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Roundup: Voters Decide Statewide Local Issues

Credit: jmtimages (cc) flickr

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas voters passed seven out of ten proposed amendments to the state constitution, but rejected measures that would have provided tax incentives to conserve water; given El Paso County new bonding authority, and given counties the same bonding powers as cities and town.

Propositions that passed will give the governor new powers to grant pardons. Elected officials will have more time to resign before running for another office and there will be more money for student loans and financing education.

North Texans also decided other local measures:

Bond issues passed in the Mansfield school district, but failed in Cedar Hill ISD and the City of White Settlement.

Plano and McKinney voters said yes to expanding city council terms from three years to four.

The cities of Keller and Saginaw reauthorized local sales and use taxes.

Jackie Black and John Huffman are in a runoff in Keller to replace Coouncilman Mitch Holmes who resigned.

Coppell renewed its crime control and prevention district.

Alcohol sales issues passed in Grandview, Sunnyvale, Alvarado, Forney, Joshua and in Parker County Precinct One.

EAS Test Fails In North Texas

This afternoon's first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, the EAS, failed in parts of North Texas and elsewhere.

Many radio and television audiences heard the familiar emergency tone, but no message.

Michael Schneider with the Texas Association of Broadcasters says the message coming from Washington was sent to primary radio and TV stations across the country that should have been able to relay it to others, but there were glitches.

Schneider: Clearly there is a breakdown between FEMA who originates the test and the stations that are tasked with the duty to relay it to various states and primary entry point stations.

The EAS system is used locally to cut into regular broadcast programs to provide emergency Amber and weather alerts. By law it is also supposed to be available to the President to alert the nation to immediate danger.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the testing gaps will help identify the problems that need to be fixed.

Group: Texas jobs fund missing job creation goals

A watchdog group in Texas says a jobs program touted by Republican Gov. Rick Perry only created about a third of the jobs it promised by the end of last year.

But Perry's office fired back Wednesday at the conclusions reached by Texans for Public Justice about the Texas Enterprise Fund, which gives public money to private firms to help spur job creation.

The left-leaning group said companies that received grants had created 22,349 jobs by the end of last year, or 37 percent of the nearly 60,000 jobs they promised.

Perry's office says that figure is a future target - not a goal to reach by the end of 2010. His office says amended agreements with the companies called for 23,410 new jobs through 2010, and they delivered 33,400.

New suspect IDd in Texas wrongful conviction case

Authorities have identified a new suspect in the slaying of a Texas woman whose husband was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years for the crime.

The Williamson County Sheriff's Office says Alan Norwood was arrested Wednesday for the Aug. 13, 1986, slaying of Christine Morton.

Sgt. John Foster says the 57-year-old Norwood has been charged with capital murder and is being held in the Williamson County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

Christine Morton's husband, Michael Morton, had been convicted in her death. But he was released from prison last month after new DNA testing cleared him.

Foster says Norwood's DNA was on a bloody bandanna found near the Mortons' home.

Official: Lawmaker to plead guilty in travel flap

An official says a Texas state representative will plead guilty to a felony charge related to using taxpayer money to reimburse himself for travel expenses that had already been paid for through his campaign.

Gregg Cox with the Travis County district attorney's office said Wednesday that Dallas-area Rep. Joe Driver planned to enter his plea on the charge of abuse official capacity in a Nov. 22 court hearing.

Cox said he didn't know the details of the plea agreement. Driver's attorney didn't immediately return a phone call. The punishment range for the third-degree felony is two to 10 years in prison, but Cox said Driver could receive probation.

Driver, a Republican from Garland, has said he didn't know the practice known as double-dipping was wrong. He reimbursed his campaign $49,426.

Legislative leaders urge tax reform in 2013

Legislative leaders are warning that steps must be taken to ensure Texas will be able to adequately fund roads, water supplies and schools in the future.

Republican Sen. Tommy Williams on Tuesday implored a tax policy association to "have an honest look in the mirror" about the challenges and tough choices the Legislature faces.

The state is running out of money and options to build new roads and maintain existing ones, he said. The state's water management plan also is without a long-term funding source. The state's business tax and school finance system are facing legal challenges.

Any increase in taxes will face resistance from conservatives.

Republican Sen. Steve Ogden says the state should let voters decide about new taxes through a series of constitutional amendment propositions.

Front of Dallas ladder truck rolls into lake

Investigators want to know how the front of a $600,000 Dallas Fire Department ladder truck ended up in White Rock Lake.

Officials are looking at whether the brakes failed Sunday before the firefighting vehicle rolled into the water.

Authorities say fire crews were at the lake for a water rescue at a spillway. The boater managed to escape unharmed.

A spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman did not immediately return a message Wednesday from The Associated Press.

Ex-polygamist bishop given 10-year prison term

A former polygamist bishop convicted of marrying sect leader Warren Jeffs to a 12-year-old girl has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Fredrick Jessop received the maximum sentence Tuesday from a West Texas jury. The 75-year-old was found guilty Monday of performing an illegal wedding ceremony.

The San Angelo Standard Times reported that jurors deliberated only an hour after closing arguments and testimony in the sentencing phase ended.

Jessop officiated the 2006 ceremony between Jeffs and his underage bride at the Yearning for Zion Ranch, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Much of the evidence showed to jurors was the same that prosecutors used to convict Jeffs in August on child sex charges. Jeffs is serving a life sentence.