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Mayor races set in Dallas, Fort Worth & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Voters in a few of the state's biggest cities are preparing to elect new mayors this weekend.

Dallas and Fort Worth have contentious races for the open seats. But in San Antonio, one of the state's rising Democrats is expected to easily win his second mayoral term Saturday.

In Amarillo a transgender candidate and a fundamentalist street preacher are among 11 people running for mayor in the conservative Panhandle city.

Runoff races are expected after some of Saturday's elections. That's because the tight races in Dallas and Fort Worth mean it's unlikely that a single candidate will garner more than 50 percent of the vote.

The non-partisan elections are among several being held across Texas for mayor, some city commission and school board seats.

Bill would refine duties for Texas forensic panel

The duties of a state panel caught up in the review of a contested arson finding in a death penalty case would be redefined under legislation approved by the Texas Senate.

The bill approved Friday sets out specific steps for the Texas Forensic Science Commission when investigating and reporting cases. It also gives the commission the authority to initiate investigations rather than wait for a complaint to be filed.

Democrat Sen. Juan Hinojosa's bill also would reduce the number of commissioners from nine to seven.

The commission has been looking into questions over whether Texas executed a man based on faulty arson evidence.

Chairman John Bradley has taken steps to slow the panel's work on the case. His re-nomination has been blocked in the Senate by angry Democrats.

Justice to monitor elections in 5 Texas counties

The Justice Department says five Texas counties will be part of routine federal monitoring of local elections.

The agency says federal observers will be on hand for Saturday's elections in Galveston, Jefferson and Liberty counties in southeast Texas. Monitors also will be sent to Medina County in Central Texas and San Patricio County in South Texas.

The action announced Friday is designed to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in elections on the basis of race. The agency says the monitored jurisdictions are required to provide language assistance in Spanish.

House approves 42 as official game of Texas

The House has approved a resolution to make the domino game 42 the official table game of Texas.

The measure was unanimously approved Friday morning during a flurry of consent bills. Despite the huge number of bills pending, state Rep. Erwin Cain of Sulphur Springs read a poem explaining the game and it's virtue as an alternative to poker. The poem was placed in the House journal.

The game is also known as Texas 42 and is played for four players forming two teams. For decades it's been called "the national game of Texas." The resolution would make the moniker official.

The resolution now goes to the Senate for consideration.