Texas Could Have 2 Primary Votes | KERA News

Texas Could Have 2 Primary Votes

Following arguments over redistricting before the U.S. Supreme Court, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas says the state might be forced to hold two primary elections.

Steve Munisteri sent an e-mail Tuesday saying that time is running out to hold the presidential primary and party elections on the same day as the congressional and legislative primaries. The primary is scheduled for April 3.

If the Supreme Court doesn't rule in time to have political maps in place by the end of January, there won't be time to elect delegates to the state party conventions in June. That means one vote in April for races that do not involve districts, and another vote later for Congress and the Legislature.

There is no word on when the Court will rule.

Texas suit against J&J over drug goes to trial

Texas prosecutors say drug maker Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries schemed to plunder hundreds of millions of dollars from the state Medicaid program by overstating the safety of an anti-psychotic drug and should be forced to repay that money plus penalties.

Opening arguments began Tuesday in a trial in which the state is asking a jury to award the state as much as $1 billion to recover more than $570 million in prescriptions paid plus penalties.

A lawyer for the company, which is facing similar claims in other states, insists Johnson & Johnson did not manipulate the Texas system which listed the drug Risperdal among its preferred medications for treating schizophrenia.

Johnson & Johnson says the drug was an improvement over earlier anti-psychotic drugs and that testimony from doctors will support its use.

Texas Senate mulls drought impact on power supply

Texas Senate Democrats are afraid continued drought could lead to brownouts and keep major firms from expanding statewide because of fears about an unreliable power grid.

Vast amounts of water are often necessary to generate electricity - something complicated by the worst single-year drought in Texas history.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said Tuesday the lack of rainfall poses serious concerns "about the ability to keep the lights on."

San Antonio Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said companies are already hesitating to expand in Texas because of concerns about power shortfalls.

Trip Doggett, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told senators that the drought probably won't cause significant shortfalls through the end of this year but could have severe impacts on energy production if it lasts into 2013.

Airlines face requirement to include taxes, fees in advertised cost of a plane ticket

New rules from the U.S. Transportation Department will require that advertised prices include taxes and mandatory fees.

Currently, airlines just have to note that other charges apply, and provide a link or footnote to the details. Government and airport charges can add 20 percent or more to the price of an airline ticket.

Recently, the Southwest Airlines website quoted prices starting at $99 to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles. Come Jan. 26, Southwest could have to show a fare of $120.60.

But airlines complain that other industries don't have to include taxes in advertised prices. And they worry about the effect on ticket sales.

David Berg is general counsel for Airlines for America, a trade group of the biggest carriers. He says the change will depress travel. Dallas-based Southwest, along with Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, are fighting the government in court, hoping to roll back the rule. But a decision in that case isn't expected until after the rule takes effect.

Fake gun found in same district of fatal shooting

Authorities in the same South Texas school district where a student brandishing a pellet gun was fatally shot by police last week have found a gun that shoots blanks and a machete in a student's car on another campus.

Brownsville school district spokeswoman Drue Brown says campus police acting on a tip found the items Tuesday morning at Lopez High School. She says the student and a parent were at the school and gave police permission to search the vehicle.

Brown says no one at the school was in danger and police were questioning the student.

The discovery came six days after 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was shot and killed in a Cummings Middle School hallway when he refused to put down a pellet gun that police believed was a handgun.

Midland snowfall outpaces several points north

A city built on "black gold" in the West Texas oil patch has seen more snow this winter than points north that usually get buried in the white stuff.

The National Weather Service says 19.5 inches of snow have fallen in Midland since Dec. 1, with 10.6 inches coming Monday after a strong weather system moved in from New Mexico.

Meteorologist Ryan Barnes says the total is more than three times what Buffalo, N.Y., has received (5.5 inches). Duluth, Minn., has seen only 8.3 inches.

Additionally, just 3.1 inches have fallen in Fargo, N.D. The total is even lower in Chicago at 1.9 inches.

The snow may not help the drought-ravaged region. The weather service says Monday's total translates to less than an inch of rain.