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Texas Senate Debating Campus Guns Bill & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The sponsor of a bill to allow guns on college campuses abruptly withdrew the bill.

More than an hour into the debate on allowing concealed handguns into college buildings and classrooms, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth asked that debate resume on Monday. He apparently did not have enough votes to move it forward. Several Republicans asked for amendments to the bill.

The bill lets Texas concealed handgun license holders, who must be 21 years old and pass a training course, bring their weapons on campus.

The measure has met stiff resistance from higher education officials. Supporters call it a key gun rights issue and critical self-defense measure.

Texas would become the second state, following Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns.

Texas House passes human trafficking bill

People convicted of human trafficking would face tougher penalties under legislation that has passed the Texas House.

The bill makes it a felony to force children into prostitution, extends the statute of limitations for trafficking crimes and requires anyone convicted of sex trafficking to register as a sex offender.

The legislation also makes life sentences automatic for repeat offenders and creates separate definitions for sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Children who have been forced into prostitution will be allowed certain provisions similar to sexual assault cases under the Texas law. The bill, which has widespread support, faces a final procedural hurdle before being sent to Gov. Rick Perry, who has indicated he will sign it.

Bill would alter juvenile offender system in Texas

The state agency in charge of juvenile criminal offenders could be significantly restructured under legislation making its way through the Texas Senate.

A Senate committee earlier this week approved a bill that would combine the Texas Youth Commission and the Juvenile Probation Commission into one department.

The new Texas Juvenile Justice Department would prioritize probation and community treatment, becoming what supporters hope can be a model agency for the rest of the country.

The bill's author, Houston Sen. John Whitmire, said he hopes the agency will be a seamless system allowing youth to stay in their communities to work with professionals.

Probation officers from around the state have spoken in support of the merger but want to ensure the change provides true reform beyond administrative restructuring.

About 4,000 Rangers tickets stolen from vendor

About 4,000 Texas Rangers tickets stolen from a vendor will have the bar codes changed to void them.

KTVT-TV reports Metro Tickets in Dallas had a break-in through the wall of an adjacent business. Police say the theft of about $140,000 worth of tickets was discovered last week as the season was starting.

Metro Tickets owner David Christopherson says the tickets are for games in July, August and September. Christopherson warns that the tickets probably will be offered online or scalped and buyers should use legitimate brokers.

Rangers spokesman John Blake says team officials can check tickets to make sure they are legitimate.

The Rangers, unbeaten in their first six games, will visit the Orioles on Friday night.

Senate approves program for natural gas vehicles

The Texas Senate approved a program that would encourage companies to switch heavy vehicles from diesel fuel to natural gas.

The proposed legislation by state Sen. Tommy Williams would also create the Texas Clean Transportation Triangle. The state would provide grants to companies that built natural gas refueling centers along interstate highways connecting Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Companies that own heavy trucks will also receive grants to either buy natural gas-powered replacements, or to refit existing trucks to accept natural gas fuel.

The program would be funded with $41.7 million from the Texas Emissions Reduction Program.

Tyler: woman dressed as man sought to collect debt

An East Texas woman is accused of dressing as a man, arming herself with a knife and a stun gun and barging into the wrong house to try to collect a debt.

Tyler police say a child was slightly hurt in Thursday's incident.

The homeowner told police that she and her three daughters, ages 8 and 6-year-old twins, were bound and gagged, but escaped through a window. One girl suffered a scratch to her back.

Police entered the home and arrested a woman with a cap and false moustache.

Officer Don Martin says Maricela Aguilera Rodriguez of Tyler tried to collect $15,000 over a car, but targeted the wrong residence.

Rodriguez faced a charge of residential burglary with intent to commit a felony. She did not yet have an attorney.