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Texas Redistricting Compromise Still Elusive

Neil R (cc) flickr

The fate of the Texas primaries remains in limbo after neither the state nor minority rights groups appeared to budge during a weekend of court-ordered negotiations.

If anything, briefs filed Monday suggested that both sides are hardening their positions. The Texas NAACP is now calling for May or June elections instead of rushing to get temporary voting maps in place for an April primary.

The primaries are scheduled for April 3. But many believe a three-judge panel in San Antonio will declare that date unrealistic Tuesday during a key hearing in the long-running redistricting battle.

At stake is the political balance of power in both Texas and Congress.

A compromise offered by the Texas attorney general last week was widely rejected by Democrats and a coalition of minority rights groups.


Chair of Texas Railroad Commission resigns

The chairwoman of the Texas Railroad Commission has resigned to pursue a seat in the Texas Senate.

Elizabeth Ames Jones sent her letter of resignation to the governor late Monday afternoon. Jones is running to replace state Sen. Jeff Wentworth to represent Central Texas in Senate District 25.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Jones to the railroad commission in 2005 and she was elected to the post in 2006. Previously Jones said she would run for the U.S. Senate, but dropped out of that race.

As railroad commissioner, Jones was required to live in Austin, and her opponents questioned whether she could run for a state senate seat where she did not presently live. Jones has maintained a home inside district 25, but her primary residence was in Austin.


Group files suit over Texas voter registration law

A national non-partisan group has filed a lawsuit to block new Texas laws that make it harder to register people to vote.

Voting for America complained to the federal court in Galveston that the new laws unconstitutionally restrict voter registration drives from gathering public voter information. The new laws also limit who can hand out voter registration cards and who can collect the completed registration forms.

The laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature also restrict voter registration drives from firing employees for not registering enough voters.

GOP lawmakers say the new rules are necessary to prevent voter registration fraud.

Opponents argue that the laws are intended to discourage groups from registering new voters, or from helping the poor and the elderly to register.


Trial set in misconduct suit against Texas lawyer

Opening statements have been scheduled in a case the State Bar of Texas has brought against an attorney who has helped wrongly convicted ex-inmates get state compensation.

Lubbock attorney Kevin Glasheen faced trial Monday afternoon.

The bar says Glasheen committed professional misconduct by charging fees that were illegal and unconscionable. Glasheen has said he acted appropriately in charging his clients a 25 percent contingency fee.

Glasheen has been credited by lawmakers and advocates as the driving force behind a 2009 law that made Texas the most generous state in the nation in compensating the wrongly convicted.

If a court determines Glasheen committed misconduct, he could face punishments ranging from a public reprimand to disbarment.


Some Texas schools start late due to weather

Some schools in West Texas have delayed opening due to winter weather that left behind nearly 3 inches of snow.

Texas Tech University in Lubbock pushed back the start of classes until 10 a.m. Monday amid freezing temperatures and misty conditions.

Schools in San Angelo were starting two hours late due to the threat of icy roads.

The National Weather Service in Lubbock says the area received 2.8 inches of snow Sunday. Forecaster Andrew Pritchett says Amarillo received 1.7 inches of snow.

Pritchett says the wintry conditions were moving out of West Texas and the Panhandle on Monday.

Forecasters say the Dallas-Fort Worth area faced a chance of snow and light sleet Monday. Rain fell before dawn.


Texas man charged in torture case headed for trial

A Texas man accused of torturing his former neighbor on a deer-skinning device is going on trial this week.

Jury selection is to start Monday in Jeffrey Allan Maxwell's case. He's charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of aggravated kidnapping. The 59-year-old faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Authorities say Maxwell abducted his ex-neighbor at gunpoint last March from her home near Weatherford, about 30 miles west of Fort Worth. He was arrested 12 days later at his Corsicana home about 100 miles away, where the woman was rescued. Authorities say the woman apparently had spurned his advances several years ago when he lived near her .

Maxwell remains jailed in Parker County in lieu of $500,000 bail.


Worker dies after Texas City industrial accident

Authorities say an industrial accident at a Southeast Texas port has killed a worker.

A coroner says an autopsy has been scheduled Monday for 26-year-old Virgel James Stoker.

The Galveston County Daily News reports the accident happened Saturday night at the Port of Texas City, at a Dallas Group of America Inc. site.

Homeland Security coordinator Bruce Clawson says investigators are trying to determine the cause of the accident. Clawson says Stoker was working on equipment used to package products. Stoker was taken to a Texas City hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A message left Monday with a spokesman for New Jersey-based Dallas Group of America was not immediately returned to The Associated Press.