Texans give $100,000 to tornado relief efforts
HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans have donated $100,000 to help in relief efforts in the wake of this week's devastating and deadly tornado in Oklahoma.
Team owner Bob McNair and his wife Janice made the donation on behalf of their foundation and the team to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief in Oklahoma City.
The charity provides hot meals, water purification, mobile showers and laundry, debris removal, child care and medical assistance.
McNair says: "It's just an unbelievable situation and we just wanted to say: 'We're sorry they've had this disaster and hopefully this will help a little bit.'"
GUNS AND LAWMAKERS
Gun measure triggers Republican fight in House
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A move to give lawmakers the right to carry handguns anywhere they wish sparked an angry debate in the Texas House of Representatives between Republicans.
The shouting match erupted Thursday over whether lawmakers should give themselves special privileges not available to all Texans.
The original draft law only gave special privileges to criminal prosecuting attorneys and judges, adding them to a list of officials allowed to carry concealed handguns anywhere in the state. Regular concealed handgun license holders cannot take their guns into hospitals, churches, bars or private property that bans them. The Texas Senate added lawmakers to those exempted from the restrictions.
Conservative Republicans became enraged, saying lawmakers should not give themselves special privileges.
The House rejected the Senate's changes to the bill and called for a conference committee.
Open Meetings Act to allow video teleconferences
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Legislature has amended the Open Meetings Act to allow for video teleconferences.
The bill sent to the governor on Thursday would allow public officials to meet using a teleconference even if a quorum is not physically present. Supporters say the bill will bring the state's strict rules for official meetings into the modern age by allowing public officials to use Internet technology.
The proposed change would require that officials broadcast the teleconference live at the meeting so the public physically present can watch and listen.
But opponents worry the law will allow officials to avoid the appearing in-person before the public. They also worry that the public will not have a chance to interact with public officials.
The bill now goes to Governor Rick Perry for his signature.
ENTERPRISE FUND AUDIT
Lawmakers require audit of Perry development fund
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - State lawmakers have given final approval to a bill requiring an audit of Governor Rick Perry's deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund.
Lawmakers have been demanding closer scrutiny of the decade-old program that has given more than $485 million to private companies looking to expand or relocate in the state. Critics have questioned the fund, and Perry's similar Emerging Technology Fund, over accountability and impact.
The bill by Democratic Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth requires the state auditor to examine the grant process and whether recipients have complied their contracts. The audit must be completed no later than January 2015.
Thursday's vote by the Senate sends the bill to Perry for his consideration to veto the bill or let it become law.
SEXUAL ASSAULT BILLS
Legislature approves sexual assault protections
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Governor Rick Perry will consider new measures to protect victims of sexual assault.
In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Senate approved a bill that would give victims the right to track physical evidence collected in a rape kit. It has already passed the House.
Another bill approved by both chambers requires hospitals to assemble rape kits or provide transfer to a different hospital.
Lawmakers heard testimony from a woman whose attacker escaped charges after she was unable to find a hospital willing to gather the evidence.
Recent versions of the state's proposed budget also include $11 million to clear a backlog of more than 22,000 untested evidence kits.
Democratic Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has said her proposals would ensure victims are "made partners in the pursuit of justice."
Police: Man fatally shot was Mexican attorney
SOUTHLAKE, Texas (AP) - Police say a man fatally shot in an SUV in the town square of an upscale North Texas city was an attorney from Mexico.
Southlake police Chief Stephen Mylett said Thursday that Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa might have been affiliated with a McAllen law firm.
Mylett said Wednesday evening's shooting of the 43-year-old as he sat in the parked vehicle with his wife in the shopping district was "well-planned" and the victim was targeted. Police say the gunman pulled up to the SUV in another vehicle, got out and fired several shots before speeding away with another person.
Mylett says investigators are working with federal authorities. A Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman in Dallas says her agency is helping with the investigation.
Southlake is 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth.
Ex-police officer gets prison for abusing suspect
LAREDO, Texas (AP) - A former Laredo police officer has been sentenced to a year in prison after admitting to abusing a suspect in his patrol car last year.
A federal judge in Laredo sentenced Frank Carter on Thursday. Carter had pleaded guilty on March 7th to violating the civil rights of the male suspect and admitted to having used "unjustified and unlawful force against a handcuffed arrestee."
The incident was recorded on a rear-facing dashboard camera.
Carter could have received a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Dallas man gets death for drowning 2 sons in creek
DALLAS (AP) - A Dallas man who drowned 2 of his sons in a creek has been sentenced to death.
Naim (nah-EEM') Rasool Muhammad was convicted last week of capital murder in the killings of 5-year-old Naim and 3-year-old Elijah in August 2011. Jurors decided on the death penalty for the 34-year-old father on Thursday.
Muhammad confessed that he took the children to a Dallas-area creek, told them to pretend they were swimming, and then held their faces underwater. He told a detective he drowned the boys because he was mad at their mother for breaking up with him.
It took jurors less than 10 minutes to find him guilty.
They were shown a video of his confession to the detective, in which he admitted to telling his children, "Play like y'all swimming."
Houston man charged in threats against synagogues
HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston man has been charged with calling in fake bomb threats to two synagogues.
Federal prosecutors say a complaint unsealed Thursday names 32-year-old Dante Phearse. He faces an initial court appearance Friday in Houston.
Prosecutors say bomb threats were called in to two Houston synagogues on April 30th. The caller left voice mails with Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Or Ami (or uh-MEE') saying both would be bombed on May 2nd.
Investigators didn't immediately say what led them to Phearse. He's charged with using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to destroy a building by means of an explosive device.
If convicted Phearse faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
New DPS plane named for slain Texas Ranger Doherty
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The newest airplane being used by the Department of Public Safety carries the name of a Texas Ranger slain in the line of duty 35 years ago.
DPS on Thursday commissioned the high-tech Pilatus PC-12 NG at a ceremony in Austin. The aircraft is named for Texas Ranger Bobby Doherty.
DPS says Doherty was gunned down in February 1978 while making a drug arrest in Argyle. He was stationed at Fort Worth.
The Pilatus can carry two pilots and up to seven passengers. It has an infrared color video camera, a computer mapping system and state-of-the-art radios.
The Bobby Doherty will be stationed in San Antonio to assist law enforcement agencies along the Texas border with Mexico.
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