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Texas News Scrawl | Brenda Sapino Jeffreys,Adam D. Young,Cindy Ramirez,Eileen O'Grady,Ross Ramsey,Kate Galbraith,Matthew Huisman,Laylan Copelin,Cindy Ramirez,Chris Moran,Roger Mares,Ronnie Crocker,Bruce Tomaso,Bobby Blanchard,David Barron,Iulia Filip,David Pitman,Elisabeth Malkin,Bob Cox,Scott Nishimura,Maria Recio,Angela Morris,Vic Kolenc,Isabel Ordóñez,David Hendricks,

Photo by Karnegie Musa. Copyright 2011.

Stories from other sources that Texas Business recommends:  

Firms at War Over $10 Million Contingent Fee in Patent Suit by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys of Texas Lawyer.  The Matthews Firm has sued Laminack, Pirtle & Martines and two clients they jointly represented, alleging Laminack, Pirtle and the clients refused to recognize The Matthews Firm's interest in a contingent fee arising from a nearly $50 million judgment. The plaintiff, a Houston firm that handles intellectual property work, brings breach of contract and quantum meruit causes of action against the defendants and seeks a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to a 22.5 percent fee in the underlying case.

Lubbock pet store set to leave mall after 40 years; owner blames animal rights intervention by Adam D. Young of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Bonnett Pet Center’s 40-year run in the South Plains Mall could end in less than three weeks after the mall’s corporate owner terminated the store’s lease in what Bonnett’s owner called a corporate move to please animal rights activists. Owner David Bonnett said his store is one of 70 mall pet stores across the country being forced out, their leases not being renewed by Macerich Co., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based real estate investment trust that owns South Plains Mall and nearly 100 shopping centers

Title fight fallout: El Paso's reputation sullied after boxing snub by Cindy Ramirez of the El Paso Times. Whoever said there's no such thing as bad publicity hadn't come across a mob of passionate El Pasoans upset over the misrepresentation of their city -- some who are now worried about the long-term effects of last week's cancellation of a boxing match in Sun Bowl Stadium. "These false claims about the safety of our city must stop," Mayor John Cook said, adding that characterizing El Paso as unsafe is giving the city a black eye.

Calpine to add 550 MW in Texas as reserve shrinks by Eileen O'Grady of Reuters.  HOUSTON— Calpine Corp, the largest U.S. independent power generator, will add more than 500 megawatts in Texas by the summer of 2014 to help the power-hungry state avoid rolling outages, officials said on Friday. Houston-based Calpine, which operates 7,200 MW in Texas, said recent action by state regulators and the grid operator to improve wholesale price signals when supplies run short led Calpine to decide to add new natural gas-fired turbines at two existing Houston-area power plants.

Amazon, State Settle Sales Tax Fight by Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune. Amazon.com will start collecting sales taxes from Texas customers this summer and agreed to make capital investments of $200 million and create 2,500 jobs in the state over the next four years, Comptroller Susan Combs announced.. In return, the state will drop its efforts to collect back sales taxes from the company.

Texas Army Bases Go Green, but Challenges Remain by  Kate Galbraith of Texas Tribune.  EL PASO — Outside a building that provides medical care for wounded soldiers at Fort Bliss, two long, dark lines of hundreds of solar panels stand on supports over the parking lot, moving to follow the sun. “Everybody wants to park under the solar panels,” said B.J. Tomlinson, the renewable energy and sustainable engineering program manager at Fort Bliss.

Latham & Watkins to Represent UT in Racial Preference Case by Matthew Huisman of the National Law Journal. The University of Texas at Austin will shell out close to $1 million for a team of Washington, D.C., lawyers to defend its admission standards that use race as a factor in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Latham & Watkins partners Gregory Garre and J. Scott Ballenger and of counsel Maureen Mahoney have been hired to represent the university for $987,000, according to an outside counsel contract.

Experts: State universities can do better at turning research into revenue by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. University of Texas professor James McGinity has defied the odds as an academic entrepreneur. In 1996, he and a colleague, Bill Williams, went in hock for $1 million to start a company, PharmaForm LLC, in a small building off Yager Lane.  

