Judge: Texas Should Plan On May 29 Primary | KERA News

Judge: Texas Should Plan On May 29 Primary

A federal judge has told Republican leaders in Texas to plan as though the state's primary will be May 29 because the long-running dispute over redistricting likely won't allow for it to be held any earlier.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jerry Smith on Wednesday did not officially set that as the new primary date. But the judge's guidance virtually extinguishes any chance of Texas holding an April primary.

A primary in May or later risks making Texas irrelevant in choosing the Republican presidential nominee.

Texas had been scheduled to take part in March's Super Tuesday, but the state's ongoing battle over voting maps derailed that.

Earlier Wednesday, the sides announced a deal on a temporary map for the disputed state Senate boundaries, leaving unresolved the state House and congressional maps.

AP

Boy pleads guilty over train-related Dallas death

Prosecutors in Dallas say a 14-year-old boy faces 30 years in prison over the death of a man allegedly pushed into a moving train.

The teen pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder over the November death of 19-year-old Octavius Lanier.

Investigators say four juveniles were charged with capital murder after Lanier was shoved off a Dallas Area Rapid Transit train platform.

 

Prosecutors say the 14-year-old boy apologized in court during the plea agreement hearing.

He'll begin serving his sentence at a Texas Youth Commission facility. The boy could be moved to a Texas prison unit when he turns 16, or paroled after three years in the TYC.

A judge last Friday ruled that another defendant, who's 15, will not be tried as an adult. Cases are pending against two other boys.

AP

Group: Texas lobbyists paid up to $345M last year

Texas lobbyists collected up to about $345 million to influence lawmakers while the state Legislature was in session last year.

But Texans for Public Justice says that's only a small increase from a maximum near $344 million spent on lobbying during the last legislative session in 2009.

In a report released Wednesday, the watchdog group said it's difficult to pinpoint exact values for lobbying contracts. Still, 1,836 lobbyists collected a minimum $169.1 million and maximum $345.4 million from 2,908 clients in 2011.

In 2009, 1,690 lobbyists got between $167.4 million and $343.6 million from 2,866 clients.

Dallas-based AT&T has long been the top spender on Texas lobbying and paid up to $10.6 million in 2011.

Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings Corp. was second, spending a maximum $2.6 million.

AP

Study finds Texas drought killed 5.6 million trees

Experts say the 2011 Texas drought has killed about 5.6 million trees in urban areas.

The Texas Forest Service offered the preliminary estimate Tuesday.

Foresters spent the last month doing the survey, including use of satellite images to count live and dead trees in randomly selected areas.

All cities and towns in Texas were part of the study, except the Trans Pecos region, where tree mortality was determined to be a result of February 2011 cold weather.

Researcher Pete Smith says trees continue to die from the drought and a final number may never be known.

The agency in December estimated Texas had a total tree population of about 4.9 billion.

Recent rains helped ease parts of Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, out of the drought.

AP