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Texas Digest: Abbott vows to cut money for ‘sanctuary’ campuses


IMMIGRATION

Abbott vows to fight ‘sanctuary’ campuses

Gov. Greg Abbott says he will cut funding to public universities that become what he described as “sanctuary” campuses for immigrant students. The Republican provided no other details.

Abbott tweeted the vow Thursday in response to a story about Texas State University students urging school leaders to declare the campus a “sanctuary” amid concerns from immigrant students. Similar efforts are underway at other universities across the U.S. as some students fear deportation under President-elect Donald Trump.

Abbott tweeted that Texas “will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities.” He didn’t elaborate and a spokesman didn’t return an email seeking comment.

Abbot has also threatened to make millions of dollars off-limits to counties that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

TRINITY

1 student dies in school van wreck

One student has been killed and 10 hurt when an East Texas school van was rear-ended while stopped to pick up children, officials said.

The Department of Public Safety said the Trinity Independent School District van was struck by a pickup Thursday morning, 5 miles west of Trinity. That’s 75 miles north of Houston.

Students in both vehicles were hurt. A spokeswoman for East Texas Medical Center in Trinity said 10 children and the school van driver were in fair condition.

Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace said the 7-year-old girl from the van, who died at the hospital, was a deputy’s daughter.

Wallace said the pickup carried three students, including the driver who possibly was blinded by the sun while coming over a hill and upon the stopped van.

DALLAS

21 indicted in hospital case

Nearly two dozen people associated with a bankrupt physician-owned North Dallas luxury hospital have been indicted in what authorities described as a massive bribery and kickback conspiracy.

The indictment unsealed Thursday in Dallas accuses 21 executives and physicians with Forest Park Medical Center of paying and taking bribes and kickbacks for patient referrals with high-reimbursement private medical insurance. Owners, managers and employees also are accused of trying to sell to other facilities for cash referrals of patients with lower-paying insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

A U.S. attorney’s statement says bribes and kickbacks paid and received totaled about $40 million. The 20-count indictment alleges that such inducements resulted in hospital billings to elite insurance plans of “well over” $500 million from 2009 to 2013. That included more than $10 million to the Defense Department health care program, more than $25 million to the workers’ compensation program for federal employees, and more than $60 million from the federal employees’ and retirees’ health care program. In return, it received $200 million in claim payments.

Forest Park was an out-of-network hospital that could set its own prices and receive generally greater reimbursements.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Feds to tour Texas over education access

The U.S. Education Department plans to send officials to tour Texas and take public comment on the state reportedly capping student enrollment in special education.

Federal officials will visit Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley next month. Members of the public unable to attend sessions can leave online comments for department officials.

The Houston Chronicle has reported that schools began denying special education services after the state imposed an 8.5 percent enrollment benchmark in 2004.

In a subsequent letter to the Education Department, the Texas Education Agency denied imposing enrollment caps. It said it had no evidence of a “systematic denial” of special education services to students with disabilities.

LEAGUE CITY

Mayor wants to fire city manager

A Houston-area mayor wants to fire a city manager who previously was dismissed as the top administrator in Joplin, Mo., over the botched redevelopment of Joplin in the wake of a devastating tornado.

League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and City Manager Mark Rohr have repeatedly criticized one another over various issues.

The Galveston County Daily News reported that Hallisey will seek Rohr’s firing at a Dec. 13 City Council meeting.

Rohr was fired as Joplin’s city manager in 2014. An investigation found he made no effort to have agreements with a developer reviewed by outside legal counsel.

The developer had presented $800 million in projects to help Joplin rebuild from a 2011 tornado that destroyed a large swath of the city and killed 161 residents. But the developer later walked away.

CROWLEY

Teenager charged in death of parents

A teenager is charged with two counts of murder in the death of his adoptive parents at the home they shared south of Fort Worth, police said.

Crowley Police Chief Luis Soler said at a news conference Thursday that 17-year-old Carl Edward Brewer was arrested a day earlier after a standoff at the North Texas home.

Officers found the bodies of Troy and Mary Brewer after being called Tuesday on a welfare check. After footsteps were heard upstairs, a tactical team was called and the standoff ensued.

Brewer exited the home several hours later after tear gas was used. He’s being held on a $200,000 bond.

Police had responded to the home several times since 2010.


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