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Texas House Panel Endorses Statewide Ban On Texting While Driving

A Texas House panel has endorsed a texting-while-driving ban.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: the racist fraternity video has North Texas connections; for Jubilee Park, payday loans are a pricey way to pay the bills; Jerry Jones testifies in the Super Bowl seating trial; and more.

A Texas House panel has endorsed a statewide ban on texting while driving. The Texas Tribune reports: “A bill that would create a statewide ban on texting while driving passed its first legislative hurdle Tuesday when lawmakers voted it out of the House Transportation Committee. ‘I am elated House Bill 80 has been reported favorably by the committee and is moving through the legislative process,’ state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, the bill’s author, said in a written statement. ‘I truly believe this legislation will ultimately save lives.’ The committee approved the bill unanimously, a Craddick spokeswoman said. It will now move to the House Calendars Committee to be considered for floor debate. Forty-four states now ban text messaging while driving. In Texas, 38 cities have local bans on texting while driving.” Read more here. [Texas Tribune]

  • The racist fraternity video has North Texas connections. A former University of Oklahoma fraternity member who was shown in a video chanting a racial slur issued an apology Tuesday, as did the parents of a second student. In a statement emailed by his father, Parker Rice said the incident that was caught on video was "likely was fueled by alcohol," but "that's not an excuse." "I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night," Rice said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press by his father. "It was wrong and reckless." Meanwhile, the parents of another student seen on the video, Levi Pettit, released a statement that said, "he made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever." Both students are from North Texas. Rice is a graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. Pettit is a graduate of Highland Park High School. Read more here. [Associated Press]

  • For the working poor, a payday loan is a way to pay the bills – but it’s pricey. KERA’s Courtney Collins reports that many of Dallas’ Jubilee Park residents rely on payday loans, including a woman who is working to buy back her car title, which she borrowed against last summer. It’s the latest story in the KERA’s series One Crisis Away: Inside a Neighborhood. We look at the high price of being poor in Jubilee Park, which is sandwiched between Interstate 30 and Fair Park. Visit the series here. There are videos, maps and other stories.

  • Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was in a Dallas courtroom Tuesday to testify in the Super Bowl XLV seating trial. The Dallas Morning News reports: “Jones spent about 2 1/2 hours answering questions, apologizing to the judge, cracking up observers and scolding a plaintiffs’ attorney. Jones tried to ask the attorney questions, asked the judge if some questions were fair and demanded to know what was wrong with one of the answers he gave. Occasionally, he would punctuate a forced answer with a forced smile. … Seven plaintiffs are suing the NFL over problems with the temporary seating at the 2011 Super Bowl in Arlington. About 1,200 seats couldn’t be completed in time for the game, which displaced some fans and left about 400 without seats. Other fans claimed they had obstructed views in the temporary seats.” [The Dallas Morning News]

  • Many state government buildings are worn down and falling apart. The Texas Tribune reports: “Dilapidated parks. Walls patched with toilet paper. Rodent urine leaking into the ceiling at a state school for deaf and disabled kids. Decades-old computer and technology systems. A backlog of pipeline safety inspections. Consumers getting “screwed” at the gas pump for lack of fraud investigators. The signs of wear and tear in state government seem to be cropping up everywhere. It didn’t happen overnight. The deterioration in state parks, hit by a series of budget cuts and outright raids on its supposedly dedicated funding by lawmakers, has been a running plot line in the papers for several years. Likewise, the deferred maintenance at state buildings, which could cost almost $1 billion assuming the work begins now, dates backs a generation in some cases.” Read more here. [Texas Tribune]
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.