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Texas Seeking To Challenge Voting Rights Act

Michael Galkovsky
(cc) flickr

Texas is asking a federal panel weighing its photo ID requirement for voters to allow it to challenge the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In a filing Wednesday to a three-judge panel in Washington, Texas asked to submit a petition charging that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act violates the 10th Amendment.

As a state with a history of voter discrimination, Texas is required under that section of the Voting Rights Act to get advance approval from Washington on voting changes.

On Monday, the Justice Department declared that Texas' photo ID rule could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of registered Hispanics statewide.

The Justice objection sent the case to the federal panel.

In response, Texas now wants to argue the larger Voting Rights Act itself.


Texas Gets Nearly $10.5M In Housing Grants

More than a dozen Texas communities will share nearly $10.5 million in federal grants to support programs for the homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the funds Tuesday afternoon.

The HUD money goes to projects in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Galveston, Georgetown, Houston, Killeen, Longview, Mount Pleasant, Richmond, San Antonio, Sherman, Waco and Wichita Falls.

HUD authorities say the money is meant to help provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent support for individuals and families.

The Texas funds are part of about $201 million in grants awarded nationwide.


Dallas Police Ask Public To Help Solve Hate Crime

Dallas Police are asking for help in locating suspects in a hate crime.

Police say two people were walking near the corner of Audelia and Forest Lane Tuesday afternoon when several people in a car began shouting slurs about sexual orientation.

Two of the occupants got out of the car with baseball bats and attacked the victims.  They suffered multiple injuries requiring medical treatment.

Police say they believe there were five, black males in their 20’s in the car. It’s described as dark-colored four-door, with tinted windows and 24-inch rims.

Dallas Police ask anyone with information to contact investigators. 

BJ Austin, KERA News

DFW Most Expensive As Texas Gas Prices Rise

Gasoline prices across Texas are up 11 cents over last week’s average.

AAA Texas says the current statewide average is $3.70. The most expensive gas is in Dallas-Fort Worth, at $3.78 a gallon.

AAA says its annual Spring Break survey found a 10% increase in the number of drivers that said high gasoline prices are affecting their household budgets. Seventy-nine percent said they’re trying to cut down on unnecessary driving, eating out less, and clipping coupons.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Parker County Break-Ins/Burglaries Rise

Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler is worried about a rash of break-ins and burglaries and wants to nab the criminals. He says deputies are working an increased number of cases across the county.

Recent items stolen include weapons, jewelry, prescription drugs, electronics and air conditioning. Sheriff Fowler says in Azle yesterday someone stole the air conditioner outside a home on Northwest Parkway, then broke into the house to get the copper tubing in the attic.

The Sheriff is urging Parker County residents to lock their cars, garages, doors and windows … as well as keep a watchful eye on their neighborhoods.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Senate Transportation Bill Could Help Texas Traffic Jams

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is applauding Wednesday’s Senate passage of a Transportation Bill. It’s a two-year, 109 Billion dollar authorization for highway, transit and safety programs.

Senator Hutchison says Texas will see its return from the Highway Trust Fund increased 3%, and that could mean Billions more for state projects.

An amendment narrowly passed that would make it more difficult to turn existing highways into toll roads. The bill also expands a federal loan program for new projects built by public-private partnerships – such as the Billion dollar improvement of 635/LBJ in Dallas – which does include “new” toll lanes.

Transportation funding runs out March 31st, and the House still has to act.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Rangers, Hicks reach agreement over parking lots

A battle over stadium parking lots between the Texas Rangers and their former owner has ended.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday that the Rangers have reached a multi-year agreement to operate the parking lots at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington owned by former owner Tom Hicks.

The agreement came a day after a judge approved a request from Hicks and the current ownership group, Rangers Baseball Express, that a lawsuit be dropped.

The Rangers sued Hicks for breach of contract over an agreement reached in May 2010. Hicks counter-sued, saying he wanted an outside vendor to operate the lots, which weren't included in the sale of the team.

An agreement was reached last year that allowed the Rangers to continue operating the lots through the end of 2011.


1 dead, 2 hurt in gunfire near Texas courthouse

Police say one person has been killed and three people wounded after a gunman opened fire in front of a Southeast Texas courthouse.

Beaumont police say the man suspected in Wednesday's shootings near the Jefferson County Courthouse has been injured and captured.

Officer Doug Kibodeaux did not immediately have further details on the wounded suspect.

KFDM-TV reports emergency personnel Wednesday afternoon surrounded the downtown courthouse, located near the Port of Beaumont. The courthouse was locked down.

Beaumont is about 80 miles east of Houston.


Drug suspect arrested after apartment lockdown

The FBI has arrested a man who caused a Dallas apartment complex to be locked down for several hours Tuesday after he fled when authorities tried to serve a drug warrant.

A bureau spokesman said 41-year-old Ronald William Brooks was apprehended in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite without injury Tuesday night.

Brooks fled on a motorcycle when authorities tried to serve a warrant for federal drug conspiracy charges. Police and FBI agents chased him to an apartment complex and had the building locked down as they went door to door searching for him.

A federal indictment returned on Feb. 23 charges Brooks with being involved in a drug conspiracy that's part of an ongoing FBI investigation.