News

Flickr user Fibonacci Blue / cc

AUSTIN — The national debate over religious objection laws roiled again Thursday in Texas, after Republican lawmakers abruptly pushed a new proposal on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing historic arguments over gay marriage.

Even advocates for same-sex couples say the bill, aimed at allowing clergy members to refuse officiating marriages that violate their beliefs, largely duplicates protections that already exist.

However, the legislation drew attention because of its timing — weeks after filing deadlines had passed in the Texas Senate and on the same day the landmark gay marriage case was heard in Washington.

Ryan E. Poppe

AUSTIN — The Texas House has preliminarily passed a plan revamping the state’s economic incentive programs, including dissolving a pet fund of Rick Perry that funneled $200 million in taxpayer dollars to startups.

Lawmakers used a simple voice vote Thursday to advance the measure, which Perry’s successor, Gov. Greg Abbott, has prioritized. It eliminates the Emerging Technology Fund. Perry said the fund had spurred Texas’ economy, but critics note it funded some firms that didn’t create jobs or went bankrupt.

AUSTIN — The Texas House has voted overwhelmingly to funnel more than $3 billion in annual tax revenue from car sales to building and maintaining traffic-clogged roads statewide.

Thursday’s 138-3 vote gave preliminary approval to a proposed constitutional amendment. If passed by voters next November, it would take effect in 2017.

It is similar to a proposed constitutional amendment passed in March by the Senate, which would ask voters to divert $2.5 billion in annual vehicle sales tax revenue to road funding beginning in 2018.

Gov. Greg Abbott has made bolstering transportation infrastructure a priority since the state's aging road network has been overtaxed by Texas’ booming population.

Augustas Didžgalvis / CC

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate has approved a plan that would allow shoppers to buy guns, ammunition and hunting supplies without having to pay sales taxes during the last weekend in August.

The state already designates annual sales tax-free weekends for the purchase of some school supplies and energy-efficient appliances. Sen. Brandon Creighton’s plan would extend the same exemption to firearm purchases.

The Conroe Republican noted that Louisiana established in 2009 a tax-free weekend for guns, ammo and hunting supplies during the first weekend in September.

Rio Grande Valley Adds To Border Horse Patrol

Apr 30, 2015
Courtesy: U.S. Customs And Border Protection

MISSION, Texas — Jared Barton has ridden horses since he was a toddler.

But rumbling on a Florida cattle ranch isn’t the same as the trails he’ll traverse going forward — the rough terrain of immigrant and drug smuggling trails in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Monitor reports Barton is one of the latest members of the U.S. Border Horse Patrol, a specialty group of agents that work on horseback and have been doing so since the early 1920s.

The 38-year-old agent was one of seven agents who officially completed a six-week training course to join the group in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

Pages