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The Lead: AMD Sale-Lease Deal, Pot Bill Pending, STAAR Test

Jason Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Highsin the mid-70’s today bring perfect weather for South By Southwest music fans.

Lead Story: Advanced Micro Devices says it is selling its southwest Austin campus and leasing it back. AMD says it won’t affect operations, but it will free up about $164 million in cash.

The company’s bottom line has been hurt by the recent downturn in PC sales – and AMD gone through several rounds of layoffs over the past few years.

Pot Bill Left Pending: A proposal toloosen penalties for marijuana possession got a hearing at the state Capitol yesterday. State Representative Harold Dutton proposed the bill which would reduce possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a ticketed offense, rather than one that requires any jail time. 

“I think that what this does is recognizes, as many of the judges have, that there is something about the way we have been dealing with this problem that we are now participants in the problem.” 

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee left the bill pending, but committee members did indicate some support for the bill.

STAAR Bill Hearing: A plan to reduce the number of tests needed to graduate from Texas high schools was in front of the Senate Public Education Committee yesterday.

Public Ed chair Dan Patrick’s proposal would also create new pathways to graduation for students who don’t plan to attend college.

But senators from both parties raised concerns about unanswered questions. Dallas Democrat Royce West said he wanted to make sure school districts can afford to tutor disadvantaged students.

“And I’d ask that we all kind of link it all together to make certain that students are not held accountable for end-of-course exams when they don’t have the resources necessary in order to pass it the second time or the third time they take it.”

Meanwhile, parents will have a chance to look at the 2013 STAAR test a year earlier than expected. The Texas Education Agency says it will release copies of the exam in August. Education Commissioner Michael Williams says he hopes the release will eliminate some of the concern surrounding the standardized test. 

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