Week of March 7-13, 2016

Cruz, Clinton emerge as winners in Texas primaries
AUSTIN — March 1 Super Tuesday election returns posted by the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Division show 2.8 million (about 20 percent) of the state’s 14.2 million registered voters cast a ballot in the Republican Party Presidential Primary.
In the Democratic Party Presidential Primary, the statewide turnout was 1.4 million, or about 10 percent of the state’s registered voters.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won the GOP contest with 1,239,370 votes, or 43.75 percent. Coming in second was New York businessman Donald Trump with 757,618 votes, or 26.74 percent. In third place was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 502,223 votes, or 17.73 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich placed fourth with 120,257 votes, or 4.24 percent.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York won the Democratic contest with 934,999 votes, or 65.21 percent. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont placed second with 475,561 votes, or 33.16 percent.
In 2012, about 1.45 million people voted in the Texas Republican Party Primary and about 590,000 people voted in the Texas Democratic Party Primary. Those primaries were held on May 29, 2012.
Court hears HB 2 case
Before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller delivered oral arguments in support of House Bill 2, legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 to toughen existing abortion laws.
Supporters of HB 2 say the legislation improves patient safety and raises the standard of care for women at abortion facilities. Opponents say HB 2 puts an unconstitutional burden on women in need of a variety of health services, including abortion. 
A ruling on the case is expected in June.
Paxton files haze suit
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Feb. 29 announced the state has filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for rejecting Texas’ seven-year-old proposed revision to its plan for reducing regional haze in the state. 
The lawsuit was filed in the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 
In January, the EPA rejected the state’s plan in favor of a federal plan. Paxton said that under the EPA’s plan, power generators “would have to install costly, unnecessary upgrades to become compliant. This could both make electricity more expensive, and could result in fewer plants at a time when Texas needs more capacity, not less.”
More are taking tests
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath on March 1 announced the number of Texas graduates taking at least one “Advanced Placement Program” exam during high school has more than doubled over the past decade, according to College Board’s AP Cohort Data Report for the Class of 2015. 
Also, according to the announcement, the percentage of Texas students taking at least one AP exam in high school continues to outpace the national average.
DPS upholds decision 
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw on March 1 issued a letter of final termination, upholding his Jan. 28 preliminary decision to terminate Trooper Brian Encinia from the department for reasons related to the trooper’s traffic stop of Sandra Bland on July 10, 2015, in Prairie View.
Encinia has the right to appeal his termination to the Texas Public Safety Commission, the five-member oversight board for the DPS, McCraw stated in the text of the letter.
Bland was booked into Waller County Jail following her arrest by Encinia. She was found hanged in her cell three days later, on July 13. The assistant county medical examiner issued an autopsy report on July 24, ruling the death a suicide.
Zika cases increase
The Texas Department of State Health Services on March 4 reported Texas so far has had 18 confirmed cases of the Zika virus disease. 
Of those cases, 17 were found in travelers who were infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. One case involved a Dallas County resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the Zika infection while traveling abroad. 
Case numbers by county were listed as follows: Bexar, 3; Dallas, 2; Fort Bend, 1; Harris, 9; Tarrant, 1; and Travis, 2.
Economy adds jobs
Texas employers expanded their payrolls in January with the addition of 31,400 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs, marking the tenth consecutive month of job growth for Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission reported March 4.
Also, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in January, down from a revised 4.6 percent in December, and remained below the national average of 4.9 percent.