AUSTIN — A plan to put a string of 200 video surveillance cameras along the 1,200-mile border Texas shares with Mexico appears to be moving forward.
On behalf of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of Public Safety is soliciting bids from contractors who can install and maintain the cameras and do related work.
The state is calling the proposed line of cameras a “virtual neighborhood watch.” That’s because via the Internet, citizens are eventually supposed to be able to monitor the cameras and report suspicious activity.
Meanwhile, through lawsuits, the federal government is pressuring about 50 private landholders to allow their land to be surveyed as possible border fence sites.
But the federal government dropped its suit to acquire fenceable borderland under the control of the University of Texas-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. The two sides say they will explore non-fence methods to secure the area.
Parties hold county conventions
On March 29, the Texas Democratic and Republican parties held county and senate district conventions to elect delegates and alternates to the state party conventions to be held in June.
Also at the county party conventions, officers were elected, convention rules were adopted and resolutions were passed and forwarded for consideration at the respective state conventions.
U.S. Sen. John McCain already has been declared the GOP presidential nominee based on the amassing of primary votes. U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are still battling. Clinton won the popular vote in the March 4 Texas primary, but Obama won the delegate count on March 29, many sources have stated.
SBOE to accept Hispanic input
The State Board of Education met March 27 and voted unanimously to accept more input before final adoption of new English reading standards that will be used for the next 10 years.
The board is scheduled to vote on final adoption of proposed changes to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test that students must pass to advance in elementary, middle and high school.
A week before the meeting, board member Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi and state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, said more needs to be done to help students because thousands have struggled with the current reading curriculum.
Berlanga and Herrero asked that the board accept expert input on the learning styles of Hispanic children.
Forty-seven percent of the total number of children enrolled in public school in Texas are Hispanic, Berlanga pointed out.
Most eighth graders pass reading
Ninety-two percent of Texas’ eighth-grade students passed the reading portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, the Texas Education Agency reported.
This is the first year that students must pass the eighth-grade reading test in order to be promoted, the agency said.
Eighth graders will take the math portion of TAKS on April 8.
Auto insurance minimums go up
State law requires people who drive in Texas to be financially responsible for the accidents they cause.
Before April 1, the minimum amount of liability insurance required was $20,000 for each person injured in an accident, up to a total of $40,000 for everyone injured in an accident, and $15,000 for property damage per accident.
And beginning April 1, the minimum amount of liability insurance Texas drivers are required to carry for bodily injury/property damage will be $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.
This is the first time those numbers have increased in 22 years.
Yudof accepts California post
Mark Yudof, University of Texas System chancellor for the last six years, is moving on.
Yudof, 63, accepted an offer to be chancellor for the University of California System.
The UT System board of regents will conduct a national search for candidates to succeed Yudof.
Texas metros are growing fast
Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio were listed among the top 10 metropolitan areas in population growth, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau on March 27.