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Top Morning Stories 1/19/2012

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Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News
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Texas Governor Rick Perry drops out of Presidential race.

Governor Rick Perry Drops out of GOP race

Texas Governor Rick Perry is dropping out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, sources are telling the New York Times and CNN.

Perry has a news conference scheduled for 10 o’clock this morning in South Carolina, where he’s expected to make a formal announcement.

The Associated Press reports he will endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Agriculture Commissioner Makes Statement on Pipeline Decision

From the Texas Agriculture Board, the  Agriculture Commissioner made comments about the president's decision to deny the permit to build the Keystone Pipeline. He says the decision denies "American jobs and energy security at a time when our country needs them most. ”

He believes that “responsible pipeline development” will protect private property owner’s rights, the environment and provide energy resources for America.

Many business and political leaders in Texas have come out against the president's rejection of the pipeline. One of Texas' Railroad Commissioners, Barry Smitherman, estimates that the pipeline would generate 2.3 billion dollars in additional spending in the lone star state.

Environmentalists say the president made a logical decision. Trevor Lavelle of Public Citizen says the third largest aquifer in the state – located in East Texas – was at risk.

AT&T Raises Data Rates

The Dallas-based firm announced yesterday new data plans for smart phones and tablets, which would raise prices for their customers. The new smartphone rates outline a 5-dollar increase in price, but customers will receive an increase in data as well. Customers can choose from a $30 plan for 3GB, up from the $25 for 2GB, $20 for 300 MB and $50 for 5GB with mobile hotspot/tethering. Tablet plans include $30 for 3GB and $ 50 for 5GB.

Current data customers will have the choice to upgrade or keep their existing plans.

City of Austin Revises Bag-ban Proposal

City of Austin presented a revised draft of the single-use bag ordinance on Wednesday night at the Environmental Board Meeting.

KXAN reports, the new draft called 2.5, suggests starting the educational prep time and the fee period for the program in March, and the actual ban would begin in March 2014.

The ban’s opponents feel the new timeline does not allow enough time to train employees and reprogram the registers only to undo the changes once the ban ends.

The latest proposal would allow retailers to charge 10-cents as opposed to 25- cents for each plastic or paper bag during the fee period, which would end March 2014. Customers can only use reusable bags once the bag ban takes effect.

Retailers can apply for a hardship which would render them exempt from the ban. Under the newest draft, certain items will be exempt from the ordinance.

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