El Paso officials denounce Chavez-Lee fight cancellation, damage to city's reputation by Cindy Ramirez of the El Paso Times. It's the fight that's uniting the city. El Paso's top local, state and federal elected officials, together with representatives from various law enforcement agencies, on Wednesday joined forces to demand that the University of Texas System rescind its cancellation of the Julio César Chávez Jr. fight and help control the damage it's done to the city's reputation.

Hobby lobby: Dueling airlines' political operations take off by Chris Moran of the Houston Chronicle.  In pressing its message that international flights out of Hobby Airport will harm the local economy, United Airlines is drawing on a vast reservoir of good will built up by Continental Airlines, Houston's hometown airline until it was swallowed up by United in a merger. Continental filled that reservoir with decades of good corporate citizenship, operatives with deep ties to City Hall and tens of thousands of dollars in donations to politicians' campaigns.

Dog Food Manufacturing Plant, Jobs Coming To Brownwood by Roger Mares of KTXS News. BROWNWOOD, Texas -- A pet food company announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in Brownwood. Canidae Natural Pet Food Company will open a facility called "Ethos Pet Nutrition."

Igloo sees boost from innovation by Ronnie Crocker of the San Antonio Express-News. HOUSTON — Igloo is giving the humble ice chest a corporate makeover. After being purchased by a private equity firm 31/2 years ago, Katy-headquartered Igloo Products Corp. has invested $18 million in its local plant, raised salaries and hired new full-time staff. 

Larry McMurtry is planning a Texas-sized book auction by Bruce Tomaso of the Dallas Morning News. Texas novelist, screenwriter, and book merchant nonpariel Larry McMurtry has announced an August auction of books from his sprawling bookstore in Archer City, northwest of Fort Worth. The huge sale won't mean the end of Booked Up, the antiquarian bookstore that now spills through four buildings in downtown Archer City.

Texas running low on college educated workers by Bobby Blanchard of the Daily Texan. If Texas wants to produce enough college certified workers to fill the job market, the state will have to rethink its plan regarding higher education. According to a study co-authored by Joni Finney, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Research in Higher Education, 56 percent of jobs in Texas will require postsecondary training by 2018.

Former players file concussion law suit against NFL by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. Thirty-one former NFL players, including Pro Football Hall of Fame members Bob Lilly, Randy White and Rayfield Wright and several other former Dallas Cowboys and Southwest Conference players, filed suit against the NFL on Tuesday in Houston, accusing the league of concealing the links between concussions and permanent brain injury. Former players named in the lawsuit suffer from issues ranging from short-term memory loss to dementia that requires constant medical care, said Matthew Matheny with the Beaumont law firm of Provost Umphrey, which filed the 38-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston.

Cloned Quarter Horse Breeder Claims Registry Has a Monopoly by Iulia Filip of Courthouse News Service. AMARILLO—The American Quarter Horse Association is monopolizing and raising the price of horses by refusing to register cloned horses and their offspring, a horse breeder claims in a federal antitrust complaint. Jason Abraham and his companies Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture and Abraham Equine Inc. claim the American Quarter Horse Association violates the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Texas Business and Commerce Code.

Fewer Houstonians Striving To Own 'That House In The Suburbs' by David Pitman of KUHF. The idea of having a house in the suburbs is rapidly losing its luster among folks in Houston. This year's Houston Area Survey finds a significant increase in the number of people who are sick and tired of burning up their precious money and time on the road.

In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly by Elisabeth Malkin of the New York Times. COATZINTLA, Mexico — For seven decades, Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil monopoly and a mainstay of the government’s revenue, regulated itself — which is a polite way of saying it could do pretty much as it pleased. No authority challenged the wisdom of investments like the billions it has spent here in the Chicontepec oil field to extract just a trickle of petroleum even as private companies have pulled torrents from similar shale rock in Texas and North Dakota.

Lockheed union workers launch strike in west Fort Worth by Scott Nishimura and Bob Cox of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. FORT WORTH _ Striking Lockheed Martin assembly workers formed picket lines outside the gates of the west Fort Worth fighter plant starting just after midnight today, and supporters this morning honked their horns three times to mimic the union’s “Ain't No Way” slogan. Members of the Machinists union, which represents about 3,600 workers at the plant, voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to reject the company's final contract offer and walk off their jobs.  

