Wade Goodwyn

Wade Goodwyn is a NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.

Reporting for NPR since 1991, Goodwyn covers a wide range of issues from politics and music to breaking news and crime and punishment. His reports have ranged from weather calamities, religion, and corruption, to immigration, obituaries, business, and high profile court cases. Texas has it all, and Goodwyn has covered it.

Over the last 15 years, Goodwyn has reported on many of the nation's top stories. He's covered the implosion of Enron, the trials of Jeff Skilling and Kenneth Lay, and the prosecution of polygamist Warren Jeffs. Goodwyn's reporting has included the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in Denver. He covered the Olympic Games in Atlanta and the school shootings in Paducah Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., and Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Among his most recent work has been the wrongful prosecution and conviction of black and Hispanic citizens in Texas and Louisiana. With American and Southwest Airlines headquartered in his backyard, coverage of the airline industry is also a constant for Goodwyn.

As Texas has moved to the vanguard in national Republican politics, Goodwyn has been at the front line as what happens politically in Texas, which is often a bellwether of the coming national political debate. He has covered the state's politicians dominating the national stage, including George W. Bush, Tom Delay and rising GOP star Texas Governor Rick Perry

Before coming to NPR, Goodwyn was a political consultant in New York City.

Goodwyn graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in history.

In 2012 a federal court struck down Texas' ID law, ruling it would potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters.

But that federal decision was invalidated when the Supreme Court last year ruled part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. So now Texas is test-driving its voter ID law — one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation.

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In Texas, a federal judge has ruled that the state's new abortion restrictions are unconstitutional and will not take effect tomorrow as scheduled. The decision comes four months after Democratic candidate for governor, Wendy Davis, staged an 11-hour filibuster against the proposed constraints. Texas' attorney general expressed disappointment and vowed to appeal the federal judge's ruling.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn joins us now from Dallas to discuss the case. And, Wade, there were two parts to Judge Lee Yeakel's ruling. What did he say?

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And closing arguments will begin this morning in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan faces the death penalty. He's accused of killing 13 people and shooting 32 others.

From Killeen, Texas, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWIN, BYLINE: The defense rests. With those three words, Major Nidal Hasan put an end to his non-existent defense case. It was a case he never wanted to make, anyway. He began the trial by wishing to plead guilty to the charges, but military law prohibits that in death penalty cases.

The prosecution has wrapped up its case against the former psychiatrist accused of opening fire at Fort Hood, killing 13 people. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is representing himself, will present his case beginning tomorrow.

A new generation of BBQ chefs is making its mark in Texas. We check out a few with Texas Monthly barbecue critic Daniel Vaughn. (This piece originally aired on Morning Edition on July 23, 2013.)

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And let's hear now about a proposed airline merger. In a surprise move, the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will try to stop American Airlines and U.S. Airways from becoming one. This is largely because of two other mergers that made both Delta and United Airlines much bigger. Those deals were approved back in 2008 and 2010. Now, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports from Dallas, the government seems determined to change course.

Army Ranger Justin Slaby served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. While he was back in the U.S. preparing to deploy for a fourth tour, his left hand was blown off by a faulty grenade in a training accident. After being fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthesis, Slaby was encouraged by one of his doctors to try for a career in the FBI. What happened next has landed the ex-Ranger and the FBI in court and already tarnished the career of a high-ranking agent.

It's not even noon yet but every table out front of the Pecan Lodge in downtown Dallas is filled with veterans with barbecue heaped on their plates, smirking at the gobsmacked newbies. First timers are easily discernible by the stunned looks on their faces when they walk in and see the line.

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We've got a series going this week, Texas 20/20, bringing into focus the politics and demographics of a state where the Latino population is growing fast. Texas is a Republican stronghold, and has been for years. Still, the rising number of Latinos offers Democrats an opening. This morning, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports on the current state of the Democratic Party.

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Let's get an update now on another high-profile military case: the trial of Major Nidal Hasan. Hasan is the Army psychiatrist accused of murdering 13 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009. Jury selection in that trial has been delayed until next week, as Hasan gets ready to defend himself. And he said that defense will involve a claim that he was defending people in Afghanistan.

From Dallas, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

The state of Texas is turning down billions of federal dollars that would have paid for health care coverage for 1.5 million poor Texans.

By refusing to participate in Medicaid expansion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, the state will leave on the table an estimated $100 billion over the next decade.

Texas' share of the cost would have been just 7 percent of the total, but for Gov. Rick Perry and the state's Republican-dominated Legislature, even $1 in the name of "Obamacare" was a dollar too much.

