TEXAS-NEW MEXICO WATER FIGHT

Parties pledge new thinking to solve interstate water fight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Farmers in southern New Mexico, water policy experts, lawyers and others are all working behind the scenes to craft possible solutions that could help to end a lengthy battle with Texas over management of the Rio Grande.

The case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and all sides say the stakes are high given uncertainty about the future sustainability of water supplies throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office, Las Cruces city officials and agricultural interests provided state lawmakers with an update Tuesday.

The court could schedule arguments early next year, but New Mexico is still open to settlement talks. Separately, the farmers and municipalities that would be affected by a ruling have been meeting regularly to build a framework for a possible settlement.

GOP GOVERNORS

Republican governors gather amid party setbacks, turmoil

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans who control two-thirds of the nation's governorships are gathering in America's largest red state, in part to strategize about how to maintain their political dominance.

But electoral defeats last week, unfulfilled congressional promises and President Donald Trump's plummeting popularity have some attendees concerned about a shifting political landscape.

Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker during the two-day gathering of the Republican Governors Association, which kicks off Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

Some of the former Indiana governor's ex-colleagues may need a pep talk. Just as some Democrats facing tight midterm elections once shied away from President Barack Obama, there might now be Republicans tempted to tip-toe away from their party's leadership.

HARVEY-RECOVERY-DUNES

Texas coastal cities undertake post-Harvey dune restoration

(Information from: The Galveston County Daily News)

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The relaxation of state regulations after Hurricane Harvey has allowed Texas coastal communities to undertake nearly a dozen dune reconstruction projects.

The Galveston County Daily News reports that Galveston can authorize emergency beachfront repairs until at least Jan. 3, including for dunes damaged by the storm.

The Texas General Land Office usually makes the final decision on applications collected by the city, but it issued an emergency rule in September suspending its own oversight to speed up post-hurricane repairs.

Galveston was largely spared from major destruction, but several groups on the West End say the dunes in their neighborhoods were almost wiped out by Hurricane Harvey's runoff and storm surge. They say the lack of adequate dune structures puts infrastructure at risk.

TEXAS POLICE SHOOTING-TRUCK ALARM

Charge dropped against man shot by police in Dallas suburb

MESQUITE, Texas (AP) — Police in a Dallas suburb have dropped an evading arrest charge against a black man who was shot by police last week while trying to get into his truck.

Mesquite police department spokesman Lt. Brian Parrish says the charge was dropped against Lyndo Jones Tuesday afternoon, but police may revisit the charge at a later date.

Parrish said officers responded on Nov. 8 when someone reported a man trying to break into a vehicle and setting off the alarm. Police say Jones was shot twice by Officer Derick Wiley during a scuffle with officers who were trying to handcuff him.

Parrish says Wiley, who is also black, has been placed on paid leave during an internal investigation.

Jones' attorney S. Lee Merritt says the shooting was not justified.

CHURCH SHOOTING-FAMILY FUNERAL

Family funeral for a third of Texas church shooting victims

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) — One of the survivors of a mass shooting at a small Texas church will hold a funeral Wednesday for his pregnant wife and three of her children, his parents, a brother and a toddler niece.

John Holcombe has arranged a public funeral for his family at an event center in Floresville, Texas, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where the shooting occurred. A procession of hearses will travel from the funeral home to the center.

The dead will be buried privately on an unspecified date.

Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 25 people at the church Nov. 5. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because Holcombe's wife, Crystal Holcombe, was pregnant.

Kelley died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

TEXAS STATE-GREEK LIFE SUSPENDED

Texas State suspends frats, sororities after pledge dies

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — Texas State University has suspended all fraternity and sorority chapter activities following the death of a fraternity pledge after an initiation ritual.

In a statement Tuesday, university officials say Matt Ellis was found unresponsive Monday morning at an off-campus apartment. The 20-year-old sophomore from Humble (UHM'-buhl), Texas, had attended a party that Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members hosted Sunday night at the apartment.

An autopsy has been ordered. Police in San Marcos, Texas, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Austin, say they suspect alcohol played a role in the death.

In a statement, the Phi Kappa Psi national office says it suspended the Texas State chapter last week for unrelated matters, and it will remain suspended while the investigation continues.

University President Denise Trauth says the chapters won't be reinstated until a review is done of the entire fraternity and sorority system on campus.

DALLAS-BACK PAY

Dallas to pay nearly $62M to first responders in back pay

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas will pay nearly $62 million to settle a back pay dispute with police and firefighters in a salary issue related to a 1979 decision by voters.

The Dallas City Council on Tuesday agreed to settle four lawsuits linked to pay for hundreds of first responders.

The $61.7 million settlement resolves some lawsuits filed in the 1990s. Two lawsuits remain.

A referendum approved in 1979 gave police and firefighters a raise. The language referred to a pay differential for various ranks that was to be maintained.

Emergency responders said the differential was to be maintained forever. City attorneys said the differential was only for that year.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said Tuesday that Dallas did nothing wrong and they're doing what the referendum said the city would do.

CONGRESS-FLOOD INSURANCE

House passes bill to renew flood insurance program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed legislation that will increase flood insurance premiums for many property owners to help firm up a program under stress from ever-more frequent and powerful storms.

The bill's passage Tuesday was secured when sponsors agreed to accommodate lawmakers determined to protect constituents from steeper rate hikes.

The measure passed 237-189. Opposition largely came from Democratic lawmakers, but some Republicans also argued that recent changes to the bill didn't go far enough to keep rates affordable.

Just last month, the National Flood Insurance Program needed a $16 billion bailout to continue paying claims stemming from Hurricane Harvey. Critics said that demonstrated the need for a major overhaul as Congress considered a long-term extension.

The program is the only flood insurance available to most Americans.

SUPER INVADER

'Super invader' tree hits South, but flea beetle may be hero

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Southern states appear to be losing ground to the Chinese tallow, a highly invasive tree overtaking forests from Texas to Florida.

Tallows are dangerous because they grow three times faster than most native hardwoods, outcompeting southern maples, oaks, elms and cypress for space and resources.

Tallows also have no known insect predators in the U.S. At least not yet. Scientists are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the possible release of a beetle that eats tallow roots and leaves and spends its entire life cycle on the tree.

The "bio-control agent," a flea beetle from the tallow's native region of eastern China, could be released in the U.S. as early as next year.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-TEXAS

Texas sees increase in domestic violence reports

(Information from: Houston Chronicle)

HOUSTON (AP) — Domestic violence cases have sharply increased in Texas in recent years.

The Houston Chronicle reports that state figures show more than 214,000 wives, husbands, girlfriends and others were injured or died in 2016 at the hands of a family member. State statistics show that's an increase from about 193,000 in 2011.

In Houston, local police report they received more than 24,000 domestic violence cases in the first 10 months of this year. That's a 45 percent increase over a similar period in 2013.

The Texas Council on Family Violence says the state continues "to underestimate the reach and devastation of domestic violence."

The gunman in the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, had a history of domestic violence. Victim advocates say the shooting is an example of how domestic violence often spill out into public spaces.

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