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This Hour: Latest Texas news, sports, business and entertainment

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SCHOOLS-GUN LAW

Abbott: Armed school employees OK under Texas law

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Attorney General Greg Abbott says Texas school districts that authorize employees to carry handguns aren't violating state law.

The Texas Legislature last year approved a measure allowing rural districts that can't afford police security to arm designated employees to better protect students.

In an opinion Friday, Abbott found that doing so doesn't violate firearm bans at school sporting events or during school board meetings.

A Republican now running for governor, Abbott said state law allows schools to grant exceptions to gun bans.

His decision followed El Paso Rep. Joe Pickett's request for clarification.

Pickett, a Democrat, noted that previous law banned weapons from school premises and school-sponsored events.

Pickett also said the state's concealed handgun law didn't allow license-holders to bring guns to high school sporting events and board meetings.

PURPLE HEART CEREMONY

Guardsman to receive Purple Heart at Texas event

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno will present the Purple Heart at Fort Sam Houston to a staff sergeant injured while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Robert Drebenstedt is scheduled to receive the decoration Wednesday at the fort's Warrior and Family Support Center.

Drebenstedt is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard injured by an improvised explosive device August 1st, 2012. Officials at Fort Sam Houston did not release details on the extent of the combat engineer's injuries.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces wounded as a result of enemy actions.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST-FATAL CRASH

More charges added in South By Southwest crash

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A driver already charged with capital murder now is facing additional charges weeks after he plowed into a late-night crowd during the South By Southwest festival in Austin.

Travis County jail records showed Friday that 21-year-old Rashad Owens of Killeen is accused of four new counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He's facing 20 previous counts of the same charge.

Authorities have said Owens accelerated through the crowd March 13th, killing two people and leaving more than 20 injured. Two others later died of their injuries. Police say Owens was fleeing a patrolman and driving down a closed street when the crash happened.

He was charged with capital murder days after the incident.

He remains incarcerated and his bail has swelled from $3 million to $5.1 million.

PLANT EXPLOSION-TEXAS

Year after blast, Texas town ponders new plant

WEST, Texas (AP) - Leaders in a Central Texas town devastated last year by a deadly fertilizer plant explosion are contemplating building a new one, calling it a crucial step in West's economic recovery.

The idea has raised anxieties among locals, who say the continued lack of state and local regulations would put them at risk of another disaster. But many residents and officials see a new plant as a necessary risk for a town whose economic lifeblood is agriculture.

Local animal feed company general manager Donna Charanza says West would be lucky to have another plant, but would "have to be careful about where it goes."

A fire inside the plant a year ago ignited 34 tons of ammonium nitrate, causing an explosion that killed 15 people and leveled homes and schools.

KEYSTONE PIPELINE

US delays review of Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas before deciding whether to issue a permit.

That could push a decision about the controversial oil pipeline until after the midterm elections in November.

The State Department is citing a recent decision by a Nebraska judge that overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state. The State Department says that created uncertainty and ongoing litigation.

The government is not saying how much longer the review will take. But it says the process isn't starting over.

The pipeline has become a politically fraught issue. Republicans criticize President Barack Obama for taking too long to decide. The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS-FINANCES

University overstated fiscal health by some $23M

DENTON, Texas (AP) - Financial documents released by the University of North Texas show accounting irregularities that have overstated the university's financial position by as much as $23 million.

Audits conducted by the university and a private firm show misleading budget entries made since 2012 to account for unresolved collections. But they were registered as accounts receivable, which are often recorded as assets. The university's budget in 2012 was $520 million.

The documents were obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle through an open records request.

The audit by the private firm also found UNT inflated the amount of cash it had by $5.9 million.

The developments are another financial setback for UNT. In an unrelated matter, the university may have to repay millions for inappropriately using state money to pay some employee benefits.

TEXAS SPRING

Strong makes Texas debut with spring scrimmage

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - For the first time since 1997, the Texas Longhorns will suit up for a game without Mack Brown on the sideline.

That Saturday is just the annual spring scrimmage hardly matters. This is Charlie Strong's burnt orange coaching debut, the first time he will put a Texas team on the field that has trained under his leadership, practiced his playbook and begun taking on the identity of the coach hired to dig the program out of four years of mediocrity.

Strong already has a problem at quarterback. David Ash, the starter at the beginning of 2013 until a concussion cut short his season, now has a fractured a bone in his left foot and will not play Saturday. That leaves freshman Tyrone Swoopes to run the first-team offense.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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