Texas Board Sued For Rejecting Confederate Plate | KERA News

Texas Board Sued For Rejecting Confederate Plate

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is suing the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board in federal court for denying its proposed specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag.

The DMV board rejected the plate 8-0 last month, after Gov. Rick Perry said on the presidential campaign trail that he opposed it.

The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court in Austin against the eight DMV board members who voted.

It's arguing its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. The DMV says it has yet to see the complaint.

Nine other states have approved Sons of Confederate Veterans' specialty plates, but Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina only did so after the group sued. A similar suit is pending in Florida.

Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Officer

A Tarrant County grand jury today declined to indict a Fort Worth police officer in connection with the fatal shooting of a woman who came at him with scissors. The grand jurors no-billed Officer B.A. Lane in connection with the death of Stacey Burris after hearing two days of testimony.

The grand jury's decision means no charges will be filed against the officer. Because grand jury deliberations are secret, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office cannot comment about the proceedings.

Another Parkland Exec Resigns

Another top executive at Parkland Hospital is leaving. Chief of Nursing Miriam Sibley resigned today.

Interim Parkland CEO Thomas Royer says he accepted it with mixed emotions.

Royer says Sibley wants to spend more time with her family. She has been at Parkland Hospital in Dallas for 20 years, and will stay on until a replacement is named.

Parkland failed a critical federal inspection in July, and a follow-up in September. The hospital is now under mandatory "independent" oversight.

In the past few months, the hospital's chief operating officer and top human resources executive resigned. Longtime Parkland CEO Dr. Ron Anderson was forced out, but is staying on as a senior advisor.

Gas Prices On The Rise

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Texas is up a penny from last week. But the weekly jump is higher in Dallas and Fort Worth.

The latest AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch shows a gallon of gas in North Texas is $3.11. That's up four cents in Dallas, a nickel in Fort Worth.

But that price is still below the statewide average of $3.12 a gallon.

AAA's Sarah Schimmer says an improving economy means more people are driving to work and traveling. She says that increases demand and prices at the pump.

Snowball Express Arrives In North Texas

For the third year, the Snowball Express rolls into Dallas starting Thursday night - with arrival of the first chartered flight at DFW Airport.

Snowball Express is an all-expense-paid, four-day vacation for the children and spouses of service men and women who've been killed in the line of duty since 9/11.

Dan Ronan is a volunteer Snowball Express board member. He says the holidays are difficult for many military families, with Dad or Mom NOT there.

Ronan: It's a tough time of year for them. So, if we can provide a little bit of hope and excitement and fun and a reconnection with their friends and families, then we feel like we've done a good job.

Ronan says more than 1700 children and spouses of fallen troops will be at this year's Snowball Express - the most ever. Activities include private concerts from actor Gary Sinese and the Lt. Dan Band, and ventriloquist --Mesquite-native -- Terry Fator.

EPA implicates fracking in pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the first time has implicated a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells in causing groundwater pollution.

The practice is called hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas.

The EPA announced Thursday that it found compounds likely associated with "fracking" chemicals in the groundwater beneath a Wyoming community where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals.

Less than half of Texas in worst drought stage

Recent rains in parts of Texas have led to less than half of the state being in the worst category of drought for the first time since last spring.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows 43.29 percent of Texas in exceptional drought, down from 52.67 percent last week.

It was the first time since May that the map showed less than 50 percent in the worst category. The highest percentage came in October at 87.99 percent.

Texas is in its worst single-year drought. The state has seen an average of about 12 inches of rain since January, just 46 percent of the normal total of 26 inches.

Blistering temperatures and dry conditions fostered wildfires that blackened about 6,000 square miles and destroyed more than 2,700 homes.

North Texas has 2.7 magnitude earthquake Wednesday

Texas has had another minor earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 2.7 magnitude earthquake happened at 4:54 p.m. Wednesday and was centered 16 miles east-northeast of Cleburne. The area is 29 miles southwest of Dallas.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported.

USGS says the last earthquake in Texas happened Nov. 24. The 3.0 magnitude quake was centered 17 miles north-northeast of Snyder, in West Texas.

A rare South Texas earthquake with a 4.8 magnitude happened Oct. 20, centered 37 miles northwest of Beeville. Nobody was hurt and no major damage was reported.

Fort Worth man in forklift chase not competent

A judge has decided a North Texas man accused of stealing a forklift and leading police on an Interstate 30 low-speed chase is not competent for trial.

A court official Wednesday said Timothy Raines of Fort Worth has been ordered to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon for evaluation.

Fort Worth police say Raines stole the forklift from a construction site on Aug. 13. Several vehicles and patrol cars barely avoided being hit during the chase, at a top speed of 16 mph.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Raines left the forklift in reverse when he hopped off. Police jumped on the forklift and turned it off. Nobody was hurt.

Raines is charged with assaulting a public servant, theft of property, evading arrest and driving while intoxicated.