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Texas joins other states in federal challenge


AUSTIN Attorney General Greg Abbott on Feb. 13 announced Texas had joined 10 other states in a legal challenge to a federal law, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

The preamble to the 848-page law states its purpose: “To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ’too big to fail,’ to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.”

Abbott, however, said the law “is bad for banks, harmful to businesses and worse for consumers who want to borrow money. It gives too much power to the federal government and puts taxpayer dollars at risk. Under this law, unelected federal bureaucrats can unilaterally liquidate financial institutions in which the state invests taxpayer dollars. The State of Texas could be denied basic due process rights and taxpayers’ dollars could recklessly be put at risk,” Abbott said.

Over the last few months, The Associated Press and other national media entities have noted that Abbott, on behalf of the state, has sued the Obama administration more than two dozen times since January 2009. Complaints in the many federal lawsuits to which Texas has been party vary widely, including such topics as health care reform, offshore drilling, voter identification, redistricting, air-quality regulations and school prayer.

Survey spells out needs

Members of the 83rd Texas Legislature, in crafting a state budget for fiscal years 2014-2015, will know what’s on the minds of people with disabilities.

On Feb. 13, the governor’s office posted funding priorities as expressed in a survey of 1,131 citizens who responded to a survey conducted in the third quarter of 2012 by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

Respondents ranked issues and gave open-ended input on any issue important to them. Some of the highest-ranking issues expressed in the survey include:

Access to efficient and quality healthcare (expressed by 90.1 percent of respondents), Access to affordable healthcare (89.9 percent), Ensure that emergency notification and warnings are provided in multiple formats, including formats that are accessible to people who are blind, deaf, hard-of-hearing, or use American Sign Language (85.7 percent), Increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities (85.6 percent), Accessible evacuation transportation (84.9 percent), Adequate, efficient Special Education programs, services and procedures (84.7 percent).

Also: Emergency planning processes that include people with disabilities (84.2 percent), Ensure appropriate (educational) accommodations are available during testing (83.2 percent), Education of employers about disability rights law related to employment (82.3 percent), Accessible post-disaster housing (82.2 percent), Integrate people with disabilities in the planning process for emergencies at the State and local level (82.0 percent), More resources and support for family caregivers, including respite services (80.0 percent) and strengthening existing anti-bullying laws in schools related to students with disabilities (79.1 percent).

DNA database is credited

Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Feb. 14 recognized the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database for achievements.

The CODIS section of the DPS Crime Laboratory Service received a unit citation for recent accomplishments. Notably, in November, CODIS registered the 10,000th cold hit, ranking fourth among the states in the number of hits, the DPS reported, and explained that “cold hits” are unexpected matches between DNA of known criminal offenders with biological evidence from crime scenes.

Since 1998, the DPS CODIS Lab has helped solve more than 640 homicides, 3,300 sexual assaults, 4,200 burglaries, 550 robberies and hundreds of other crimes in Texas and other states, McCraw said.

Veteran given state burial

Highly decorated former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, author of the book “American Sniper,” was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on Feb. 12.

Kyle, 38, and fellow veteran Chad Littlefield, 35, died of gunshot wounds suffered at a shooting range in north Texas on Feb. 2. A suspect is in custody.

Thousands of citizens turned out to pay their respects along the 200-mile route of the funeral procession that began in Kyle’s home city of Midlothian and ended at the state cemetery.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or edsterling@texaspress.com.

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