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State of the Union and Early Literacy: Houston Matters for Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015

President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night. He covered a wide range of issues, many of which are especially relevant to Houston and Texas. As a new, Republican-controlled Congress looked on, the President reiterated veto threats should Congress “put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance…or […]

President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night. He covered a wide range of issues, many of which are especially relevant to Houston and Texas. As a new, Republican-controlled Congress looked on, the President reiterated veto threats should Congress “put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance…or [refight] past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix.”

But health care and immigration are not the only issues he raised, which may be top of mind for Houstonians. The same day trial proceedings got under way over the rejected challenge to Houston’s equal rights ordinance, President Obama noted America’s responsibility to, among other things, “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” In so doing, he became the first U.S. President to utter the words “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” in a State of the Union address.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we hear local reaction, and consider the implications of these and other statements by the President for Houston and Texas. First, we talk with area lawmakers John Culberson and Gene Green: Congressman Culberson is a Republican who represents the 7th Congressional district serving western portions of Greater Houston, including Bellaire, Neartown, West U, and Jersey Village. Congressman Green is a Democrat representing the 29th Congressional district, serving eastern portions of Greater Houston, including Galena Park, South Houston, and sections of Baytown and Pasadena.

Then, we consider the implications of some of the issues raised Tuesday night for Houston and the rest of Texas, as we welcome your thoughts for Kevin Diaz, Washington Correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, and Paul Brace, the Clarence L. Carter Chair of Legal Studies in the Department of Political Science at Rice University.

Also this hour: We learn about a Houston-based nonprofit education program’s study examining the impact of specialized teacher training on developing kids’ early literacy skills. We talk with Marybeth Flachbart, President & CEO of Neuhaus Education Center, about the study and its findings, and what it may signal about how early children can be effectively taught the very basics of reading and writing.

Plus: This week, Houston has been hosting the 2015 International Low Impact Development Conference. Low impact development is a land planning and engineering design technique aimed at managing storm water and runoff closer to where the rain initially fell. We talk with Justin Ring, an engineer with the local firm EHRA about the concept.

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