BC-TX--Texas Enterprise Digest,1st Ld-Writethru, TX

News,Science and Technology

Here is the list of enterprise stories in Texas for the week of Dec. 31. If you have questions, please call News Editor James Beltran at 972-991-2100.

For technical assistance, call 800-527-8936. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (800-838-4616) or your local AP bureau.

Bureau fax numbers are: Dallas 800-991-1844; Austin 512-469-0800; and Houston 281-872-9988.

— ADDS Legislature-Incentive Programs

— ADDS Vietnam Vets-Memorial-Texas

— ADDS Legislature Convenes-Analysis



GATESVILLE, Texas — Jerry Hartfield was still a young man when an uncle visited him in prison nearly 30 years ago to tell him his murder conviction had been overturned and he would get a new trial. He was moved off Texas' death row not long afterward, but the retrial never happened even though Texas' highest criminal court refused to re-examine its ruling overturning Hartfield's conviction. Now 56, Hartfield is challenging the life sentence he has been serving since then-Gov. Mark White commuted his death sentence, A federal judge recently ruled that Hartfield deserves a new trial or to be set free. The state is appealing that decision. By Michael Graczyk.

AP Photos.

Eds: Moved Thursday.


AUSTIN, Texas — Shortfall and sacrifice: That's how the Texas Legislature two years ago defended gutting $5.4 billion from public education, laying off thousands of public workers with slashed spending and stripping Medicaid to the bone. The new budget s-word this time around? Surplus. But when lawmakers next week begin the 83rd legislative session with a potentially record amount of unspent revenue — more than $8 billion, according to many observers — that money won't last long or go far. Nor has Texas' far rosier economic picture put budget-writers in the mood to spend more or reverse historic cuts. The battle in 2013 will be over how much bigger — not smaller — the budget will get. By Paul J. Weber.

Eds: Moved Tuesday.


AUSTIN, Texas — There should be no shortage of school finance fights in the Texas Legislature this session, with key Republicans pushing for expanding school vouchers and Democrats clamoring to restore some of the $5.4 billion in cuts to public education passed in 2011. Efforts to ease the state's tough and getting-tougher academic accountability standards, meanwhile, may draw support from portions of both camps. But what likely won't come up after lawmakers descend on the state Capitol on Jan. 8 is the case unfolding in a courtroom three blocks away, where school districts responsible for educating three quarters of Texas' more than 5 million public-school students have sued. By Will Weissert.

Eds: Moved Monday.



AUSTIN, Texas — Bankruptcies and a criminal investigation marred Texas' signature programs that launch businesses with taxpayer funds in 2012. What remains to be seen is how much of an appetite lawmakers have to keep that money flowing into the Emerging Technology Fund and embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. By Paul J. Weber.

Eds: Moving Friday.


BASTROP, Texas — Forty years after President Richard Nixon announced the end of U.S. offensive operations against North Vietnam, a monument to the half-million Texans who served in Vietnam is taking shape. Groundbreaking for the Texas Vietnam Veterans Monument is set for early this year in Austin with installation on the state Capitol grounds by late this year. The 14-foot-tall bronze monument is now under construction at a Central Texas foundry. By Michael Graczyk.

AP Photos.

Eds: Moving Friday.


EL PASO, Texas — People in this West Texas city spent decades trying to close a massive copper plant they said spewed fumes that made their eyes teary, their lungs burn. Workers got sick and blamed the company. A hill near a college campus gradually turned black as the towering smokestacks churned out heavy emissions year after year. The people claimed victory when the ASARCO copper smelter finally shut down in 1999. More than a decade later, some who opposed the plant are now banding together in a long-shot effort to prevent the demolition of the plant's iconic smokestacks that have dominated the local skyline for nearly half a century. The chimneys, they say, are a mark of the city's industrial heritage and should be preserved as a monument to workers who fell ill due to toxic materials incinerated at the sprawling site. By Juan Carlos Llorca.

AP Photos.

Eds: Moving Saturday.


AUSTIN, Texas — A new cast of lawmakers will gather in Austin this week for the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, but they bring with them a familiar agenda that includes taxes, education, health care, abortion, guns and even groping. Republicans retain control of the House, the Senate and the governor's mansion, so they will set the agenda. Democrats, as in years past, will try persuasive arguments, fiery debates and parliamentary maneuvers to try and shape what bills end up on Gov. Rick Perry's desk. By Chris Tomlinson.

Eds: Moving Sunday.


For Sunday:


GALVESTON, Texas — Rising sea levels are likely to cover the coastal highway on the unprotected west end of Galveston sooner than previously predicted. A 2007 study underwritten by the city of Galveston that anticipated rising sea levels would cover the highway within 60 years appears to have been overly optimistic. The $50,000 geological hazard report was prepared for the city by geologists from the University of Texas, Rice University and Texas A&M University but then shelved. The report based its calculation on historic sea level rise and failed to include climate change. Sea levels are rising much faster than previous estimates that accounted for climate change, according to reports released in December by U.S. government scientists and in November by the World Bank. "It's higher than the estimates they gave us five years ago," said Jim Lester, president of the Houston Advanced Research Center, whose scientists are experienced in coastal issues. By Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle.


SAN ANTONIO — When Texas lawmakers convene in Austin next week to start their biennial task of crafting new legislation, they'll be asked to consider some bills that would directly impact the city of San Antonio. At the top of the list is a proposal that would allow HemisFair Park's master plan to be realized. The plan calls for overhauling the urban park into a sprawling mixed-use area that would be a beacon for all San Antonians. Here's the rub: In order to completely redevelop the park as it's been envisioned, the city needs to offer some of the designated park space as property available for private development. HemisFair Park won't lose any park acreage — in fact, it will likely gain green space. Still, state law calls for voters to decide whenever the government wants to use park land for something that isn't "a public purpose," said Carlos Contreras, an assistant city manager who oversees the city's legislative agendas. By Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News.

For Monday:


AUSTIN, Texas — Akins High School sophomore Marisol Castro Soto said she had fallen in with the wrong crowd. She and her friends would frequently skip school or show up to classes at their leisure. But when the 16-year-old was threatened with going before a judge because of her absences, Marisol knew it was time for a change. She volunteered for the Austin school district's new truancy program, which uses GPS trackers to help prompt students to go to class more often. Students who miss more than 10 days of school lose credit for their courses, officials said. At that point, students and parents may be summoned to court for truancy and may face misdemeanor charges and fines and be found criminally negligent. Unlike the controversial Radio Frequency Identification System, or RFID, tags the Northside school district made mandatory at two San Antonio area campuses, the Austin program requires student and parental written consent. By Melissa B. Taboada, Austin American-Statesman.


DALLAS — The Museum of the American Railroad's move from Fair Park to Frisco has been a lesson in patience these past 14 months. Logistics and paperwork played havoc with hopes of opening at its new home in 2012. But that's OK, say organizers, who point to the successful move so far of about half of the museum's collection of historic and one-of-a-kind rail cars. The rest will move in the coming months. And it's thanks in large part to the many volunteers who put in countless hours not only to help with the move but also to continue some of its educational programs despite the museum being closed since November 2011. By Valerie Wigglesworth, The Dallas Morning News.

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