American makes it case in court, and workers protest by Maria Recio for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. NEW YORK -- More than 300 American Airlines workers rallied in protest in front of the U.S. bankruptcy court where their company asked a judge to wipe out their contracts, even as many embraced a possible bid by US Airways to take over the Fort Worth-based carrier. "We bailed them out, AA sells us out," said a sign carried by Frank Ricci, a Transport Workers Union member from New York's JFK airport. "I think this is an attack on the middle class," said Ricci.

Forms Fracas Inches Toward Summer Finale by Angela Morris of Texas Lawyer. Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee chairman Chip Babcock says he thinks the consensus on the committee is that standardized pro se divorce forms are a good idea but some tweaks could make them better. At an April 13-14 SCAC meeting, which was open to the public, the SCAC reviewed and suggested changes to the Texas Supreme Court's Uniform Forms Task Force's controversial draft forms for uncontested divorces with no children and no real property.

El Paso entrepreneur, son developing regional banking venture by Vic Kolenc of the El Paso Times. Well-known El Paso entrepreneur Bill Sanders and his son, Pablo, are using the purchases of banks in El Paso and Las Cruces as a launching pad to develop a regional banking company focused on the Southwest. The Sanders duo and other executives of Strategic Growth Bank Inc. said federal banking regulations bar them from divulging much about their future plans while the plans are still being evaluated by regulators.

Crude to Give Oil Firms a Lift by Isabel Ordóñez of the Wall Street Journal. Once again, soaring crude is lifting the oil industry's boats—and will likely buoy the earnings of Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips. But Texas behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp., which has bet heavily on North American natural-gas production in recent years, is expected to see its profit drop a bit because prices for the commodity have hit decade-low levels.

Look up for a new way to move freight by David Hendricks of the Houston Chronicle. Imagine driving along Interstate 35 with almost no long-haul truck traffic, at least not on road level. But look up and there would be the trucks - at least the containers and trailers - whizzing along just above the passenger cars on elevated, electric-powered conveyor lanes, at 60 mph with no drivers.

Firms at War Over $10 Million Contingent Fee in Patent Suit by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys of Texas Lawyer. The Matthews Firm has sued Laminack, Pirtle & Martines and two clients they jointly represented, alleging Laminack, Pirtle and the clients refused to recognize The Matthews Firm's interest in a contingent fee arising from a nearly $50 million judgment. The plaintiff, a Houston firm that handles intellectual property work, brings breach of contract and quantum meruit causes of action against the defendants and seeks a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to a 22.5 percent fee in the underlying case.

Tim League wants film buffs to remember Alamo Drafthouse Cinema by Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times. The gig: Tim League, 42, is chief executive and co-founder of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. The quirky 10-theater chain has developed a cult following with its special events, themed movie nights and in-seat food and drink service.

Plaintiffs Seek New Trial in Croquettes Case Against Luby's by Miriam Rozen of Texas Lawyer. Is a $12,600 final judgment enough to compensate plaintiffs for a meal that allegedly led to a cardiac arrest? Luby's thinks it is.

Tough times for out-of-town Astros fans by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. While we wax nostalgic about the late Dick Clark (I remember watching "American Bandstand" when it was a weekday show in the late 1950s), let us also recall the days when the Astros and Rockets were TV forces with which to be reckoned - when the Astros drew Nielsen ratings of 7s and 8s for Randy Johnson's starts in 1998 and when the Rockets averaged 6.3 for games on Fox Sports Southwest in 1997. Those days, for the moment, are toast.

El Paso Electric rates to dip $15M annually in Texas by Cindy Ramirez of the El Paso Times. El Paso Electric Co.'s rate case settlement unanimously accepted by the El Paso City Council on Tuesday will lower electric bills by $15 million annually in Texas, providing businesses the most savings. "We identified a wrong and we were on the side of right -- and we prevailed," said city Rep. Cortney Niland, who led the fight against the power company.  

Amid Din of Pipeline Debate, a Quieter Fight Over Property Rights by Terrence Henry of the Texas Tribune. The Keystone XL pipeline will go through 17 counties in Texas, crossing the property of 850 landowners. And not all of them are happy about it. 

