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Texas Asks Court To Stop Redistricting Plan

Credit: jmtimages (cc) flickr

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Supreme Court has been asked to stop a federal court from implementing a state redistricting map in Texas that could increase minority representation in the state Legislature.

The state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, filed the request with the high court on Monday. The court-drawn map was drafted after minority groups challenged the original plan passed by the Republican-dominated state Legislature.

The map drawn by the San Antonio-based federal court could lead to greater minority representation and give Democrats a chance to add as many as a dozen seats in the Legislature. Abbott and other Republican leaders have denied that any of the legislature's redistricting maps would diminish minority voting power.

The court-ordered map will remain in place until the legal fights are resolved.

Texas Supreme Court strikes down tax challenge

The Texas Supreme Court has struck down a constitutional challenge to the state's business tax in a case that threatened a major impact on the state budget.

The all-Republican court ruled Monday that the tax created in 2006 does not violate the state ban on personal income taxes without voter approval.

Boerne-based insurance adjuster Allcat Claims Service LP challenged the tax a personal income tax when applied to certain business partnerships.

The business tax, also known as the margins tax, is a key source of money for public education even though it has raised far less revenue that projected. It raises more than $4 billion per year.

Texas has had a constitutional ban on a personal income tax without voter approval since 1993.

Texas man exonerated by DNA to get more money

Texas will pay a Dallas County man released from prison in 2006 after DNA evidence exonerated him of a rape that he did not commit an additional $753,000 on top of $1 million already paid for the 20 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned.

Larry Fuller was pardoned in 2007 and in 2009 the Legislature raised compensation for the exonerated to $80,000 per year spent in prison. Initially Comptroller Susan Combs denied Fuller's request for more money, but after Fuller sued, the state settled, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Texas Supreme Court dismissed the case Nov. 18.

R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for the agency, said the state paid because Fuller filed his request in the three-year window. The filing deadline has passed for all other exonerees, he said.

Grill in Dallas-area house leads to poisoning

Emergency officials say seven people have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after an outdoor grill was used inside a Dallas-area house on a chilly evening.

Grand Prairie Fire Department Battalion Chief Cal Timpf says a family used the grill Sunday night in the garage, to prepare food, then moved the grill inside to help heat the residence.

Timpf says four adults and an infant who were transported to a hospital are expected to recover.

Two paramedics who went into the home, before emergency personnel determined what had made the five residents sick, suffered carbon monoxide exposure and were treated at the scene.

The National Weather Service says temperatures in the Dallas area dipped below freezing early Monday, after being in the 40s on Sunday night.

Fort Worth teen dies after car strikes home

A Fort Worth teen has died after a car he was riding in skidded off the road and slammed into a house.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office says that 17-year-old Christian Hernandez was pronounced dead at 1:34 a.m. Saturday at John Peter Smith Hospital.

Police say Hernandez was riding in the back left passenger seat of a Chevrolet Cobalt when it clipped a minivan, hit a retaining wall, rolled onto its right side, hit a parked car and finally stuck the corner of a garage in north Fort Worth.

The car's three other occupants were not seriously injured. The house's roof collapsed and a woman inside suffered minor injuries.

Police told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that it had started to rain shortly before the crash.

Perry breaks from campaign for cancer announcement

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken a break from the presidential campaign trail to announce a new cancer-fighting research center in Houston.

But Perry was in campaign mode Monday, praising the Texas economy for fostering the development of a facility that will work to identify new cancers, develop drugs to fight them and get those drugs to people who need them more quickly.

Perry, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run against Democratic President Barack Obama, called the state economy "the envy of the nation for the past decade."

The Institute for Applied Cancer Science will be part of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. MD Anderson is ranked among the top cancer centers in the world.

Perry called the announcement "substantial."