Category: State News

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South Texas Hit with Hard Rain, Hail and Possible Tornadoes

lighteningHOUSTON (AP) — Thunderstorms and torrential rain Friday brought possible tornadoes in South Texas, flooding to Houston and lightning that police said caused an explosion sending flames into the air from an oil tank south of San Antonio. Forecasters said more severe weather is expected in the state. In Houston, some creeks and bayous filled to their banks and drivers found water reaching nearly to car bumpers. In South Texas, funnel clouds were reported near Victoria and Beeville. Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva blamed lightning for an explosion Friday at an oil tank in Karnes City, south of San Antonio, sending flames more than 100 feet into the air. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, nearly 3 inches of rain was measured in Parker County.

Texas Veterinarian Fired, Being Investigated for Cat Death

Kristen Lindsey-Tx vet kills catBRENHAM (AP) — A Texas veterinarian has been fired from her job and authorities are looking into whether animal cruelty charges should be pursued against her after she’s shown in a Facebook posting holding a feral cat she says she killed with a bow and arrow. Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes says the image is disturbing and it’s the “kind of stuff that shouldn’t happen in our society.” He says the results of his department’s investigation will be turned over to the county’s district attorney for possible charges. The veterinarian, identified as Kristen Lindsey, was fired Friday from her job at a clinic in Brenham, about 100 miles northwest of Houston.

Blue Bell Working to Get Past Listeria Contamination Scare

Blue Bell Ice Cream logoAUSTIN (AP) — Blue Bell Creameries will survive the crisis caused by a recent recall of products prompted by a finding of bacterial contamination in some of its products, experts said, but they say it will take a lot of work and a lot of money. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this month that three people in Texas had the same strain of listeria bacteria linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products previously found in five others at a Wichita, Kansas, hospital. Three of the five in Kansas died. The Austin American-Statesman (http://atxne.ws/1EXjk6R) reports veteran “crisis guru” Gene Grabowski has been advising the Brenham, Texas-based creamery. He says Blue Bell has worked around the clock since the listeria concerns arose to identify and correct any contamination sources.

Abbott Releases 2014 Tax Returns; Made $135K as AG

Gregg AbbottAUSTIN (AP) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott has released his 2014 tax returns, revealing that he made about $135,000 as attorney general and paid about 40 percent of his income in federal, state and local taxes. Abbott was attorney general for 12 years, becoming governor in January. He released his 2011-2013 tax returns while campaigning and made his 2014 filings public Friday. He gave nearly $5,000 to charity and paid about $52,000 in property taxes. First lady Cecilia Abbott is listed as “homemaker.” Previous returns listed her annual income from Harden Healthcare at $50,000. The filings do not include tax-exempt settlement payments stemming from a 1984 accident that left Abbott paralyzed from the waist down. As part of that, Abbott receives monthly deposits of about $14,400 and six-figure, lump-sum payments every three years.

4 Firms, 5 Individuals Charged in Texas Over Exports to Iran

Justice Department logoHOUSTON (AP) — Four companies and five individuals have been accused of illegally exporting to Iran high-tech electronics that could be used for military weapons. The 24-count federal indictment was unsealed Friday in Houston. The counts include conspiring to commit money laundering, money laundering and failure to file foreign bank and financial accountings. Prosecutors say the companies and defendants are charged with violating U.S. law by sending certain microelectronics, power supplies and other items to Iran. The exports violate U.S. sanctions as part of anti-terrorism efforts. The indictment names Houston-based Smart Power Systems Inc., plus companies operating in Taiwan, Turkey and Iran. Some defendants are from Houston and Los Angeles, with arrests carried out in Texas and California.

