texas

Augustas Didžgalvis / CC

AUSTIN — The Texas Legislature has approved fines for governmental entities that post signs prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns in areas where licensed Texans are allowed to carry them.

Authored by Tea Party-backed Republican Sen. Donna Campbell, the plan passed both chambers with little debate, despite opposition from some municipal groups.

Saturday’s House approval 116-23 sends it to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

Local governments and other official entities would be fined if they post signs that might intimidate license-holders who are within their rights to carry weapons.

Courtesy: SalFalko / Flickr (Creative Commons)

AUSTIN — Texas is on the verge of scrapping its controversial “pick-a-pal” grand jury system, after the House gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul.

The state is currently the only one in America where judge-appointed commissioners nominate prospective jurors, rather than picking randomly selected residents.

The U.S. Supreme Court has criticized the system. But some small-county Texas judges oppose changing it, worried that jury pools may shrink too much.

Without debate Sunday, the House voted 79-59 to approve a bill changing the system, sponsored by Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

In stark contrast to former Gov. Rick Perry, the current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the state would comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

In a letter to Lynch earlier this month, Abbott stated that Texas would “fully implement” the standards as much as possible. In the letter of May 15, Abbott wrote: “The State of Texas has taken significant steps to eliminate prison rape. I cannot yet certify that the State is in full compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) because our PREA audits are still ongoing. But every facility that has completed the PREA audit process has been certified as fully compliant. And I can assure you that we will fully implement DOJ’s PREA standards wherever feasible.”

The PREA requires segregating younger inmates from those who are over 18. Perry refused to comply, basically because 17-year-old criminal offenders in Texas are classified as adults. Federal law requires 17-year-olds to be housed separately from those 18 or older.

Source: United States Census Bureau

Texas continues to attract new residents from across the country and elsewhere. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau supports projections that the state’s population will double by the year 2050.

The study reflects population growth between the years 2010 and 2014. Over that time, the population of Texas grew by 1.8 million people or by 7 percent. Suburban growth outpaced that of major metropolitan areas.

In fact, the in-fill between Austin and San Antonio is an area that some are calling the “new DFW” — with consistent year-over-year growth in corridor towns like New Braunfels and San Marcos, which was ranked nationally as the fastest-growing city in the nation for the third year in a row.

Source: NAMI

AUSTIN — The Texas House has preliminarily approved a proposal offering to help repay student loans for psychiatrists who provide care in underserved parts of the state.

Passed Thursday 89-52, the bill provides help repaying student loans for medical personnel who work in “designated mental health professional shortage areas.”

Those qualifying would also have to treat Medicaid patients, low-income children or people confined to some state-run correctional facilities. The Senate passed the bill last month. It now needs only a final House vote to be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

According to a recent state report, fewer than 2,000 licensed psychiatrists were offering direct care in Texas as of September 2013.

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