BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Texas news at 7 p.m. CDT.

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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— XGR--Rainy Day Battles.

— XGR--Schools-Local Accountability.

— XGR--Charter Schools.

— XGR--Guns on Campus.

— XGR--Standardized Testing.

— XGR--Capitol Almanac.

— Texas Courthouse Shooting.

— Mentally Disabled Workers.

— Sex Offender Registries, HFR.

— NASA-Russia.

— Student Insurance-Indictment.

— Cincinnati Zoo-Baby Gorilla.

— T-Mobile USA-MetroPCS.

— Moody's-Penney

— JC Penney-Macy's.

— Earns-Tenet Healthcare.

XGR--RAINY DAY BATTLES

AUSTIN, Texas — Rep. Allan Ritter has spent years trying to find the money to build the water pipelines, reservoirs and conservation systems Texas' rapidly growing population needs, and this was supposed to be the year it finally happened. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus and the state's business community all threw their support behind Ritter's plan to take $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and leverage it to raise $27 billion over the next 50 years. But their support wasn't enough. By Chris Tomlinson.

XGR--SCHOOLS-LOCAL ACCOUNTABILITY

AUSTIN, Texas — A House panel is discussing a sweeping proposal to allow local school boards to ignore nearly all state educational regulations. House Bill 300 by Dripping Springs Republican Rep. Jason Isaac is backed by national school choice advocates. By Will Weissert.

In other legislative news:

— XGR--CHARTER SCHOOLS — A Texas House education panel has approved and sent to the full chamber a key proposal expanding the number of charter schools allowed to operate in Texas.

— XGR--GUNS ON CAMPUS — Texas college students who are licensed to carry concealed handguns would be allowed to keep their guns locked in their cars in campus parking lots under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

— XGR--STANDARDIZED TESTING — Texas college students who are licensed to carry concealed handguns would be allowed to keep their guns locked in their cars in campus parking lots under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

— XGR--CAPITOL ALMANAC — Highlights from around the Texas Capitol.

ABBOTT-RUNNING RIGHT

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hasn't officially announced if he'll run for governor but is making clear that if he does, he'll be running to the right. The Republican is looking to shore up a conservative, grass-roots base that could be pivotal if he ends up challenging Rick Perry in next year's Republican primary. By Will Weissert.

AP photos.

TEXAS-TESTING SCANDAL

EL PASO, Texas — State-appointed managers will take over the El Paso Independent School District after the U.S. Department of Justice said it won't oppose ousting the locally elected school board in the wake of a testing scandal at several of high schools. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams named the new board of managers in December, saying the replacements were needed to regain the public trust. Williams said he plans to attend the official swearing-in ceremony and the board's first meeting next Tuesday. By Juan Carlos Llorca.

TEXAS COURTHOUSE SHOOTING

GALVESTON, Texas — A Houston man who admitted shooting his daughter outside a Texas courthouse was convicted Tuesday of capital murder for the death of a 79-year-old bystander. Bartholomew Granger, 42, testified in his own defense that he didn't shoot Minnie Ray Sebolt last March when he opened fire on his daughter outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Beaumont. Granger said he was angry with his daughter for testifying against him in a sex assault case. By Michael Graczyk.

AP photo.

MENTALLY DISABLED WORKERS

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A government attorney asked jurors Tuesday to award damages to 32 mentally disabled workers, saying they were subjected to around-the-clock discrimination by a Texas company that profited from their work at an Iowa turkey plant. By Ryan J. Foley.

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES, HFR

NEW YORK — Government authorities should end the practice of placing juveniles' names on publicly accessible sex-offender registries, Human Rights Watch says in a report warning of lasting and unwarranted harm to some youths. Some law enforcement officials and victims' rights advocates agree the current registry system is flawed and support steps to allow more discretion in juvenile offenders' cases. Offenses triggering inclusion on the registries can range widely — from rape to consensual sex between children to "sexting" of photos that depict nudity or sexual activity. By National Writer David Crary.

Eds: HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL 11:01 P.M. CDT. THIS STORY MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST OR POSTED ONLINE BEFORE 11:01 P.M. CDT.

NASA-RUSSIA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is paying $424 million more to Russia to get U.S. astronauts into space, and the agency's leader is blaming Congress for the extra expense. By Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn.

AP photo.

