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Texas GOP Pushing Hard For Voter ID & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas Republicans are making a hard push to require voters to show photo identification before casting their ballots.

The Senate acted quickly on Gov. Rick Perry's emergency declaration for the bill, scheduling public testimony on the bill for Tuesday with a possible vote on the bill late in the day or on Wednesday.

Republicans are making stronger voter ID laws a top priority as a way to prevent fraud. Democrats say it's a partisan effort designed to boost GOP margins on election day.

Democrats blocked a similar bill in 2009, but they now face a large Republican majority in the Senate and House that is expected to quickly pass the measure.

Texas traffic fines amnesty through April 17

Texas is offering an amnesty program for traffic violators who owe fines and want a discount for paying.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says if payment is not received by April 17, the amnesty reduction is voided, all surcharge balances revert to the original owed amounts and suspensions are put back on a driver's record.

About 650,000 Texans who owe traffic fines could be eligible for the 90 percent break on payment, as part of the DPS Driver Responsibility Program, which began Jan. 17.

Anyone with an unpaid surcharge that was assessed between Sept. 20, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2008, are eligible to take part.

Other restrictions apply. DPS say service fees will still apply to the reduced amount being paid.

Live fish in bags tossed at Fort Worth pep rally

A fish and chicks incident at a Fort Worth school has led to cancellation of future assemblies.

Live fish in bags and baby chicks were tossed during a pep rally last week at North Side High School.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the school was celebrating its mariachi group advancing to state competition and the beginning of soccer and baseball seasons.

School district spokesman Clint Bond says three fish and one chick died. Administrators are working to identify the students blamed for the incident.

Administrators have suspended off-campus lunch privileges for seniors for two days.

Superintendent Melody Johnson says animal cruelty won't be tolerated.

Dangerous sex offender flees Houston halfway house

A high risk sex offender who escaped from a Houston halfway house has been added to the Texas Department of Public Safety's 10 Most Wanted list.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange told The Associated Press that 39-year-old Timothy Rosales Jr. was "still on the loose" Tuesday. DPS also announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rosales, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Rosales fled Monday night from the Reid Facility, where he was under electronic monitoring.

DPS says Rosales, who's from the Denton area, was convicted of two aggravated sexual assaults in Potter County in 1987. Rosales is now wanted on felony civil commitment and parole violation charges.

Rosales is 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs about 165 pounds and has numerous tattoos.