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Posted: Feb 27, 2013 2:31 AM

Updated: Feb 27, 2013 2:31 AM


Jury to soon get corruption trial of Austin lawyer

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) A federal jury in Corpus Christi is poised to begin deliberations in the trial of an Austin lawyer charged in a South Texas judicial corruption case with racketeering.

Marc Rosenthal's case could go to the jury in Corpus Christi as early as Wednesday.

The prosecution completed presenting rebuttal witnesses Tuesday to respond to Rosenthal's own testimony. Prosecutors had originally rested last week.

Rosenthal is accused of bribing former state District Judge Abel Limas, who failed to advance beyond the primary in his 2008 re-election bid. Rosenthal allegedly sought favorable rulings from Limas before the jurist left the bench at the end of 2008 and also offered Limas a job.

Limas has already pleaded guilty to racketeering and awaits sentencing.


Parents of gun range killings suspect thank victim

DALLAS (AP) The parents of the man accused of killing former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle on a Texas gun range are publicly thanking the celebrated sniper for helping their son deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The mother of Eddie Ray Routh said Tuesday she and her husband want others with PTSD "to know their struggle is recognized."

In a statement, Jodi Routh also expressed hope that the tragedy will "somehow help in getting care and assistance for those in need."

Eddie Ray Routh is charged with a capital murder count and two murder counts stemming from the killings of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield on Feb. 2.

The 25-year-old Routh has been described as a troubled vet who was hospitalized for mental problems.

Kyle wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper."


School board hears comment on religious banner ban

(Information in the following story is from: KFDM-TV, http://www.kfdm.com)

KOUNTZE, Texas (AP) A Southeast Texas school board has listened to public comments on its decision to bar high school cheerleaders from displaying religious messages on banners at sporting events.

The Kountze (koonts) Independent School District board listened to comments for about 1 hours Tuesday night. KFDM-TV of Beaumont reports 16 spoke for lifting the ban while only one spoke against repeal.

The board took no action and scheduled none but said it would take written comments for another 10 days.

The district implemented the ban last year after a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to the church-state separation. Cheerleaders and the state attorney general contend that the ban violates the students' free speech rights, and a judge blocked the ban pending resolution of a foundation lawsuit.


Senate budget panel adds twist to Medicaid bill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) An emergency $4.5 billion spending bill for Medicaid is on its way to the full Texas Senate but with a slight twist.

The powerful Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday tacked on a provision that would require lawmakers to approve another bill that would reverse a nearly $2 billion deferral in education spending that budget-slashing lawmakers passed in 2011.

The provision was not in the emergency bill passed by the full Texas House last week. Republican Jim Pitts, the top budget writer in the House, has said the Medicaid bill must be on Gov. Rick Perry's desk next month or doctors and hospitals won't get paid.

Reversing the deferral now would give the Legislature more money to potentially spend while writing the current budget.


Proposal to tie college funds to completion rate

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Texas lawmakers are working on a proposal to tie higher education funding to completion rates at state universities.

House Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Branch will give details of his plan in a news conference on Wednesday.

Under current policy, much of the funding for colleges is based on enrollment figures. Branch, who's a Dallas Republican, has filed legislation to link more appropriations with measures of student success.

The state Higher Education Coordinating Board says college enrollment has increased by more than half a million students statewide since 2000. But an advocacy group called Complete College America says college completion rates have changed little since 1970.

The Legislature cut $1 billion in higher education funding during the last session in 2011.


Jeb Bush to address Texas Senate Education panel

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is among the experts from other states set to address the Texas Senate Education Committee.

Houston Republican Sen. Dan Patrick chairs the committee and called Wednesday's meeting to discuss "best practices," or successful educational reforms outside Texas.

Patrick wants to dramatically expand charter schools, and also backs a voucher plan that would offer public money to families to allow them to send their children to private schools.

Bush has championed school choice in Florida but is largely seen as a moderate on many other key issues.

His son, George P. Bush, plans to run for statewide office in Texas next year. He hasn't said which one, but is leaning toward land commissioner.

The elder Bush is considered a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination.


Survey firm to plead in Pa. illegal immigrant case

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) Federal prosecutors say a Texas seismic surveying firm and an employee have agreed to plead guilty to charges related to transportation of 19 illegal immigrants for a project in central Pennsylvania.

The U.S. attorney's office says GPX/GPX USA of Sealy, Texas has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal immigrants and a field operations supervisor will plead guilty to a misdemeanor count. Authorities said the company will forfeit $250,000, pay a $25,000 fine and implement a program to confirm the identities and employment eligibility of current and prospective employees. Both agreements are subject to court approval.

Officials said the company provides seismic and surface mapping surveys for the oil and gas industry and hired the workers in May 2011 for a project in Lycoming County.

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