5/30/2024 6:51:44 AM
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State of Texas: Cornyn weighs in on school protests, foreign aid

State of Texas: Cornyn weighs in on school protests, foreign aid

AUSTIN-- Protests versus the continuous war in Gaza erupted last week at the University of Texas at Austin and its system schools, triggering dispute about totally free speech on college campuses.

UT authorities contacted DPS officers in riot gear, together with UT and Austin authorities departments, to contain the demonstration and prevent encampments. Police jailed 57 people on criminal trespass charges, all of which were dropped.

" It was in light of what had occurred in Columbia, for instance, and Yale and other locations around the country where the thing had actually intensified and spun out of control," said Texas Sen. John Cornyn in an interview with KXAN.

" The University of Texas here in Austin wanted to make certain that while they appreciated the totally free speech rights of the protesters, as they should, that the rights of the students to pursue their education wasn't impinged upon, or that it didn't become violent. I think they were very ready," he continued.

The university argued the protest would have infringed on other trainees' rights by interfering with the campus during finals. The arrests stimulated disappointments about totally free speech securities among protestors.

Kevin Lawrence, with the Texas Municipal Police Association, stated officers are trained to identify when a demonstration crosses the line.

" All rights under the Constitution are limited at the point where your workout of that right infringes on the rights of other people," Lawrence said. "Law enforcement officers are taught complimentary speech stops to be totally free speech when it ends up being disorderly conduct."

Dripped memo exposes inside details of UT's protest reaction

JT Morris, a senior attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, stated that action might total up to preemptive censorship. The company supporters for First Amendment Rights.

" What the university should have done is alert the students 'If you do engage in conduct that breaches neutral, affordable time/place/manner constraints or you do participate in violence, then we will act.' They should not have attempted to cancel a demonstration and preempt, what turned out to be a really tranquil procedure ahead of time," Morris stated.

Cornyn is one of 26 Republicans in the Senate to sign a letter to the attorney general of the United States and education secretary stating the government requires to do something about it to "bring back order and safeguard Jewish trainees on our college campuses." That letter came out one day before the demonstrations on the UT campus.

" It's tough to say and generalize that everybody who's opposing Israel's reaction to the Hamas attacks is anti semitic, but definitely some of it is," Cornyn said, "and I believe it's important to make sure that people comprehend that this could draw out of control."

In response to the protests' calls for ceasefire, Cornyn said that's impractical.

" If there was a ceasefire, Israel would put down its arms, however Hamas would not," he stated. "It's crucial for individuals to be informed and informed about the entire picture and the context in which it is taking place and not simply looking at it like you're looking through a soda straw."

Last week, Congress passed a multi-billion dollar aid package for Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and Taiwan. Cornyn voted in favor of the costs.

" We are whether we like it or not the important leader to keep world peace," Cornyn stated, "and we do that through our military strength and supporting our allies."

" History does have a method of duplicating itself. I believed it was extremely essential not to encourage Putin to continue his march across Ukraine, where I do not think he will stop, and to avoid bigger regional and possibly even worse conflicts," he included.

Cornyn is already mentioned as a prospective Republican leader of the Senate after November's elections. "I 'd like to get the Senate back working again, to attempt to fix issues on a bipartisan basis and aid move the nation forward and hopefully make the remainder of the country a little bit more like Texas," Cornyn stated.

Brand-new nationwide nursing home staffing guidelines deal with pushback

Vice President Kamala Harris revealed an unmatched guideline needing minimum staffing standards in retirement home nationwide has actually been finalized, according to the White House.

In a news release on Monday, the White House said this guideline will provide on a pledge from President Joe Biden's 2022 State of the Union "to crack down on nursing homes that threaten resident security."

The settled staffing requirements appear to mirror the 2023 proposition from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Medicare & & Medicaid Services (CMS). It will require any experienced nursing center that receives federal financing through Medicare and Medicaid to provide 0.55 hours of care from a signed up nurse to each resident every day, as well as 2.45 hours of care from a nurse aide. It will likewise need centers to have a registered nurse onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

BACKGROUND: First-of-its-kind retirement home staffing minimum proposed. Will it safeguard Texas homeowners?

" When centers are understaffed, locals might go without basic requirements like baths, trips to the restroom, and meals-- and it is less safe when citizens have a medical emergency situation," the White House release reads.

Harris made the announcement before a journey to Wisconsin, where she is expected to speak to nursing home employees about their work, according to the Associated Press.