KPFT returns to air after two-day outage by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. KPFT (90.1 FM), the non-commercial radio station owned by the Pacifica Foundation, returned to the air Wednesday afternoon after an outage of more than two days that the station's manager said was related to storm damage at the transmitter site in northwest Harris County. Station manager Duane Bradley said the station was knocked off the air Monday morning but continued to broadcast through its website, KPFT.org, and through "repeater" towers at 89.5 FM in Galveston, 89.7 FM in Huntsville and 90.3 FM in Goodrich.

Texas men say IHOP fired them because they are Muslim by Teresa Woodard of WFAA. Four employees of the IHOP restaurant chain with a combined 45 years experience claim they were fired in 2010 because of their national origin and their religious beliefs. The men are Arab and Muslim, and they allege that that was the basis for their termination.

Texas forward electricity prices on the upswing by Eileen O'Grady of Reuters. HOUSTON—Forward power prices in Texas have moved up in response to efforts by state regulators to boost the wholesale market cap in its competitive electric market, industry sources said this week. The Public Utility Commission of Texas proposed increasing the cap on wholesale price to $4,500 per megawatt-hour beginning in August, up from the current $3,000 price cap.

Bizarre Accident at Rotating Restaurant by Cameron Langford of Courthouse News.   HOUSTON—A rotating rooftop Hyatt hotel restaurant trapped and lacerated a 4-year-old girl's foot between the floor and wall, and her parents managed to pull her free just before her foot was crushed by a pole, the parents claim in court. Dehong Shen and Min Zhang sued Hyatt Corp. and VII/SCH Houston Hotel in Harris County Court, on behalf of their daughter Erin.

Texas’s Five Most Delicious Invasive Species by Sonia Smith of the Texas Monthly Daily Post. Keep your invasive species sweet; you may have to eat them. Late last week StateImpact Texas put together a list of the “Top Ten Invasive Species in Texas.”

Rockwall City Council names Rick Crowley new City Manager by the Rockwall News. ROCKWALL – The Rockwall City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to appoint Interim City Manager Rick Crowley to the permanent position of City Manager for the City of Rockwall. The decision was made conditioned on the basis that both parties agree to the terms of a contract which has not yet been finalized by either the City or Crowley.

As many as 7 new day care centers planned for Central Texas by Gary Dinges of the Austin American-Statesman.  A Texas-based company is moving ahead with plans to build as many as seven child care centers in Central Texas. The first two Austin-area Childrens Lighthouse locations could open in as soon as a year, the company said, with the remainder coming online in the next three to five years.

Oops! T-shirt botches SEC locales by Sports Illustrated. COLLEGE STATION--Which way to the Southeastern Conference? A Texas-based apparel company, Aggieland Outfitters, recalled a handful of T-shirts on Tuesday after they were ridiculed online for having some geographic mistakes.

Test flight set for SpaceX mission to space station by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle. NASA and the private company SpaceX set a tentative launch date of April 30 for the first commercial launch to the International Space Station. The test flight, which will carry 1,000 pounds of food and scientific experiments, marks a significant step toward NASA's goal of using private companies to transport supplies to the station.

City aviation director envisions spaceport at Ellington by Chris Moran of the Houston Chronicle. As Houston's elected leaders consider whether to allow flights from Hobby Airport to Cancún, local aviation officials are studying the possibility of a much more exotic destination for flights out of Ellington Airport: space. Technically, it is feasible, Airport System Director Mario Diaz has concluded.

Mercado to replace Downtown El Paso flea market in latest bid to improve area by Vic Kolenc of the El Paso Times. A 30-store shopping center designed to reflect a Mexican mercado is being built on a Downtown lot where a flea market operated for years. Construction is to begin soon on Mercado del Paisano at the southeast corner of Paisano and Oregon.

Program could show risks, rewards of using taxpayer money to spur economic growth by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. Austin-based Adao Global is a watch designer and marketer with a hot product the runner's watch Soleus but without enough money to expand its inventory quickly.  "We are selling them as fast as I can get them," said David Arnold, the company's founder.

