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October 12, 2018 - 12:00 am

VOTER REGISTRATION BATTLE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Officials: Change of address won't affect voting

(Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com)

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (AP) — Texas' secretary of state says students at Prairie View A&M University will be allowed to vote in November's election without having to fill out change of address forms, and that officials will be stationed at a campus polling location to ensure there are no problems casting ballots.

Democrats had complained that Waller County officials might block students from voting because of issues over addresses they used to register to vote.

Secretary of State Rolando Pablos convened a conference call Friday with Waller County officials, the heads of the county's Democratic and Republican parties, and Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel.

They later issued a joint statement saying no change of address form "will be required prior to voting," though students will be able to update their address after casting ballots.

WOMEN'S HEALTH-TEXAS

Texas cancels troubled contract with anti-abortion group

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas health officials say they're canceling $6 million in troubled contracts with an anti-abortion group that was hired after the state cut off Planned Parenthood.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Friday that more than $1 million in costs billed by the Heidi Group are under investigation.

The Heidi Group is an evangelical nonprofit that began in the 1990s and promotes alternatives to abortion. Texas hired the group in 2016 to help strengthen small clinics that specialize in women's health but don't offer abortions.

An Associated Press investigation last year found problems with the Heidi Group's performance from the start. Texas health officials still renewed the contract while promising close oversight.

Heidi Group founder Carol Everett didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

ELECTION 2018-SENATE-TEXAS-FUNDRAISING-THE LATEST

The Latest: Cruz says he's willing to debate O'Rourke on CNN

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says he's willing to participate in a nationally televised debate with Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke — potentially raising the stakes on a Texas race already among the country's most-watched.

Cruz made the announcement while campaigning Friday in Houston. It came hours after O'Rourke announced raising a record $38.1 million over the last three months, tripling Cruz's total.

O'Rourke previously said he planned to appear at a townhall in the U.S.-Mexico border town of McAllen that will be carried live Thursday night on CNN.

The network had said it invited Cruz and he'd declined. But Cruz now says if O'Rourke wants a debate, he'll get one.

Cruz and O'Rourke debated last month but canceled a second one amid Senate votes confirming Bret Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. They also will debate Tuesday in San Antonio.

GEORGE HW-BUSH-TEXAS

George H.W. Bush returns to Texas after summer in Maine

HOUSTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush is back in Texas after spending the summer in Maine.

Spokesman Jim McGrath said in a tweet Bush returned Friday to Houston.

The nation's 41st president spends his summers at his family's home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

McGrath said Bush is looking forward to supporting the Houston Astros, who are playing in the AL Championship Series, and eating some Tex-Mex food.

Bush went to Maine a little over a month after the funeral of his 92-year-old wife, former first lady Barbara Bush. She died April 17 at their Houston home.

While in Maine, Bush attended the wedding of his granddaughter Barbara and celebrated his 94th birthday.

Bush also spent more than a week in a Maine hospital for treatment of low blood pressure and fatigue.

SURF RESORT-AMOEBA

Man likely got 'brain-eating amoeba' at Texas resort

WACO, Texas (AP) — Health officials say a New Jersey man who died from a rare "brain-eating amoeba " was likely exposed to it during his visit to a Texas water resort last month.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said Friday that testing done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of the amoeba at one of the four attractions at the BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort in Waco, and conditions favorable for its growth at the other three.

Health officials say the amoeba was found at the attraction that's a natural body of water, but it'll remain open because risk of exposure is considered the same as at any natural body of water. But officials say the other three attractions won't reopen until "all health and safety issues" are addressed.

Fabrizio Stabile died Sept. 21 after contracting the deadly amoeba.

TEXAS STATE SENATOR-CONVICTED

Convicted lawmaker pleads guilty in separate bribery case

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A former Texas state senator who had already been convicted on federal fraud charges has pleaded guilty to a separate charge of bribery.

San Antonio Democrat Carlos Uresti admitted Friday to facilitating bribe payments to ex-Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo in exchange for favorable actions regarding a county medical services contract. Galindo himself pleaded guilty last year.

Uresti will be sentenced in the bribery case in January. In June, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for charges involving defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme.

Uresti had been general counsel for FourWinds Logistics, a now-bankrupt fracking company, and was convicted on 11 counts of money laundering and wire and securities fraud.

The 54-year-old was first elected to the Texas Legislature in 1997. He resigned in June.

WEST TEXAS FLOODING

Search resumes for remaining 2 swept away in Texas floods

JUNCTION, Texas (AP) — Crews have resumed searching along a West Texas river after the bodies were found of two of four people swept away when floodwaters overran a recreational vehicle park.

Texas A&M Forest Service spokeswoman Christi Powers says the search resumed Friday morning. She says while "we never lose hope," the search turned from rescue to recovery after the discovery of two bodies Thursday.

The four were swept away early Monday morning from the RV park in Junction, located about 140 miles (225 kilometers) west of Austin. The search area spans from the RV park to about 35 miles (56 kilometers) downstream as the South Llano (LA'-noh) River becomes the Llano River.

She says the bodies were found along the Llano River, about 9 miles (14 kilometers) downriver from the RV park.

BORDER AGENCY-MISCONDUCT

Border Patrol misconduct stats point to Texas sector issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Border Patrol sector in Laredo, Texas, disciplined employees more on average over two years than any other major sector. That's according to data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday.

The findings were part of a comprehensive look at misconduct at the law enforcement agency, which has 60,000 employees and includes the Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations. The data showed overall there was a slight decline in substantiated complaints of misconduct and fewer arrests of employees between the budget years 2016 and 2017.

The average rate of disciplinary actions in Laredo was 11.3 per 100 employees in the 2016 fiscal year and rose to 13 per 100 employees in 2017. In both years, Laredo was well above the national average.

ELECTION 2018-SENATE-O'ROURKE-LATINOS

O'Rourke's improbable Senate run still needs Latinos to win

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke of Texas still has work to do when it comes to energizing Latino voters in his race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

O'Rourke needs a broad electorate in November to have a chance at pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 midterms. His path to victory includes getting more Latinos to the polls, which Texas Democrats have struggled to do for decades.

Texas ranks near the bottom in voter turnout. And while the state's booming Hispanic population is on pace to outnumber whites as early as 2022, voters with Spanish surnames accounted for fewer than 1 in 5 votes in 2016.

Cruz is Texas' first Hispanic senator and his father emigrated from Cuba. He says the values of the Hispanic community are conservative.

HOTEL WORKERS-STRIKE-TECHNOLOGY

New technology, housekeeping among concerns in hotel strikes

BOSTON (AP) — New technology threatening to make some hotel jobs obsolete is among the concerns prompting thousands of Marriott workers to walk off their jobs across the U.S. in recent weeks.

D. Taylor, international president of the labor union representing the workers, says Unite Here simply wants a say in how potentially game-changing products and services are introduced.

Marriott says the technology isn't meant to replace workers, but enhance guests' stays.

Unionized workers are also seeking higher wages, changes to the work demands for housekeepers and job protections for restaurant and bar staff as some hotels shutter those facilities.

Some 7,700 hotel workers are on strike across eight cities including Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Detroit and Honolulu.

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