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March 12, 2009
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Voter ID Bill Passes Senate Committee
from The Dallas Morning News
A sharply divided Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that would require Texans to show a photo ID before voting, but the measure faces longer odds in the House and an expected court challenge if it becomes law. Wrapping up a 23-hour marathon hearing that lasted all night, the Senate voted along party lines to advance the voter ID bill as all 19 Republicans and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst voted yes and all 12 Democrats opposed the measure. More


Index: Construction Costs Continue to Drop
from The Houston Business Journal
Commercial building construction costs decreased 5.77 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Turner Construction Co. Since the first quarter of 2008, construction costs have dropped 2.59 percent, according to the index. More

State Water Plan Called Critical
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
With North Texas’ population expected to double by 2060, officials must come up with and find a way to pay for enough water to quench the region’s thirst. Two years after legislators approved the state water plan, the Legislature is trying to determine how to cover the $30 billion price tag for all of Texas’ proposed projects. More

Obama: No Troops to U.S./Mexico Border
from The Dallas Morning News
Mexico’s drug war and the risks of cross-border violence deserve top-level attention, President Barack Obama said in an interview today, but it isn’t time to send U.S. troops. “We’ve got a very big border with Mexico,” the president said. “I’m not interested in militarizing the border.” More

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Oil Lurks Near $46 a Barrel After Demand Report Slows Rally
from The Associated Press via The Lubbock Avalanche Journal
Oil prices crept toward $46 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after the U.S. Energy Department cut its 2009 crude demand forecast, stalling a two-week rally. Benchmark crude for April delivery rose 2 cents to $45.73 a barrel by midday in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices fell $1.36 on Tuesday to settle at $45.71. More

Voters Would Get Final Sale On Commuter Rail Under Alternative Bill
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Two House members from North Texas introduced legislation Wednesday that would enable voters in the region’s cities to approve an increase in local sales taxes to finance the construction of commuter rail lines. The bill by Reps. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth and Robert Miklos, D-Mesquite, is an alternative to a major transportation bill backed by leaders of Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington and many of the suburbs. More

Congress Holds More Hearings on Border Violence
from The Associated Press via The El Paso Times
Congressional subcommittees are looking into U.S. policies dealing with violence on the U.S.-Mexico border. One House panel is holding a hearing Thursday on what the Homeland Security Department can do to secure the Southwest border and prevent Mexican drug cartel violence from spilling over into the United States. More

Groundwater Districts Wellsprings of Controversy in Rural Counties
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
For Parker County resident Kathy Chruscielski, moving to the country a decade ago seemed like the best of both worlds. She fell in love with the scenic rolling hills of Remuda Ranch Estates, a few miles west of the Tarrant County line. She learned that it has its downside. In January 2002, Chruscielski was forced to drill a new well after her old one went dry. More

New Jobless Claims Rise More Than Expected
from The Associated Press via The Dallas Morning News
The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose last week, while the total number of people continuing to receive benefits set a record high, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department reported that first-time requests for unemployment insurance increased to 654,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 645,000, above analysts' expectations. More

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