The assisted living home industry has been ringing alarm bells about staffing lacks-- intensified by the pandemic-- for many years. Leaders in the market grumbled the proposed requirements would be hard for facilities to meet.

At the time, CMS estimated roughly 75% of assisted living home would need to enhance staffing in their facilities in order to meet the brand-new requirements.

After Monday's statement, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which represents more than 14,000 assisted living home and other long-term care facilities, called the requirements "unreasonable.".

AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a declaration that "releasing a final guideline that requires numerous countless additional caretakers when there's a nationwide shortfall of nurses just produces an impossible task for companies. This unfunded mandate does not amazingly resolve the nursing crisis.".

Parkinson also stated he was "struggling and dissatisfied" to see the rule move on, regardless of issues from legislators, professionals and stakeholders.

Previously this year, the proposed rule modification fired up pushback from a mainly Republican coalition of congressional agents. U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minnesota, submitted HR 7513, an expense intended to thwart the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from finalizing the rules for minimum staffing standards.

At a March hearing of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Fischbach explained the proposal as a "one-size-fits-all" required that many retirement home - - particularly in rural areas - - would not be able to adhere to.

" These facilities are already struggling to preserve their staffing levels and have an even more difficult time discovering brand-new personnel to fill positions," she said at the hearing. "But the Biden Administration simply does not comprehend the issue-- which comes as no surprise, given that they do not comprehend rural America.".

United States lawmakers battle over how to manage assisted living home staffing.

Given That the White House has actually announced the rule's completion, it isn't clear what impact Fischbach's law would have. Her expense, which was cosponsored by 19 Republicans and one Democrat, remains pending. The costs would require to pass the U.S. House and Senate and be signed by Biden to become law, according to congressional records.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, has been supportive of carrying out staffing requirements and even led more than 100 other legislators to pen a letter encouraging CMS to reinforce the staffing requirements.

" While a lot more is needed to guarantee adequate care and resident safety, I am pleased that this represents some hope of better care for susceptible nursing citizens with intricate medical requirements," said Doggett following Monday's announcement. "I will continue to work with the more than 100 associates who joined me in urging stronger requirements to provide the very best care to our aging and disabled member of the family.".

Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer for AARP, called the final rule "long-overdue" and included that it will assist secure proficient nursing homeowners' "fundamental rights.".

In her declaration, LeaMond said in part, "It is outrageous that nursing homes getting taxpayer dollars through Medicaid and Medicare haven't been needed to provide quality care through particular minimum staffing standards until now. Far a lot of locals and families have actually experienced awful effects since of inadequately staffed facilities.".

Texas stopped working to totally fund system flagging those who shouldn't work with kids

On Megan Tabor's big day to Kasey Calvery, there was no chance to expect the discomfort her husband-to-be would cause. Nearly 20 years later, they're separated-- and he is at a state jail in Huntsville, Texas, convicted of sexually abusing a member of Tabor's family.

The woman whom Calvery abused came forward years after the abuse ended, and when she did, Tabor stated it was to stop him from hurting someone else.

" It struck too near to home. She couldn't keep quiet anymore," Tabor stated.

Her courage and a court filing in what ended up being a criminal case against Calvery for continuous sexual assault exposed a history of misconduct extending far beyond their family. It highlighted systemic problems with how Texas vets individuals who work around kids and how, over the years, tries to close the loopholes in Texas have fallen short.

50 In February 2023, Lampasas district attorneys filed a two-page letter noting accusations versus Calvery dating back to his time as a firefighter in Longview, Texas. Years before he started teaching, the court filing showed the city of Longview required Calvery to resign after a fellow firefighter accused him of touching her breast.

At his next job as a paramedic in Copperas Cove, court and personnel records reveal he was fired after he admitted to wrongly touching a client in the back of an ambulance.

As a result, Texas Health and Human Services emergency situation suspended his license in 2008, and a regional press reporter even composed a post on the incident in the paper. Because it was a personnel matter, the City of Copperas Cove declined to comment even more.

Austin tutor's arrest reveals 'cracks' in how Texas vets school employees.

In spite of his past, court records reveal he went on to work around kids. At a domestic center in Goldthwaite for kids and girls with behavioral and emotional problems called New Horizons. HHSC inspection reports reveal that at one point, he was prohibited from physically limiting the children there for 60 days and put on a restorative action plan.

Calvery then went to work as a behavioral intervention teacher at Lampasas Independent School District in 2012, and then as a special education instructor at Copperas Cove Independent School District up until 2018. He was a special education teacher and coach at Ector County Independent School District up until an Odessa High School student reported sexual abuse in 2020.

