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Court order sets date for primary election


Dates put on the calendar make the prospect of party primaries seem more concrete now. An order by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas in San Antonio, set May 29 as the date of the 2012 general primary election and July 31 for the primary runoff election.

Despite continuing questions and objections over redrawn state House and U.S. congressional districts, the order written by Judge Orlando Garcia and dated March 1 includes a list of primary-related deadline dates for federal, state, county, and local offices. In a long list of requirements in Garcia’s court order is the reopening of the filing period for candidates. Filing was set to begin March 2 and end at 6 p.m. on March 9.

Furthermore, the order waived the state law requiring that a runoff election be held no earlier than the 20th nor later than the 45th day after the final canvass of the main election for any municipal, school, or other political subdivision election held on May 12. It also suspended the requirements of any home-rule city charter relating to runoff election dates to allow for compliance with the order.

Coach puts face on Alzheimer’s

Darrell K. Royal, head coach of the University of Texas Longhorns football team from 1957-76, appeared in the state Senate Chamber on Feb. 28 to promote efforts to understand and deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Royal, 87, suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Royal’s wife Edith spoke to the Joint Interim Committee on Alzheimer’s Disease, an assembly of lawmakers tasked with studying the economic impact of the disease over the next five years and working toward mobilizing assets to combat it. Standing with the Royals were celebrated Texans Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey.

State Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey estimated 340,000 Texans suffer from the disease and the state’s minimally funded Alzheimer’s disease program was cut by 50 percent by the Legislature. While most of the estimated $65 million cost of Alzheimer’s treatment in Texas is covered by Medicare, Lakey said, many Alzheimer’s sufferers don’t receive needed services.

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Deputy Commissioner Jon Weizenbaum estimated there are 2.7 million Texans providing informal caregiver tasks for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

RRC elects new chairman

The Texas Railroad Commission on Feb. 28 elected current Commissioner Barry Smitherman chairman.

Smitherman, who joined the agency in July 2011, succeeds former Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones as chair. Ames Jones resigned from office last month to run for a state Senate seat.

“As Texas energy production is increasing at an unprecedented rate, the Railroad Commission must continue to maintain a fair and predictable regulatory climate in this state,” Smitherman said, and expressed eagerness to work with the state Legislature and the Sunset Advisory Commission in the 83rd regular session, scheduled to convene in January. The Railroad Commission will undergo Sunset review, a process that scrutinizes each state agency and recommends whether an agency should continue or be dissolved.

Most schools are accredited

State law gives the Texas education commissioner authority to impose sanctions against any school district or charter school that receives a lowered accreditation status.

This year, 97 percent of school districts and charter schools earned state accreditation based primarily on academic and financial performance.

In a March 1 Texas Education Agency new release, Education Commissioner Robert Scott said 1,185 out of 1,220 districts and charter schools met the requirements.

Accreditation status for each district and charter can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/accredstatus/.

Phony email targets citizens

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on March 1 warned citizens not to open attachments, click on links, or respond to fraudulent email that looks like it came from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

“Tax season is a particularly active time for identity thieves, because it provides an opportunity for criminals to create fraudulent emails and websites to trick taxpayers into divulging their sensitive financial information,” Abbott said.

“Taxpayers should remember that the IRS does not use email or text messages to contact taxpayers about issues related to their income tax returns,” Abbott added.

This year, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns is Tuesday, April 17. According to the IRS, the filing deadline was moved back because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

Ed Sterling is director of Member Services, Texas Press Association, 718 West Fifth St., Austin, TX 78701; 512)-477-6755; edsterling@texaspress.com.

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