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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Texas University Changes Drug Discipline Policy Amid Suggestion of Racism

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Monday, December 19, 2022   

A fledgling Texas newspaper is claiming credit for a change in policy by the Texas State University System regarding penalties for students found to have illegally possessed, used, sold or distributed drugs, including marijuana.

The year-old Caldwell/Hays Examiner sued the higher education institution in San Marcos to find out the race of students suspended and expelled due to marijuana infractions.

Jordan Buckley, publisher of the paper, said until recently, a student with one drug offense, on or off campus, was subject to discipline ranging from mandatory counseling to expulsion. A second offense meant permanent expulsion. He explained the newspaper believed racism was involved.

"We've heard for a long time in San Marcos that the people being impacted by this policy of 'two strikes and you're expelled' have disproportionately and perhaps exclusively been people of color," Buckley reported.

Texas State previously told Austin's KXAN-TV it does not comment on active litigation. But during a meeting last month, the Board of Regents eliminated the second offense of expulsion from the system's policy.

In the November election, nearly 82% of San Marcos voters approved decriminalizing marijuana possession within the city limits.

Buckley noted the Caldwell/Hays Examiner sued after the school refused to provide requested information, citing students' privacy. He believes the policy change enacted by the Board of Regents is a successful example of grassroots organizing to expose systemic racism.

"It's also, I think, a victory for journalism and for the Open Records Act," Buckley asserted. "The university refused to comply with the Open Records Act and we pressed on."

The newspaper serves Hayes and Caldwell counties, an area between Austin and San Antonio.

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