Texas Jobless Rate Falls Under 7 Percent In April | KERA News

Texas Jobless Rate Falls Under 7 Percent In April

The Texas unemployment rate is under 7 percent for the first time in three years, falling to 6.9 percent for April as the state added 13,200 nonfarm jobs.

The Texas Workforce Commission said Friday that the jobless rate fell from 7.0 percent in March and 8.0 percent a year ago.

The state's jobless rate was last under 7 percent at 6.9 percent in March 2009.

The national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

Agency figures show that eight of the 11 major industries in Texas gained jobs in April, led by construction with 7,300 jobs. Midland still has the lowest local unemployment rate at 3.5 percent.

AP

Texas High Court orders state to pay ex-inmate $2M

The Texas Supreme Court has ordered the state to pay about $2 million to an ex-inmate who spent 26 years in prison for murder before his conviction was overturned.

Billy Frederick Allen's attempts to get the money have been watched as a key case in developing standards for when ex-prisoners should be compensated. State Comptroller Susan Combs resisted paying Allen, arguing his conviction was overturned because of ineffective lawyers, not because he had proven his innocence.

But the state Supreme Court says the criminal courts showed Allen had a legitimate innocence claim and he should be paid.

Allen was convicted of two 1983 Dallas-area murders. He was freed in 2009 and sued the state for compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

AP

Senate committee holds hearing on teachers

The Texas higher education commissioner has told lawmakers that teachers are not adequately trained to prepare students for tough new standardized tests.

Commissioner Raymund Paredes told the Senate Education Committee that while the state is demanding more from children, school teachers don't have the training they need.

His statement set off a debate among senators on what the state needed to do. Paredes told the committee that national and international studies show recruiting top college students to enter teaching was the important first step. Then offering the best teacher training and paying them well are the next steps.

Last year the Republican-controlled Legislature cut $4 billion in spending for public schools, the first such cut since World War II. That has forced school districts to lay-off teachers across the state.

AP

Texas prisons must disclose execution drug details

The Texas attorney general's office says state prison officials must disclose information about who supplies lethal drugs for executions and how much of the drugs the Department of Criminal Justice has on hand.

The opinion this week came in response to public information requests filed earlier this year by the Austin American-Statesman and a British newspaper, The Guardian.

Prison officials had argued the information could be harmful to employees and provide death penalty opponents with an avenue to harass the drug suppliers in the hope those firms would refuse to do business with the state.

The Statesman reported Friday that the attorney general considered those reasons too speculative and vague. Prison officials told the newspaper they hadn't seen the opinion yet.

AP

Dallas boy, 4, allegedly took cocaine to school

Dallas police have arrested a 4-year-old boy's parents and his uncle after the child took a bag of alleged crack cocaine to preschool.

Jail records show 26-year-olds Joshua and Christy Ruiz, plus 21-year-old Moses Ruiz, remained in custody Friday. The parents have been charged with child endangerment. Police say Joshua Ruiz and Moses Ruiz are accused of distribution of a controlled substance.

The arrests came after officers were notified by the charter school that the boy was seen playing with the bag Wednesday.

Bond for Christy Ruiz has been set at $100,000. Her husband is jailed on $600,000 bond. Bond has been set at $100,000 for Moses Ruiz. Online records did not list attorneys for them.

The 4-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sibling have been placed with Child Protective Services.

AP

Ex-TWU student, vet gets prison over 2011 threat

An injured former U.S. serviceman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for threatening a Texas congressman.

Christopher Gillette also was sentenced to 10 years of probation for making a threat in class while attending Texas Woman's University. The March 1, 2011, incident led to a lockdown of the Denton campus. Gillette was later arrested at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Dallas.

Prosecutors say Gillette threatened U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess in a previous letter complaining about not getting enough medical help. Authorities say Gillette was injured in military training accidents and had lingering pain.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reported Thursday that Gillette was convicted this month of making a terroristic threat that would impair public or government service. His prison time and probation will be served concurrently.

AP

West Texas election to be decided with coin toss

A coin flip will decide the outcome of a recent West Texas city council election after both candidates had the same number of votes.

The coin toss Friday will break the 118-vote tie between council candidates in Wolfforth, near Lubbock. Bruce MacNair and Bryan Studer agreed to the option because they didn't want the city to pay $10,000 for a run-off.

The city attorney drew up a three-page contract outlining rules of the coin toss based on state election procedures for municipalities.

Texas election law provides three options in the event of a tie: a runoff election, one candidate conceding or some form of casting lots.

The candidates will draw for who gets heads and who gets tail.

AP