A grand jury in Ector County chose not to prosecute Calvery based on the report at Odessa High School, but news of the choice was the catalyst for Tabor's family member to go to authorities about her own abuse.

Calvery did not react to the letter we sent him in prison, and his attorney did not supply a declaration after a number of emails asking concerns about his client.

Calvery's work history highlights why, in recent years, Texas legislators have actually passed bills addressing the state's problems with background checks that lead to bad stars gaining work around vulnerable populations.

" Evil is always going to discover a crack to try to slip through, and our task is to expose those cracks and after that repair those fractures," said Texas State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.

In 2023, on the heels of a backgrounding concern at a Bastrop domestic center for sex-trafficked teenagers, Kolkhorst's Senate Bill 1849 sought to produce one search engine that enabled access to do-not-hire databases from the Texas Education Agency, Juvenile Justice Department, Health and Human Services and the Department of Family Protective Services.

Former Austin ISD tutor was banned from working in state juvenile detention.

The state needs school districts and other facilities that take care of kids to run background checks on workers. These checks can produce rap sheets but do not clearly reveal state firm misconduct records and do-not-hire warnings. The online search engine would permit employers access to one central repository to screen for red flags in a prospective employee's history.

In spite of the bill's passing, the strategy to create the search engine still has fractures. Disciplinary records on law enforcement officers kept by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement are not set to be included. This implies companies would possibly lose out on records showing whether a prospective staff member is a previous officer whose TCOLE license has been suspended or withdrawed over misconduct. The information would just be right away readily available to schools or other cops departments for employing.

According to the company, while HHSC's Misconduct Registry will be available through the search engine, its licensing data will not. The licensing search was the only question that kept in mind a disciplinary concern with Calvery until 2024. It revealed the emergency situation suspension of Calvery's EMT license in 2008 following the claims that he inappropriately touched a client.

" Yeah, that would be something that could be consisted of, for sure," Kolkhorst stated. However it's a fix she said will likely need to come from additional legislation.

Previous Austin ISD tutor and juvenile corrections officer deals with more charges of indecency with kids.

" You're type of looking at, now, we're going to spread out 1849 out," Kolkhorst stated.

Some of this information, including HHSC's license search, is available online, lots of school districts and other employers in kid settings limit their searches and recommendation checks to the work history provided by a task candidate. In the case of Calvery, Ector CISD officials stated he left several of his previous work experiences off his resume, including his time at Longview Fire Department, Copperas Cove Fire Department and New Horizons.

That's the main problem the search engine intends to repair by creating one central repository for employers to browse a name and see results from numerous agencies' misbehavior records; even those the company is not knowledgeable about would have records on the prospect.

KXAN found the legislation is likewise dealing with funding challenges. Officials with Texas Health and Human Services informed KXAN that extra legislative resources during the next session would be necessary to execute SB 1849 and begin utilizing the online search engine.

The Department of Information Resources, or DIR, is entrusted with designing the search engine. Lawmakers appropriated $8 million in the last routine session for the project. Kolkhorst said the online search engine is projected to cost between $17 million and $23 million.

" They said, ‘‘ here's the seed money [...] since it won't be achieved if we put the total in upfront, you know, it'll sit idle,'" Kolkhorst stated. "I understand that everyone have a commitment. I believe Senate Bill 1849 was consentaneous, and it will be funded, and it will be completely funded and functional.".

The law needs DIR and all the taking part state firms to go into a memorandum of understanding, defining each firm's functions and responsibilities in developing and maintaining the database. However, nearly 8 months after the bill ended up being law, agency officials say they have actually not signed an agreement.

The memorandum is being prepared, but according to DIR authorities, it will not be completed up until after the evaluation and work plan are completed to figure out each firm's responsibilities and functions.

In April, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick included SB 1849 to the list of concerns he desires legislators to study and recommend enhancements before the next legal session.

Both Kolkhorst and Sen. Paul Bettencourt currently pledged to file brand-new legislation that adds school contractors to the list of school workers that the Texas Education Agency can investigate. Issue professionals might then be added to the company's Do Not Hire list and consequently to the awaited online search engine.

A closer look at background checks, amid exploitation investigation at Bastrop facility.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath highlighted his firm's failure to oblige school districts to report specialists for supposed misconduct in a letter to Bettencourt. He wrote it following KXAN's investigation into a non-profit tutor who had the ability to get an assignment at an Austin Independent School District high school. Records reveal that, at the exact same time, TJJD was examining him for sexual misbehavior.

