News Brief
6:14 am
Thu June 23, 2011

Top Morning Stories June 23, 2011

Lawmakers at Odds Over Windstorm Insurance

Texas lawmakers are running out of time to overhaul the cash-strapped Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.  That’s the insurer of last resort for people who live along the Texas coast. The Texas Senate approved its version of a TWIA overhaul bill yesterday. It’s very different from the House version which is stricter and limits how much residents could sue TWIA for, if they feel their policy isn’t being honored.

The Senate and House have to reach a compromise before the end of this special session next week.  If not, Governor Rick Perry says he could call lawmakers back to work again:

Reforming TWIA is imperative to protecting Texans from the effects of devastating hurricane seasons, and I look forward to this important legislation reaching my desk in the next week, otherwise I will be forced to call another special session to protect Texas taxpayers and homeowners

City Council Scheduled to Vote on F1

The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote today on a deal to bring a Formula One auto race to Austin. Construction is already underway southeast of Austin.  People from around the world have been signing an online petition in favor of the track. Meanwhile the editorial director of Auto Week magazine has written a piece urging Austin to reject it.

Perhaps the biggest development is a recent lawsuit filed against the state comptroller to block state funding for F1. The Austin American-Statesman is reporting newly elected city council member Kathie Tovo is calling for today's vote to be delayed until she takes office.

Council Considering I-35 Study

The city council is also scheduled to vote on whether to hire a consultant to study traffic improvements for the always congested I-35.  The study has a one million dollar price tag and would be funded by last year's transportation bond.  Some of the ideas being tossed around for the interstate: adding tolled lanes and creating new off ramps.  KUT's Mose Buchele has more on these ideas in his blog post which you can read here

Quintana Acquitted of Assault Charge

The Statesman is reporting a Williamson County jury has acquitted former Austin Police Officer Leonardo Quintana of one domestic assault charge that led to his firing from APD.

Quintana — who fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II outside an East Austin apartment complex in May 2009 — was accused of forcefully trying to remove an engagement ring from the hand of Lori Noriega, his then-fiancée , in November 2008 after she told him she was leaving him. She also accused him of grabbing her by the neck and shoving her into a door during the same incident.

Quintana faced up to a year in jail if convicted.

"I think the fact that it only took the jury 30 minutes to render a verdict spoke to the strength of our case," said Bristol Myers , an attorney for Quintana.

The paper reports three other charges against Quintana are still pending.