Nearly 300,000 Texans get new health insurance
HOUSTON (AP) - Fewer than 90,000 Texans bought health insurance in the new federally subsidized marketplace in the past month, leaving thousands uninsured with just weeks left before open enrollment ends March 31.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Tuesday that 295,025 Texans have bought insurance on the marketplace since Oct. 1, when enrollment began. That means just over 87,400 people have signed up since mid-February when the department reported just over 207,400 had enrolled.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation, nearly one in four, and a GOP governor, Rick Perry, who is vocally opposed to President Barack Obama's signature program. But Florida, which also has a high number of uninsured and a GOP governor who opposes the program, has had more people enroll.
GOVERNOR'S RACE-EQUAL PAY
Abbott, Davis trade verbal barbs on dueling issues
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas' gubernatorial candidates are trading verbal barbs over dueling issues.
Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis insisted Tuesday that her opponent won't commit to solidifying gender pay equality into state law.
And Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott fired back that Davis' law firm may have profited from her work in the Legislature.
Davis co-sponsored a 2013 bill ensuring Texas law mirrored the 2009 federal Lilly Ledbetter Act's gender wage protections. But outgoing Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it, saying federal statues made similar state law repetitive.
Davis argues that her measure allowed women more flexibility to sue in state courts and avoid more-expensive federal discrimination cases.
Abbott has refused to say if he'd veto a similar state Ledbetter Act as governor. Instead he's questioning public-sector clients Davis' Fort Worth law firm represents.
NEW MEXICO-TEXAS-WATER FIGHT
King accuses feds of trying to siphon NM water
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says the federal government has sided with Texas in an effort to take the state's groundwater.
King responded Tuesday to a motion by the government to intervene in a dispute over management of the Rio Grande. Texas first took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court more than a year ago.
New Mexico maintains it is meeting its water delivery obligations to Texas.
But the federal government alleges groundwater pumping in New Mexico is tapping the shallow aquifer that would otherwise drain back into the Rio Grande and flow to Texas.
In the latest court filing, King claims groundwater is a separate source of water from the Rio Grande Project, which provides farmers in southern New Mexico and Texas with irrigation water.
Family of slain Texas teen offers forgiveness
WYLIE, Texas (AP) - The parents of a 17-year-old North Texas teen say they've forgiven anyone responsible for killing him.
Two 16-year-old boys are accused of choking Ivan Mejia (meh-HEE'-yah) to death in Wylie in what authorities say may have been a dispute over a girl. The boys were arrested Saturday night in a nearby wooded area, where police say the teens admitted they were trying to bury Mejia's body.
Flavio and Ana Mejia told KXAS-TV of Fort Worth and Dallas on Tuesday that they wanted Ivan remembered for his ROTC activities and desire to join the Marine Corps after graduation from Wylie East High School, near Dallas.
Family spokesman Benjamin Alicea says the Mejias are "offering forgiveness, even to those who participated in the crime."
The 16-year-olds are in Collin County custody.
Woman sentenced in husband's burning death
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A woman convicted of arson in the bathtub burning death of her husband has been sentenced by a Central Texas jury to 20 years in prison.
Travis County jurors reached their decision Tuesday in the punishment trial of Shriya Patel (pah-TEHL'). She had faced a sentence of five years to life in prison for the April 2012 incident that killed 29-year-old Bimal Patel.
Jurors deliberated two days before acquitting the 27-year-old woman of capital murder Monday but finding her guilty of first-degree arson. A capital murder conviction would have meant life imprisonment without parole.
Prosecutors say she lured her husband to the tub, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. Her attorney says the man wanted to kill himself and made her help.
$600K taken from safe at Osteen's megachurch
HOUSTON (AP) - Police say $600,000 in checks and cash has been stolen from the Houston megachurch led by Pastor Joel Osteen (OH'-steen).
Police spokesman Kese (KEES) Smith says $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks were stolen from a safe sometime between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Monday.
No arrests have been made.
In a statement, Lakewood Church said the money and checks taken, as well as some envelopes with credit card information, was limited only to funds given during this past weekend's services.
Church officials say there's no data breach and the stolen funds are insured. Credit card information was in donation envelopes.
Church officials declined further comment Tuesday.
More than 40,000 people attend weekly services led by Osteen, whose televised sermons reach nearly 100 countries.
Texas schools balk at state calculator requirement
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Local school officials say efforts to equip students with new technology are being impeded by a state directive that they must purchase costly calculators for eighth-graders.
School districts are eager to invest in iPads and other mobile devices for students. Administrators could then download a $15 application that works as a calculator.
But the Austin American-Statesman reports the state requires a graphing calculator that costs $100 a piece.
The state for now won't allow schools to use the app in lieu of the calculator because of test security concerns.
Administrators contend the state directive could slow efforts to personalize instruction if districts must redirect dollars away from "one-to-one" initiatives to supply the graphing calculators, which are required for next year's State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.
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