Dewhurst tweet says bill attempt to close clinics
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Senate Republicans insist proposed new restrictions on abortion facilities are designed to protect women's health.
But a tweet Wednesday from the account of Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said what Democrats have claimed all along: the plan is an attempt to shut down clinics and all but ban abortion in Texas.
Senate Republicans Tuesday night passed sweeping new restrictions on how Texas abortion clinics operate. Critics say the changes would force most to close.
A tweet from the @DavidHDewhurst Twitter account included a map from an abortion rights group showing clinic locations that says "it would essentially ban abortion statewide."
"We fought to pass SB5 thru the Senate last night, & this is why!" the tweet said
A telephone message left with Dewhurst's office was not immediately returned.
SPECIAL SESSION-JUVENILE JUSTICE
Texas House panel approves new youth punishment
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Texas House panel has endorsed a bill to create a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole after 40 years for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.
The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee sent the bill Wednesday to the full House, which is expected to vote before the end of the 30-day special session next week.
The bill has already passed the Senate, but House lawmakers say they may still consider more punishment options.
Currently, a 17-year-old convicted of capital murder in Texas is sentenced to life in prison without parole. But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such a sentence is unconstitutional for minors.
Texas has more than 25 inmates sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed as juveniles.
GAO says airline merger would reduce competition
DALLAS (AP) - A government analyst says the merger of Fort Worth-based American Airlines and US Airways would reduce competition on more than 1,600 routes traveled by more than 53 million passengers.
A researcher for the Government Accountability Office said Wednesday that the loss of competition would be greater than occurred in the 2010 merger of United and Continental airlines.
American and US Airways executives have defended their combination, noting that they overlap on only 12 nonstop routes. But the GAO also considers connecting routes - those with at least one stop.
GAO researcher Gerald Dillingham says that competition would decline with the American-US Airways merger because there would be one less airline flying those connecting routes.
The Department of Justice is still studying the merger.
Hundreds attend funeral service for Texas officer
TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) - Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral service for an East Texas police officer who died after being hit by a vehicle during a disturbance at a park.
The service for Texarkana police officer William Jason Sprague was held Wednesday in Texarkana and included a procession of emergency vehicles to First Baptist Church. Police officers and firefighters formed a long line extending from the church's entrance.
Sprague was hurt early Friday while responding to a call about fights at the park. He had exited his patrol car when he was struck by a vehicle fleeing the area. The 30-year-old died Saturday.
Police arrested 21-year-old Justin Sanders and authorities charged him with aggravated assault on a public servant. The charge could be upgraded. He remains in custody on a $1.5 million bond.
Texas tops US in number of lost, stolen firearms
DALLAS (AP) - Federal authorities say Texas has far and away the largest number of firearms in the U.S. reported as lost or stolen.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a report this week showing there were 18,874 firearms lost or stolen in Texas in 2012. The figure represents 10% of the total national number. The next closest state was Georgia with 12,906.
The figures represent just those firearms reported missing to federal agencies and are seen as falling far below actual numbers.
The bureau publishes the report annually to increase transparency while providing additional data for law enforcement to share.
BSA appeals Texas order to turn over abuse files
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Boy Scouts of America is asking the Texas Supreme Court to review an order requiring it to turn over years of so-called perversion files in a child abuse lawsuit.
BSA filed its request last week, a month after the San Antonio-based 4th Court of Appeals sided with a district judge's order. Attorneys for a former Scout who says he was abused by his Scout leader are asking for about a decade's worth of the internal files.
Files publicly revealed from 1965 to 1985 in a different case showed a decades-long cover-up for sexual abuse allegations by Scout officials.
Scouts spokesman Deron Smith declined to comment. Paul Mones, an attorney for the ex-Scout, says he will wait to see what the court does on the case.
EL PASO-PUBLIC CORRUPTION
Appeals court vacates West Texas corruption ruling
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling by a West Texas judge that resulted in a 6-year prison sentence for a man accused of fraud.
The federal panel determined in a filing Tuesday that the judge interfered with plea negotiations involving Adrian Pena. The El Paso contractor pleaded guilty in December 2010 to fraud for his participation in a scheme to bribe officials to win county contracts.
The appeals court says federal Judge Frank Montalvo's condition that a separate civil case involving Pena be resolved before he accepted the plea induced Pena to cooperate with the government in the investigation and plead guilty, rather than continue bargaining.
The ruling orders the guilty plea and 6-year prison sentence vacated and requires further proceedings be handled by a different judge.
TEXAS BUS CRASH-INDICTMENT
Bus company owner faces charges from 2008 crash
HOUSTON (AP) - The owner of a bus that crashed and killed 17 people on their way to a religious retreat in Texas in 2008 has been indicted on federal charges that include making false statements on official documents.
Authorities said Angel de La Torre of Houston and an associate were taken into custody Wednesday, when an indictment returned on May 30th was unsealed.
The indictment charges de La Torre and his company, Angel Tours, with one count of conspiracy to make false statements, four counts of making false statements and one count of operating a commercial motor vehicle after being placed out of service.
Fifty-five members of Houston's Vietnamese Catholic community were headed to a conclave in Missouri when the bus crashed near Sherman, 60 miles north of Dallas.
NJ Gov. Christie is still a Dallas Cowboys fan
SAYREVILLE, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surprised some schoolchildren when he told them his favorite football team is the Dallas Cowboys.
His pronouncement Tuesday at a school in central New Jersey drew shouts, gasps and some boos.
But his love of the Cowboys is no secret. In 2010, the then-rookie governor proclaimed his favorite sports teams to be the Cowboys, the New York Mets, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.
Christie says those are teams he grew up rooting for.
The governor, now running for re-election, joked that being a Cowboys fan "is not the smartest thing for the governor of New Jersey to be."
The Cowboys are hated division rivals of both the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, which also have a big New Jersey fan base. Dallas split the series with the Giants and swept the Eagles last season.
HOUSTON ASTRODOME'S FUTURE
Board backs turning Astrodome into convention hall
HOUSTON (AP) - A county board has recommended converting Houston's historic but deteriorating Astrodome into a giant convention center and exhibition space.
The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation on Wednesday opted to go with its own plan for the world's first domed, air-conditioned stadium instead of 1 of 19 private-sector plans submitted for its reuse. The board says the groups promoting the private plans didn't meet the project's criteria by a deadline earlier this month.
The board's proposal would cost an estimated $194 million and take about 2½ years to complete. The plan now goes to Harris County commissioners, who will discuss it at a June 25 meeting.
The stadium once dubbed "the eighth wonder of the world" has been vacant since 2009, when it was deemed unfit for occupancy.
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