Daily Roundup
11:57 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Texas Jobless Rate Down To 7.3 Percent In January

The unemployment rate in Texas has fallen to 7.3 percent in January, the state's lowest jobless figure in nearly three years.

The Texas Workforce Commission said Friday that the unemployment rate fell from 7.4 percent in December. The state figure remains below the national rate of 8.3 percent.

The commission says the jobless rate is the lowest since April 2009.

Texas added 67,200 nonfarm jobs in January, and commission Chairman Tom Pauken says the state is "seeing substantial economic growth."

Nine of the 11 major industries in Texas added jobs in January, led by professional and business services with 18,100 jobs.

Midland had by far the lowest local jobless rate at 4.1 percent. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the highest at 11.7 percent.

AP

Feds to stop funding Texas women's health program

The federal government will stop funding a Texas health program that serves 130,000 low-income women because of a state law that bars abortion-affiliated clinics from getting public money.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says Friday she plans to "let Texas know that that waiver will not be extended." The money will be phased out between May and September to give women a chance to find alternative care.

Federal funds cover 90 percent of the program. Sebelius says Texas' law violates federal regulation requiring women to have a choice in medical care, and a waiver that allowed the money to flow will not be extended.

Gov. Rick Perry says he will use state money to save the program that provides cancer screenings and other critical health care to women.     

AP

Dallas Courthouse Clean Up Progressing

Clean up crews will work around the clock this weekend to get the Frank Crowley Courthouse ready to open Monday. 

Yesterday, a water pipe broke and flooded the first floor, knocking-out the elevators and causing other damage.

Officials say the leak appears to have originated from the sprinkler system pipes.

And the search continues for Juan Ramires, a jail inmate who was assigned to the clean-up yesterday.  In the confusion, he walked away.  He was in jail on misdemeanor charges. Now, he’s facing felony escape.  

BJ Austin, KERA News

Fort Worth Man Draws Lengthy Prison Sentence

A 39 year old man from Fort Worth, arrested for being a peeping tom, is going to prison for 22 years. But the prison sentence is for child pornography.

When arrested outside a home two years ago, Michael Starowicz admitted he secretly took photos and video of people as they showered. He also told officers they would find child porn on his home computer.  

At his sentencing Friday, the judge also ordered Starowicz to serve a lifetime of supervised release.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Ebby Halliday Turns 101

Dallasreal estate legend Ebby Halliday turned 101 years old Friday.

Last year, she celebrated her 100th with a huge bash at the Myerson.  This year, she was serenaded and applauded at the Dallas elementary school that bears her name.

Ebby Halliday Elementary opened last year in the Rylie area of southeast Dallas.  It can accommodate more than 800 students and is considered one of the district’s “greenest” schools.   

BJ Austin, KERA News

Irving Blvd Bridge Over Loop 12 Closed

A heads-up for commuters:  TxDOT has closed the Irving Boulevard bridge over Loop 12.  An unknown vehicle hit it and damaged a primary beam.

Westbound drivers must northbound on the Loop 12 frontage road, make the next U-turn, and take the south frontage road back to Irving Boulevard. Eastbound drivers need to take the ‘split’ at Shady Grove to cross Loop 12.

TxDOT says the bridge will be closed until repairs are made.  No timeline given. 

BJ Austin, KERA News

Candidates reach deadline for May 29 primary

Political candidates are filing their last minute paperwork to take part in the May 29 primary.

The state added four new congressional seats and in two of them minorities make up the majority of voters. Democrats are expected to win both of those seats, one in the Dallas Fort-Worth area and another centered on Brownsville. Republicans are also expected to add two members to the Texas delegation to Congress.

There will also be significant turnover in the Legislature in 2013. At least four out of 31 senators are retiring and at least 17 out of 150 representatives are not running for re-election. All of the departing senators and 10 of the House members are Republicans.

The close of business on Friday is the deadline for politicians to register to run.

AP

TxDOT: State has $2 billion more to spend on roads

The Texas Department of Transportation says it's found it has $2 billion more to spend on road projects than previously thought.

TxDOT finance chief James Bass tells the Austin American-Statesman credits a more optimistic assessment of available federal funds, combined with extra borrowing and lower-than-expected construction costs for ongoing projects.

He says that'll mean TxDOT districts around the state will be able to pull projects off the shelf. It's still unclear how the money will be apportioned, however.

AP

Apple to add 3,600 jobs in Texas with state help

Apple Inc. will build a new facility in Austin that is expected to create more than 3,600 jobs.

Gov. Rick Perry announced the facility Friday. He says Apple's new campus will more than double the number of workers Apple has in Texas during the next decade.

Apple will get $21 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund, created by the Legislature in 2003 to lure businesses and job growth. Perry says a local incentive agreement with Austin and Travis County is still pending.

The new campus will provide customer support, sales and accounting functions for Apple.

AP

Man freed in East Texas stabbing wants new judge

Attorneys for a man once on death row for the rape and killing of an East Texas woman want his request for new DNA testing to be heard by a judge outside the county.

Kerry Max Cook was twice sentenced to death for the 1977 stabbing of Linda Jo Edwards. Courts overturned both convictions. In 1999, Cook agreed to plead no contest to murder in exchange for a sentence of time served and went free.

The prosecutor during one of Cook's trials is now a judge and will not decide on Cook's latest motion. Cook's attorneys say other Smith County judges should also step aside to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt. Cook says new DNA testing could prove his innocence.

AP