State Bar Employee Under Investigation for Alleged Misappropriation of Funds by Mary Alice Robbins of Texas Lawyer. A State Bar of Texas employee is under investigation for the alleged misappropriation of funds from a Texas Supreme Court account primarily used to reimburse lawyers who overpaid annual fees. State Bar president Bob Black, managing partner of MehaffyWeber in Beaumont, identifies the person under investigation as Kathy Holder, the Bar's membership director.  

IBM release aims to clear up cloud computing systems by Kirk Ladendorf of the Austin American-Statesman.  IBM Corp. on Wednesday unveiled a new push toward simplified business computing that it calls PureSystems. The program, which is the result of $2 billion in IBM research over four years, created "expert-integrated systems" that combine servers, storage, networking and pretested software applications in a single cabinet.

 Texas Lawmakers Want to Include Mexico in Trade Pact by Julián Aguilar of the Texas Tribune. Despite trade between Mexico and the United States surpassing $460 billion in 2011 — a 17 percent increase from 2010 — America’s southern neighbor wasn’t initially considered as a partner in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-country affiliation meant to increase trade and reduce tariffs between member countries.

Texas Corn Planting Leads Nation by UPI. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday corn planting is ahead of the historic average, with weather permitting an early start to field work. The long-term average for corn planting for this week of the year is 2 percent -- farmers just beginning to scratch at the planting season.  

Economy to drive summer cattle prices by Mike McGinnis for Agriculture.com. Despite U.S. tight supplies, weaker economics could trump regular summer cattle market factors in 2012, putting pressure on the industry’s seasonal price bounce. Beginning in May-June, the industry sees the start of the market’s bottom form.

SpaceX looks into Texas as locale for future launch pad by Alan Boyle for MSNBC. SpaceX is looking closely at south Texas as the locale for its third launch pad, following Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, the California-based company says it hasn't ruled out other options elsewhere.

State Bar of Texas Employee Under Investigation for Alleged Misappropriation of Funds by Mary Alice Robbins of Texas Lawyer. A State Bar of Texas employee is under investigation for the alleged misappropriation of funds from a Texas Supreme Court account primarily used to reimburse lawyers who overpaid annual fees. State Bar president Bob Black, managing partner of MehaffyWeber in Beaumont, identifies the person under investigation as Kathy Holder, the Bar's membership director.

Economy, other states' incentives hurt El Paso in drawing big budget productions by Vic Kolenc of the El Paso Times. Chad Gundersen figures his company will leave at least $500,000 in El Paso from the filming of a movie here in the last several weeks. Gundersen, 35, a movie producer from Dallas, where he operates Gundersen Entertainment, came to El Paso because the area has locations that look like Mexico, he said

Texas vs. California in the Economy Bowl by Alex Washburn of the San Francisco Bay Citizen. Bay Area residents may have to drink another cup of free trade, organic, soy, low-fat, individual drip, micro-lot coffee (don’t forget the rosetta) as a consolation prize when they hear how much better Texas is doing economically. The cities of Dallas, Houston and Austin are rebounding strongly from the great recession while the Bay Area is still struggling.

The reason it's called Texas Tea: Most oil-rich states by Charles B. Stockdale for MSNBC.  As gas prices reach record highs across many parts of the country, Americans have been blaming oil companies. But as much as they are disliked, the oil and gas industry is also an indispensable part of many states and an asset to their local economies.

On trail of Old West: National designation sought for Butterfield Trail by Loretta Fulton of the Abilene Reporter-News. The Old West never seems to get old. The lure of cowboys, Indians, cattle drives, forts and stagecoach lines is as magnetic today as it was when the West was new.

New show features Texas country artists by Simon Gutierrez of KSAT.  SAN ANTONIO—A new show that offers Texas musicians a state-wide audience now airs in 16 television markets, including San Antonio. The program, which is called "Texas Music Scene," airs Saturday nights after the Nightbeat.

J.C. Penney cuts 600 headquarters jobs by UPI. PLANO—J.C. Penney Co.'s chief executive officer said it is time for the U.S. retailer to seek a fresh outlook, as the company cut 14 percent of its office staff. As it puts itself through a broad restructuring, the company is aiming to "operate like a start-up," CEO Ron Johnson said in a statement. 

