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Mon July 9, 2012
Opening Arguments Set Stage For Texas Voter ID Law
The state of Texas and the Justice Department are beginning their arguments in a trial over Texas' new voter ID law, setting the stage for a legal battle over the federal Voting Rights Act.
Lawyers for Texas are arguing a 2011 law passed by its GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification does not violate the Act, passed in 1965 to protect minorities' right to vote. The Justice Department - along with other intervening groups supporting the Justice Department's position - says the law disproportionately discriminates against minority voters.
Arguments in the case began Monday. The trial is taking place in a federal court in Washington, after Texas sued the Justice Department, which blocked the voter ID law in March.
Testimony is expected to continue through Friday.
Perry: Medicaid a failure akin to Titanic
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling Medicaid a failure as he defends his decision to oppose any expansion of the program as part of the national health-care overhaul.
Perry told Fox News Monday that adding uninsured Texans to Medicaid - as proposed by the overhaul recently upheld by the Supreme Court - "is not unlike adding a thousand people to the Titanic." He says Texas won't participate in the expansion or create a health care exchange required by the law.
He says every Texan is able "to have access to health care" and the state should get to decide how to pay for it.
The state has more than 6.2 million uninsured people.
Perry announced he would oppose an insurance exchange and a Medicaid expansion in a letter Monday.
Texas lawmakers consider changes to prison care
The future of the health care system for Texas prison inmates is under consideration by state senators.
Members of the Finance Committee have invited experts to testify Monday about the best way to manage prisoner health care.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has asked senators to evaluate the current system and see if there are any new ways to save money. Senators also want to see if the state can tap into additional federal Medicaid funds to help cover the costs of caring for prisoners.
Some lawmakers have proposed allowing private companies to provide prisoner health care.
Texas lawmakers are holding hearings on a variety of topics to be ready in January, when the Legislature will meet again and begin passing laws.
Texas House Speaker calls for truth in budgeting
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has called for an end to an accounting practice that masks how taxes and fees are really spent.
Straus asked a House Appropriations Sub-committee to consider how to bring greater transparency to accounts dedicated to a special purpose, and how those balances are used to balance the budget. By law, the State Comptroller must certify that the budget is balanced every two years.
Straus said that lawmakers have stockpiled $4.9 billion in dedicated accounts to balance the budget. He gave an example of fees charged to drunk drivers that are supposed to go to hospital trauma centers. Instead of spending that money, lawmakers keep it in an account where it can be used to balance the budget.
Straus called for an end to the practice.
Mexico says US agents killed Mexican on border
The Mexican government says one of its citizens was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol agents on the border with Texas.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry on Monday did not identify the victim from Saturday's cross-border shooting, or give details of the incident. It said it told the U.S. that the use of lethal force was unacceptable.
The Border Patrol has said that agents had opened fire along the Rio Grande border after being pelted by rocks and having a gunman point a weapon in their direction from the Mexican side of the river.
The agency said it did not know if anyone else was hurt but said the Mexican government had been notified and was responding to the area. The FBI also was investigating.