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And I'm David Greene. Good morning. The final death toll from that tornado in Moore, Oklahoma is 24. Ten of the dead were children. The search for survivors is over, and now this stunned community begins the long process of rebuilding, which begins with removing a staggering amount of debris. NPR's Wade Goodwyn spent time at City Hall in Moore yesterday.

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In Moore, for the many people whose homes were destroyed, the top priorities are finding a place to stay, some clothes to wear, and food to eat. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has been talking with survivors in Moore, and he sent this story.

Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., took a direct hit by a massive tornado Monday. Children from the school are among the dozens confirmed dead.

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Nearly 10,000 mourners gathered yesterday to honor the men who died fighting a fire in a fertilizer plant in Texas. They packed the basketball arena on the campus of Baylor University in Waco. At least 14 people died when that fire led to an explosion in the little town of West - which is just north of Waco.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

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President Obama visited Waco, Texas, on Thursday day to take part in a memorial for those killed in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last week.

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President Obama travels to another memorial today, this one in the Texas town of West. It is to remember those killed last week when a fertilizer plant exploded there. Yesterday, some of those living in homes closest to the plant were allowed back for the first time. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was there.

With the house-to-house search over and the living and dead largely accounted for, the town of West, Texas, began the transition from shock and disbelief to communal grieving.

On Friday night, mourners gathered at St. Mary Church of the Assumption to remember the dead. Many of the dead were first responders who were fighting a roaring fire for 30 minutes before the explosion, which was felt 80 miles away in Fort Worth.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn caused a stir when he suggested that there might be many more people missing than thought.

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We're going to touch briefly now on another dramatic story, the deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West. Authorities now confirm that the death toll has risen to 12. That's how many bodies have been recovered so far. The cause of the fire and subsequent blast on Wednesday night are still unknown. From West, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

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And let's turn now, briefly, to West, Texas, the scene of this week's fertilizer plant explosion. Many questions remain unanswered there. In fact, it's still hard to estimate how many people were killed. We do know that regulators had a few concerns with this plant in the past, though it's not clear if anybody questioned the plant's location near homes and a school.

And amid all these questions, the people of West are picking up and taking stock. Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. We're learning a little more, today, about the devastation in the small town of West, in Texas. It was the scene of last night's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant. And while there's still no official word on the number of dead, authorities estimate that between five and 15 people were killed. More than 160 were injured.

This story is part of a two-part series about the construction industry in Texas. Find the first part here.

Homes in Texas are cheap — at least compared with much of the country. You can buy a brand new, five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house near Fort Worth for just $160,000.

But that affordability comes at a price — to workers, many of whom are in the country illegally and make $12 an hour or less, but also to business owners.

Like almost everything in the Texas, the construction industry in the Lone Star State is big. One in every 13 workers here is employed in the state's $54 billion-per-year construction industry.

Homebuilding and commercial construction may be an economic driver for the state, but it's also an industry riddled with hazards. Years of illegal immigration have pushed wages down, and accidents and wage fraud are common. Of the nearly 1 million workers laboring in construction here, approximately half are undocumented.

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Now former Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling could be released early from federal prison, as part of a reduced sentencing agreement under consideration at the Justice Department. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the collapse of the energy trading giant.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn has more.

Kaufman County, Texas, is holding a memorial service Thursday for its fallen district attorney and his wife. Mike and Cynthia McLelland were gunned down in their home over the weekend following the assassination of the county's assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, nearly two months ago.

The McLellands were shot multiple times by an assailant with an assault rifle so now Texas law enforcement has its assault rifles on display and at the ready.

There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.

Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.

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In Texas, a court of inquiry has been convened to consider prosecuting a Texas judge. He's Ken Anderson. He used to be the district attorney in Williamson County, Texas, and he could face criminal charges for concealing exculpatory evidence. That's evidence that could clear a defendant of guilt. The inquiry concerns his conduct during what has become an infamous case - the prosecution and conviction of Michael Morton. Morton was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. NPR's Wade Goodwin reports.

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In his inaugural address yesterday, President Obama pressed Americans to put aside mindless partisanship. He said we cannot treat name-calling as reasoned debate. At the same time, he strongly defended his political views, voicing support for gay rights and the role of government.

The crowd of supporters out on the National Mall liked it. Republicans watching in Texas had a different view. Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

JASON'S GRANDMOTHER: You want to do it?

Another member of the Bush family is throwing his hat into the political ring: George Prescott Bush, 36, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has announced he is running for office in Texas.

The Bush name is still strong in the Lone Star State: George P. has already raised nearly $1.4 million, though he still hasn't said which statewide office he will run for.

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