjoyed with his friend Jeff Rice on Jeff's ranch, The Buck and Bass.

Jeff's ranch is located on the upper end of Lake Fork in East Texas and is home to countless wild hogs. Luke connected with a fat 100-pounder and turned the backstraps into what he describes as, "The best pork I've even eaten".

Here's Luke's recipe: 

The Importance of Chapter 15

Feb 2, 2018
Library of Congress

Hello, my name is Luke Hamilton, I am a junior at Colby High School, and I will be talking about Michael Morpurgo’s book, War Horse.

In this story, war is narrated by a staunch and wholehearted horse named Joey. Like Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, themes like death, duty, companionship, and war are outlined throughout. But in stark contrast to Hemingway’s downplayed and existential storytelling, War Horse gives a more emotional and positive perspective. Morpurgo wrote this way to show his readers the humanity and hope that can exist in war.

David Purser / Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma is the number two producer of wind energy in the United States.

Yet, as The Christian Science Monitor reports, the Sooner State has recently soured on this form of renewable energy.

Due to the state’s crippling budget woes, in addition to pressure from the state’s powerful oil and gas lobby, Oklahoma has been phasing out the key tax incentives that had, in large part, been responsible for the booming wind industry in the state.

Jonathan Baker

A massive crowd gathered in a large dirt field in downtown Amarillo yesterday to witness the groundbreaking of the city’s new baseball stadium. Mayor Ginger Nelson delivered a heartfelt speech to the throngs who had amassed on a chilly February afternoon.

Mayor Nelson was joined by the team’s new general manager, as well as D.G. Elmore and his father Dave Elmore, owners of the group who are moving the new AA baseball team from its former home in San Antonio.  

Our Turn At This Earth: Full Speed Ahead

Feb 1, 2018
USGS

In the mid-1980s my father got a letter from the Kansas Water Office warning that, from then on, farmers who didn’t report their annual water use would be fined. This was long before our Groundwater Management District began requiring meters on irrigation wells, so we would have to extrapolate the amount of water we’d pumped that year from utility bills for the natural gas that powered our five well engines.

In a time when good news and brotherly love sometimes seems to be at a low ebb, it's nice to know there are brilliant ideas still soaring through the minds of gifted innovators. Today's Growing on the High Plains shares the story of a British aeronautics engineer that's exploring novel methods to provide food aid to those in need. Spurred by war or natural disasters, critical food shortages have become all too common in our troubled times, but this man's solution warmed my gardening heart.

reservoirhill / Wikimedia Commons

News of Oklahoma’s struggling public education system has now reached London, where the legendary news magazine The Economist published an analysis this week of the state’s pervasive and seemingly insurmountable school funding issues.

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