BATH SALTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A manager from Texas who prosecutors say handled daily operations at two West Virginia shops that sold illegal bath salts wants his trial delayed, and new court documents say he was skimming from his employer in an enterprise that often generated more than $20,000 a day. John Skruck's trial on more than two dozen drug-related charges was to begin May 12, but his lawyers said in a motion for postponement that he's not ready to proceed. Defense attorney Thorn Thorn said he's received more than 10,000 pages of discovery —1,000 since mid-March — and needs three more months to prepare. By Vicki Smith.

EXCHANGE-SCHOOL CAFETERIAS-COFFEE

THE COLONY, Texas — It's lunchtime at The Colony High School, and a long line is forming in front of a small kiosk where baristas are serving up lattes, mochas and cafe au laits and other coffee drinks. "I've tried every single one of them," freshman Maddie Lustig said of the frothy, creamy javas she buys from the school's first coffee bistro. "The mint Javalanche is my favorite." By Wendy Hundley, The Dallas Morning News.

Also:

— PLANT EXPLOSION-TEXAS — People near the site of a deadly fertilizer plant explosion in Central Texas have been advised that smoke could be generated as part of the investigation.

— PLANT EXPLOSION-MAYOR — The mayor of a Texas town devastated by a deadly fertilizer plant explosion says he expects the community to rebuild and he'll do the same.

— STUDENT INSURANCE-INDICTMENT — The former owner of a Texas company that provided health insurance to Virginia Tech students has pleaded not guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud charges.

— EX-ROOMMATE-BURNED — An East Texas woman has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for splashing her ex-roommate with gasoline and starting him on fire in a dispute about rent.

— MURDER SENTENCE-RAPE VICTIM — A former convict has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his girlfriend in a crime that Central Texas prosecutors say also included the rape of the woman's granddaughter.

— SAN ANTONIO-STRIP CLUBS — A judge has affirmed San Antonio's updated ordinance that requires strippers at clubs not defined as sexually oriented businesses to wear bikini tops — not skimpier pasties.

— BOY IN BOX — A couple accused of forcing their 9-year-old child to live at times in a locked wooden box have been extradited back to South Texas after being apprehended in Nevada.

— STASH HOUSES — U.S. Border Patrol agents have shuttered five stash houses and arrested some 230 immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas.

— MENTALLY DISABLED WORKERS — A government attorney is asking jurors to award damages to 32 mentally disabled workers who he says were subjected to around-the-clock discrimination by a Texas company that profited from their work at an Iowa turkey plant.

— CINCINNATI ZOO-BABY GORILLA — An abandoned baby gorilla from Texas has made its debut at the Cincinnati Zoo with some of the people who have served as its primary caregivers.

BUSINESS:

T-MOBILE USA-METROPCS

NEW YORK — T-Mobile USA, the country's fourth-largest cellphone carrier, is set to complete its acquisition of Dallas-based MetroPCS after the stock market closes on Tuesday. T-Mobile is adding 9 million MetroPCS customers to its own 34 million. The combined company will stall lag No. 3 Sprint Nextel Corp. in size. By Technology Writer Peter Svensson.

MOODY'S-PENNEY

NEW YORK — Moody's Investors Service is lowering its long-term ratings for J.C. Penney, saying a new term loan won't fix long-term performance concerns or reduce the amount of cash the retail store operator is expected to go through over the next 12 months. Earlier this month the department store operator said it would draw $850 million from its $1.85 billion revolving credit line to pay for replenishing inventory. Following that, the Plano, Texas, company said that Goldman Sachs would provide a $1.75 billion senior secured term loan.

With:

— JC PENNEY-MACY'S — A New York appeals court is allowing J.C. Penney Co. to continue to sell a new line of home goods designed by Martha Stewart.

EARNS-TENET HEALTHCARE

DALLAS — Tenet Healthcare Corp. said Tuesday that it lost $88 million in the first quarter, hurt by hefty charges and a drop in inpatient admissions. The earnings beat Wall Street predictions, while revenue fell slightly short. Its shares rose more than 3 percent.

EARNS-HUNTSMAN

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Huntsman Corp. reported a $24 million first-quarter loss Tuesday, hurt by lower demand for some of its products and hefty pension-related costs. The chemical maker's loss amounted to 10 cents per share and compares with a profit of $163 million, or 68 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2012. Excluding pension and other losses, the company said it posted an adjusted profit of 19 cents per share.

SPORTS REFER:

BBA--ASTROS-YANKEES

NEW YORK — Hiroki Kuroda (3-1, 2.79 ERA) starts for the Yankees as New York tries to rebound from the series-opening loss to Houston. The Astros go with Phil Humber (0-5, 7.99).

AP Photos.

Eds: First pitch at 6:05 p.m. ET.

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