Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas is a step closer to a ban on texting while driving; Levi Pettit apologizes for his role in the racist fraternity video; elephants keep an 18-wheeler from falling over; and more.
The Texas House has approved a statewide ban on texting while driving. The Associated Press reports: The plan had cleared the Legislature previously but fell victim to a gubernatorial veto — and may face a similar fate this time. Sponsored by Midland Republican and former House Speaker Tom Craddick, the bill allows police to stop drivers suspected of texting. It passed 102-40 Wednesday, after hours of debate. Critics say it infringes on personal liberty and is unnecessary since 38 local ordinances, affecting most Texans, are already in place. Others worry it creates a "slippery slope," allowing police to stop virtually anyone without proof of texting. Lawmakers approved a statewide texting ban in 2011, but then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it. Gov. Greg Abbott says "it's premature" to say whether he'll veto a ban. [Associated Press]
- Levi Pettit has apologized. He’s the former University of Oklahoma student featured in a racist chant that was captured on video. On Wednesday, he made his first public remarks since the incident sparked national headlines. Pettit, a Highland Park High School grad, says he's deeply sorry for his role in the incident and "upset and embarrassed" that he failed to stop it. “I want to ask you for your forgiveness. There are no excuses for my behavior,” he said. “I never thought of myself as a racist. But the bottom line is the words that were said in that chant were mean, hateful and racist.” Read more here. [KERA/Associated Press]
- Texas is home to some of the fastest-growing counties in the country. The Texas Tribune reports: “As Texas' population continues to climb, it's the state's suburbs that are seeing the quickest growth, census figures show. Three of the state's counties and four metropolitan areas ranked among the fastest-growing areas in the country, according to population estimates that the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday. The estimates, which track population increases from July 2013 to July 2014, show that the most rapid growth in the state was concentrated in Central Texas suburbs, West Texas cities and the greater Houston area.” Read more here. [Texas Tribune]
- For all the breakthroughs in cancer care over the last few decades, sometimes the best treatment just doesn’t work. That’s what happened to Jude Cobler of Plano. Jude was 5 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When Jude's chemotherapy didn’t work, his odds of survival dropped drastically. Jude would need a bone marrow transplant. But as a multiracial child -- his mom is from the Philippines, his dad is Caucasian -- chances of finding a match were slim. Find out what happens in Chapter 2 of the KERA Breakthroughs series Growing Up After Cancer.
- Some elephants bound for Dallas helped keep an 18-wheeler from falling over in Louisiana. Here’s more from The Town Talk: “An 18-wheeler stuck in some mud alongside Interstate 49 in Natchitoches Parish in Louisiana was in danger of tipping over, but help came from the truck's cargo. The big rig was hauling three elephants from New Orleans to Dallas when the driver of the 2000 Kenworth pulled over and became stuck in the mud. Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's deputies were sent to the scene near the Powhatan exit to help around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. ‘When deputies arrived on scene, they were astounded to find two elephants keeping the eighteen wheeler from overturning,’ reads the release.” [USA Today/The Town Talk]