McVeigh Defense Archive Shows Bomber Viewed Blast as Failure

Timothy McVeighAUSTIN (AP) — Timothy McVeigh considered the Oklahoma City bombing a failure because he left the building standing and once suggested the government should pay his defense attorneys $800,000. Documents revealing those things are among the more than 1 million pages the convicted bomber’s former lawyer donated to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas. The school began assembling the collection in 1998 but it only became fully organized late last year. The executive director of the museum says lawyer Stephen Jones wasn’t comfortable putting the material at an Oklahoma institution, fearing it would be seen as a “shrine” to McVeigh. McVeigh was executed by injection in 2001 for the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people. At the time it was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Appeals Court Hears Arguments On Obama Immigration Action

5th Circuit Court of AppealsNEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal appeals judges peppered lawyers on both sides with questions in a fight over President Barack Obama’s move to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. A 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Friday held a special hearing in a closely watched case that is holding up Obama’s immigration action. A coalition of 26 states, led by Texas sued to block the plan. The hearing was on an appeal of a Texas judge’s injunction. The Justice Department argued that Texas has no legal standing in the matter. Texas’ solicitor general countered that granting legal status to immigrants will be costly for Texas. The judges did not rule and took the case under advisement. Throughout the hearing chants and drumming by pro-immigrant protesters outside the courthouse filtered into the packed courtroom.

Texas Pushes Closer to Licensed Open Carry of Handguns

Open CarryAUSTIN (AP) — Texas is closer to becoming the most populous state to allow licensed open carry of handguns after Republicans pushed through a key vote in the state House. House lawmakers gave preliminary approval to open carry on Friday, with a final vote expected next week. The state Senate has already approved a similar version and the chambers could send the measure to Gov. Greg Abbott to sign into law in the coming weeks. Abbott and the Legislature’s strong Republican majority have pushed open carry as an important gun rights and self-defense measure. Most Democrats have opposed it, noting concerns from police in the state’s largest cities and gun control advocates about public safety. Texas is only of only six states that don’t allow some form of open carry.

Texas House OKs Rules to Prohibit City Fracking Bans

pump jackAUSTIN (AP) — Cities and counties in Texas could no longer prohibit hydraulic fracturing under an oil and gas industry-backed measure overwhelmingly approved by the House. The bill passed Friday comes months after the city of Denton banned local fracking over environmental and safety concerns. That ordinance is now being challenged by lawsuits brought by the state and industry groups. Republicans say the new restrictions are needed to prevent a patchwork of drilling laws from spreading across Texas. The bill has been among the most contentious in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s first session. Abbott has stayed clear of the heated debate but has criticized local governments for what he calls overregulation. The Senate still needs to take action on the bill before it goes to Abbott’s desk.

Texas Looking Again for Execution Drug Supply

pentobarbitalAUSTIN (AP) — Texas’ prison chief says his agency is continuing the search for a new supply of execution drugs to replenish pentobarbital that will be exhausted again if two lethal injections scheduled over the next two weeks are carried out. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston says the agency’s objective is to carry out the law and to continue searching for appropriate drugs. And he said Friday before a state prison board meeting in Austin that he’s confident the drugs to carry out the law will be acquired. At least three more executions are scheduled beginning next month, meaning a new supply will need to be obtained. Texas and death penalty states nationwide have struggled to acquire execution drugs after manufacturers have refused to sell their products.

Case Ends for Doc Who Prescribed Drugs to Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith2LOS ANGELES (AP) — A psychiatrist who prescribed drugs to Anna Nicole Smith has been re-sentenced to probation and fined $100. Dr. Khristine Eroshevich previously completed the sentence given to her Friday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge as her long-running case ended. Eroshevich and Smith’s manager, Howard K. Stern, were convicted in 2010 of two counts of conspiring to obtain prescriptions under a false name. The prescriptions for opiates, muscle relaxants and other drugs were prescribed for anxiety months before Smith, who was raised in Houston and raised in Mexia, Texas, died in Florida of an accidental overdose in 2007. The defendants were not charged with causing her death. The convictions were thrown out by the trial judge but reinstated after prosecutors appealed. Judge Robert Perry threw out one conviction and reduced another to a misdemeanor at the resentencing.

House Tax Plan Moves to a Full Vote

Dennis BonnenAUSTIN (AP) — For the first time ever, Texas lawmakers could cut sales taxes under a House Republican bill that is now headed for a full vote. Republican Representative Dennis Bonnen says his proposal that sailed out of a committee Thursday would save the average family of four about $172 a year. But that plan differs from the Senate, which wants to cut property taxes for homeowners instead. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this week stayed mum over which method of tax cuts he prefers, saying he’ll leave it up to lawmakers. Negotiations over tax cuts are likely to cause the most tension in the final six weeks of the session.

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