• Student interest rates on loans double today

    Student loan interest rates doubled Monday as a result of an impasse in Washington, leaving college students waiting for action on the rates when Congress returns from its July 4th holiday.

    Interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans increased from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1 after Congress was unable to extend the lower rates. UT officials say this increase will increase the average student’s debt by almost $2,600. Both sides of Congress have pledged to resolve the issue before the fall, when most students begin taking out their loans.

    Republicans have proposed linking student loans to financial markets instead of letting the federal lending rates be set by congress. President Barack Obama and other Democrats have resisted that approach and insisted on other long-term solutions.

    According to state data, 85 percent of student aid in Texas comes from federal loans, which is 9 percent above the national average. The state currently ranks second in the number of students who take out federally subsidized loans.

  • The Morning Texan: Second special session starts, PCL under construction and more

    Monday will be mostly sunny with a high of 94 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That is much cooler than Friday’s high of 103 degrees.

    The Texas legislature will convene at 2 p.m. on Monday for the start of the second special session. Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for a second special session after Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, successfully killed abortion legislation with a filibuster last week. Abortion restrictions, transportation funding and juvenile sentencing are all expected to be considered during the second special session. More than 6,000 people are expected to show up at the Capitol on Monday for various rallies and events happening in response to the second special session.

    This weekend’s most read article: Sophomore Longhorn point guard Myck Kabongo was not drafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was passed over by 13 other point guards through 60 total picks.

    What you have to read: The PCL is under construction to create a student services desk that will include both circulation and reference services in an effort to expand study space and consolidate services.

    In case you missed it: Aerospace engineering assistant professor Nanshu Lu has created a small flexible tattoo that can monitor vital signs, power itself and transmit data in a more compact way than the bulky options available today.

  • First abortion bill of second special session filed by Dan Patrick

    Update: A second bill on abortion has been filed in the second special session. 

    HB 2, filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, is the second bill. The text is not online yet, but the caption says "Relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities; providing penalties."

    Original Story:

    The first abortion bill of the second special session has been filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

    The bill, SB9, is "relating to distributing or prescribing abortion-inducing drugs." The text for the bill is not online yet. As of 11:42 a.m. on Friday, SB9 is the only abortion-related bill filed.

    Patrick is the same senator who declared on Thursday he would be running for the lieutenant governor position. In a press release following the announcement, Patrick said the senate needed leadership that was "unapologetically conservative." Current Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who is the leadership in the Texas Senate, has been criticized by several Texas Republicans for the way he handeled the filibuster of the first special session's abortion legislation.

    Abortion legislation failed to pass in the first special session because of a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announed he was calling a second special session on abortion, transportation funding and juvenile sentencing. Transportation funding and juvenile sentencing were also on the call for the first special session, but failed to pass.

    The governor is the only one who can call a special session, and he is the only one who can tell the legislative bodies what they may consider during the special session.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • The Morning Texan: 104 degree high, video games and more

    Friday's temperature may reach 104 degrees according to the National Weather Service, but things are bound to cool off a little bit this weekend when a few thunderstorms roll in. There is a 10 percent chance for rain Saturday, and a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday evening.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday’s most read article online: Rick Perry has called a second special session and has included abortion, transportation and juvenile sentencing on the call.

    In case you missed it: UT is partnering up with Paul Sams, the chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment, to create a new video game academy. The program is expected to open in the fall of 2014.

    What you have to read: Lawmakers have already started filing bills in the second special session. No abortion related bills have been filed — yet.

  • Texas Republicans gunning for David Dewhurst's job

    Since the chaotic end to the Texas Legislature’s first special session Tuesday, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has gained opponents for the 2014 election for his position.

    Texas Senator Dan Patrick, Houston-R announced Thursday he will run for lieutenant governor because the Senate is in need of leadership that is “unapologetically conservative.” While making the announcement, Patrick criticized Dewhurst's leadership abilities during the filibuster Tuesday night.

    Patrick said although the position is said to be the most powerful in the state and Republicans have held it for more than a decade, little has been done to further conservative initiatives including border security, debt and property tax relief. 

    Patrick supported the 2011 sonogram bill requiring Texas women to have an ultrasound and known details of a fetus at least 24-hour prior to an abortion.

    The special session ended after an 11-hour filibuster to block abortion legislation by Texas Senator Wendy Davis, Fort Worth-D. Debate about proper procedure and handling of the filibuster lasted until nearly midnight, when the Senate gallery’s cheering crowd overwhelmed the room and halted action on the floor.

    A vote on the bill was taken minutes after midnight, when the special session finished, with more than 100,000 online viewers watching. The vote prompted senators and reporters to document the vote’s listed date as June 26, before it was altered online and in print copies to June 25.

    Patrick joins two others who previously announced their run against Dewhurst  —Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

    Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @christine_ayala.