Baked Goods, HIPAA at Issue in Termination Suit by Angela Morris of Texas Lawyer. An Austin lawyer has sued her former employer, alleging she was "terminated" for trying to implement policies to ensure compliance with laws on distributing home-baked goods and on health-care privacy and confidentiality. Erin M. Gilmer says she was the director of clinic and hospital programs, a non-attorney position, at Austin-based Cancer Connection, and she loved working there.

Five Confirmed Trader Joe’s in Texas by Sonia Smith of Texas Monthly. Two Buck Chuck for Texas! This week Trader Joe’s confirmed it has signed a lease on a building in San Antonio, the specialty grocery store chain’s fifth location in the Lone Star State.

Pentagon may cut 1st Cavalry battalion by Colleen Flaherty of the Killeen Daily Herald. FORT HOOD — One of the 1st Cavalry Division's brigade support battalions could be dismantled. Although senior division officials deny that any final decisions have been made on restructuring to Fort Hood's force, the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, is sponsoring what is being billed as a "farewell ball" later in the week.

Texas oil production rises, powering economic uptick by Alex Mills of the Wichita Falls Times Record News.  Many old-timers in the oil business still find it hard to believe that crude oil production in Texas and across the nation continues to rise. Just about everyone believed that the production declines that began in the 1970s would continue for a long, long time.  

 Company finds niche in fracking materials, equipment by Nicole Stempak of the Vindicator. To Pam Percival, the gas-and-oil-well industry is far more than men out in a field with some machinery and a teeter-totter piece of metal that pivots up and down. Percival works in corporate communications for Texas-based FTS International, and that’s where the company found its niche over the past 10 years.

Ohio can learn from Texas’ experience with fracking industry by Doug Livingston of the Akron Beacon Journal. FORT WORTH, TEXAS: At the Forth Worth Chamber of Commerce, two businessmen are deep into a conversation about a national oil and gas company that just moved in across the hallway from the chamber’s downtown office. Yet one more company specializing in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” technology, has leased space across from the office of Mike Berry, the chamber’s natural gas task force chairman.

Texas securities chief looks to keep focus on enforcement, education by Barry Harrell of the Austin American-Statesman.  When he retired in February 2011 after more than 27 years with the Texas State Securities Board, John Morgan might have thought his days of helping regulate the state's securities industry were over. But it turned out, Morgan was only taking a short break. 

As Texas worries about power generation, is answer underground? by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. As a power-hungry Texas looks for more electricity generation, Chamisa Energy thinks a solution is underground: compressed air stored in man-made salt caverns in the Panhandle. The Santa Fe, N.M.-based company has a 514-acre site near Tulia, a small town 50 miles south of Amarillo, that company officials believe is the right mix of geography, geology and timing.

Former Texas bank executives accused of fraud for trying to hide how bad lender was faring during financial crisis by the New York Post. HOUSTON -- Two former executives at Franklin Bank Corp. have been accused of fraud for allegedly trying to hide from investors how poorly the Texas lender was faring during the worst of the financial crisis. In a complaint filed last week in US District Court in Texas, the SEC accused Anthony J. Nocella, Franklin's former chief executive, and J. Russell McCann, the bank's former chief financial officer, of inflating Franklin's reported earnings and attempting to conceal its loan quality in the latter half of 2007.

As Large Companies Opt Out, Concerns Grow for Workers’ Compensation System by Becca Aaronson of the Texas Tribune. When Walmart, one of Texas’ largest private employers, dropped out of the state’s workers’ compensation system in March, it was a heavy blow to advocates of the system, who have watched more large companies offer private — and in many cases, less generous — injury benefits. Texas is the only state in the country that allows employers of any size to decline to carry state-regulated workers’ compensation coverage. Businesses administer their own injury benefit programs, reaping big cost savings in exchange for exposing themselves to heightened liability risks.

Water worries cause waves by Laura B. Martinez of The Brownsville Herald. Two days after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Agriculture Department sent a letter to the International Boundary and Water Commission challenging its decision to deliver water to Mexico, the IBWC has responded. The IBWC said it is abiding by the 1906 Convention between the United States and Mexico, which requires the U.S. to share water from the Rio Grande with Mexico for irrigation purposes.

