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Thu April 26, 2012
Texas At Top For Mandated Health Insurance Rebates
Texas health insurance customers will get about 185 million dollars in rebates this summer.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, 80 to 85% of premiums collected must be spent on health care or quality improvement. If companies exceed the spending limit for administration, salaries, and marketing, they must rebate customers that amount.
Gary Claxton, a researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation, looked at preliminary data filed with state insurance departments, including Texas.
Claxton: So most people who have individual insurance, the vast majority of people who have individual insurance in Texas are insured by a company that owes a rebate under the law.
93% of the individual policy-holders insured by 11 different companies will get rebates. That’s the highest rate of any state. Those rebates will average $193.00.
More than 30% of Texans in the small and large “group” insurance categories will get rebates of about $50. Claxton says that money will go to the employers who provide insurance.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Food Trucks Find A Home
Food trucks have a new home in the Dallas Arts District.
A week ago, city officials surprised food truck operators by telling them they couldn’t park on Flora Street after all. They were instructed to move back to a nearby parking lot, their home before the city expanded its ordinance allowing more food trucks.
After talks with City Hall, the popular food trucks are now doing business in nearby Sammons Park: on each side of the Winspear Opera House.
City officials say the food trucks are welcome on Arts District property, not city streets.
The trucks will be a lunchtime feature at Sammons Plaza in the Arts District Monday through Friday.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Lockheed CEO To Retire
Lockheed Martin’s CEO Bob Stevens is retiring after 25 years.
President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Kubasik will succeed Stevens effective January 1st.
In addition to that announcement, Lockheed also reported strong first quarter profits and sales Thursday.
Lockheed Fort Worth is the company’s largest division – building fighter jets and cargo planes.
Also this week, nearly four thousand members of the Machinists union are on strike – protesting Lockheed’s plan to raise health premiums and eliminate pension plans for new hires.
BJ Austin, KERA News
DISD Board Could Hire Miles Early
The Dallas School Board could ok hiring DISD’s incoming superintendent early at tonight’s board meeting. Trustee Nancy Bingham says it makes sense to bring in Mike Miles sooner than later.
Bingham: He does want to come in and start planning and getting ready. So it would be like him as a consultant. You would pay him on a per-day basis. Because his official contract won’t begin until July.
Bingham says Miles could start here as soon as this weekend. She does not know what the district might pay. As for the full-time job, she wouldn’t discuss salary possibilities, but expects there will be incentives tied to both student performance and longevity. Bingham says trustees want Mike Miles in Dallas for a while. The last Superintendent, Michael Hinojosa, earned $328,000 when he left.
Bill Zeeble, KERA News
Retail gasoline prices drop 6 cents across Texas
Retail gasoline prices across Texas have dropped 6 cents this week to settle at an average $3.74 per gallon. AAA Texas on Thursday reported that crude oil prices are lower a result of a slowdown in overseas economies.
The travel group says the nationwide average price per gallon of gasoline is $3.83.
The association survey found that Houston and Galveston have the most expensive gasoline, at $3.80 a gallon.
Amarillo had the cheapest gasoline statewide, going for $3.50 per gallon.
Perry endorses former rival Romney for president
Gov. Rick Perry has formally endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential bid, saying he hopes the candidate he once bitterly opposed wins the White House.
The Texas governor clashed frequently with Romney and even branded the ex-Massachusetts governor a "vulture capitalist" during Perry's own failed run for the Republican presidential nomination.
When he dropped out of the race in January, Perry allied himself with former House speaker Newt Gingrich instead of Romney.
But word that Gingrich plans to give up his presidential bid next week prompted a change of heart for Perry.
In a statement, Perry said Romney earned his status as the presumptive GOP nominee, "through hard work, a strong organization, and disciplined message of restoring America after nearly four years of failed job-killing policies from President Obama."
West Texas ag producers need soaking rains soon
As West Texas cotton producers await planting next month, they're hoping for a weather forecast that calls for above-normal rainfall.
That's one possibility in a three-month outlook that National Weather Service officials will share at a drought forum in Lubbock on Thursday. The agency's Victor Murphy says that through July the state has equal chances for above-normal, normal or below-normal rainfall.
Texas agriculture is coming off record losses in 2011, $7.6 billion, as the state suffered through the driest year on record. Good rains have come to central and eastern parts of the state the past several months, but much of West Texas remain in severe to exceptional drought.
And triple-digit heat, which along with windy conditions exacerbated last year's drought, is back. Lubbock hit 104 degrees Wednesday.
Vermont convicted sex offender sentenced in Texas
A convicted sex offender from Vermont who never registered his criminal history when he moved to East Texas must serve nearly two years in prison.
A federal judge in Tyler on Wednesday sentenced 60-year-old Raymond Leo Lemaire Jr.
Lemaire last September pleaded guilty to failing to register when he relocated in 2010 to Whitehouse, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.
Lemaire was convicted in 2004 of lewd conduct with a minor. Further details on the Vermont case were not immediately available.
He was indicted last July in Texas.