Kolkhorst said the search engine requires to be available to school districts immediately but included it will likely not be operational up until fall 2025. HHSC authorities said in hearings on SB 1849 that the search engine will be launched in stages. In the very first phase, the TEA, DFPS, HHSC, and TJJD will have access to the online search engine. Gain access to will be expanded in the second phase.

Calvery is set to be in prison for 25 years, but while he is imprisoned, and likely still when he gets out, his name will remain in the TEA's Do Not Hire database. The company included his name and withdrawed his mentor certificate after he was convicted in August.

Records of Calvery's misconduct are spread and fragmented across the state. Numerous documents showing Calvery's work history have actually been purged from the city, school districts and centers where he used to be used since of the state laws dictating how long records should be stored.

Copperas Cove ISD authorities said it purged district files on Calvery in September 2023, a month after supplying his records to KXAN in a public details request. The district stated the purge was because of the district's retention schedule. In action to our follow-up questions about the workers file we got and Calvery's time at the district, authorities said they might not respond because they no longer had the documents in their possession.

New Horizon authorities stated they no longer have records on Calvery and, therefore, can't discuss him because of for how long ago he worked there. The program administrator stated the state just needs centers to maintain records for a year after an employee's last work date.

If not for his conviction, records on Calvery's history would have most likely gone out of the general public record entirely, expanding the blind spots for those delegated with safeguarding the most vulnerable.

Initiative intends to boost mental health care in Uvalde and surrounding area

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday a $34 million effort aimed at bolstering mental health services in Uvalde.

Building for a new behavioral health campus in Uvalde is anticipated to start later this year, according to a press release from the guv's office. The task intends to help kids and adults coming to grips with mental health crises in Uvalde and throughout 32 counties in the surrounding area.

The proposed facility will include a 16-bed crisis unit for grownups and a devoted wing for youths, including a 16-bed crisis unit customized for adolescents and children. The focus of the school will be on crisis stabilization and offering day-and-night support to individuals undergoing psychological health emergencies. In addition, the center will work as a designated 24/7 diversion center, inviting individuals and walk-ins referred by police.

" Our communities prosper when Texans feel safe and healthy, and the State of Texas remains steadfast in its efforts to expand the reach of vital psychological health resources," Abbott said in a declaration.

Previous Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin said the need for this facility long preceded the May 2022 mass shooting in their neighborhood, in which a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers. A House Committee investigative report on the shooting found the shooter had a history of psychological health problems and missed out on warning signs.

" We have no help in rural Texas for it, not just in Uvalde however all over rural Texas," he stated. "Right now, if the county judges have somebody that they need to deal with or seek to get help, or to be assessed-- we've had a drive away as far away as Texarkana, Texas to discover the bed.".

McLaughlin said he has actually spent the last nine or two years advocating for more mental health resources in Uvalde or surrounding counties.

Dr. Bob Cuyler-- the chief scientific officer of Freespira Inc.-- applauded the state's effort in building this center, worrying the importance of crisis intervention when it concerns preventing an indivudal from damaging themselves or others.

" There's sort of a magic moment where often times you can intervene quickly and help stabilize a crisis so that it might not develop into a requirement for an extended hospitalization," he said. "That's not always the case. It was an award winning and incredible service for kind of a comparable group in East Texas to the counties around Uvalde.".

Cuyler stated his most significant concern for the task is finding adequate staffing for these centers, suggesting a hybrid of in-person treatment and telehealth for specific types of care might assist with staffing.

" It's a lot much easier to build buildings than it is to staff with mental health specialists. It is a genuine challenge to hire mental health experts to backwoods, I do not understand to what extent they might use, you know, telemedicine as part of their staffing solution," he stated.

The project is set to be operated by Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers under a contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The City of Uvalde has assigned seven acres of land at U.S. 90 and King Fisher Lane to accommodate the school, which will consist of two various structures, covering approximately 50,000 square feet.

During the 88th Legislative Session, Abbott signed House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 30 into law, earmarking $33.6 million for the construction of the Uvalde Behavioral Health Campus. An extra $5 million was allocated for the facility's inaugural year of operation.

The brand-new behavioral health campus is set up to open its doors in the summertime of 2025.


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Elwood Hill

Elwood Hill is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years' of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, John has worked on a variety of different stories and assignments including national politics, local sports, and international business news. Elwood graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and immediately began working for Breaking Now News as lead journalist.

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