Texas Hospital Won’t Hire Obese Applicants by CBS Houston.  VICTORIA---Citizens Medical Center has instituted a policy which requires that all employees have a body mass index of less than 35.

New Texas secession drama: Scenario where Texas becomes its own country creates controversy by Tyler Rudick of CultureMap Houston. Here's the set-up proposed by Austin-based journalist John Burnett for a lighthearted not-quite-April Fools' Day radio piece on National Public Radio's All Things Considered: It's 2012 and Texas has seceded from the United States. 

Photo Essay: The Texas Hill Country by Keith Hajovsky in Travel Sherpa Keith. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Texas, it’s not the old school, Hollywood-inspired perception of solely a bunch of flat land with tumbleweeds rolling around in the wind. Texas is a massive state, over 25% larger than France, and this enormous size makes room for several different ecosystems, one of them being the Hill Country in the central part of the state.  

Nebraska farmers buy Texas shrimp farm by Lori Potter of the Kearney Hub. KEARNEY — KAAPA members have planted, harvested, marketed and processed billions of bushels of corn and other Nebraska crops in the past 17 years. However, they’ve never had a crop like the one that will be “seeded” this month and harvested in October on their recently acquired Texas Gulf Coast shrimp farm.

Oil pipelines to Gulf could end logjam by Zain Shauk of the Houston Chronicle. Although the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada has dominated political debate about how to tame gasoline prices, another missing link is more to blame for keeping crude off the worldwide market - boosting the price for a barrel of oil and a gallon of gas. A dearth of pipeline capacity between the pipeline hub in Cushing, Okla., and the Gulf Coast has created an oversupply in the middle of the country, where oil produced during a renaissance of domestic production is backed up with nowhere to go - even as worldwide crude prices have soared amid a tight market.

Stewart Rogers: The TT Interview by Kate Galbraith of the Texas Tribune. Stewart Rogers manages a mid-size farm west of Lubbock that has been in his family for five generations. He rents out the land to farmers who grow mostly cotton.

What The Dallas Tornadoes Mean For Insurance Premiums by KUHF. Those storms that ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday are going to cost insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars in claims. But one expert says that shouldn't mean higher premiums.

Hobby expansion adds 10,000 jobs, Southwest says by Chris Moran of the Houston Chronicle. Opening Hobby Airport to commercial international flights will create 10,000 jobs, bring 1.6 million more air travelers through Houston annually and inject an additional $1.6 billion a year into the local economy, according to a Southwest Airlines executive who has seen city-commissioned studies on the matter.  "We're asking for an opportunity to invest $100 million in a new building in your city to provide more passengers, 1.6 million a year, a huge economic gain for the city," Ron Ricks, executive vice president and chief legal and regulatory officer for Southwest Airlines said.

Judge Fines Dallas Debt Company $2 Million by KERA.  A Vermont judge has ordered a Texas debt settlement company to pay a fine of $2 million in a consumer fraud case. Credit Solutions of America also must pay full refunds to 207 Vermonters totaling about $350,000.

Dell buys California-based tech company by Kirk Ladendorf of the Austin American-Statesman.  Dell Inc. has agreed to buy California's Wyse Technology, a leading maker of desktop virtualization technology aimed at corporate customers. No price was announced for the deal, which is expected to be completed before the end of July.

Victoria County may restrict sexually oriented businesses by Melissa Crowe of the Victoria Advocate.  Victoria County Commissioners plan to proceed with an ordinance to regulate sexually oriented businesses. Jim Allison, general counsel for The County Judges' and Commissioners' Association of Texas, presented two potential ordinances to commissioners.

Carnival Cruise Ship Ordered Held in Texas in Shipwreck Suit by Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg Businessweek.  A Carnival Corpcruise ship was ordered held in a Texas port by a U.S. judge in a $10 million lawsuit filed by the family of a German tourist who died aboard the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy. An arrest warrant was issued yesterday for the MS Carnival Triumph, a cruise liner based in Galveston, Texas, according to the lawsuit also filed in federal court in Galveston by the family of Siglinde Stumpf.