Ed Sterling

AUSTIN -- Gov. Rick Perry on Aug. 21 ordered the withdrawal of disaster response personnel and equipment deployed to South Texas in anticipation of Hurricane Dean.

Perry issued the order after the hurricane began tracking on a westerly path away from Texas.

The hurricane earlier struck Jamaica and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and appeared to be headed toward the Texas-Mexico border region.

Personnel, search-and-rescue teams, buses, aircraft and refuelers were staged in the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio to support community efforts to prepare for bad weather.

"Luckily, our state was spared and it is time for the dedicated men

and women who answered the call of duty to return home," Perry said.

College Ready Texas hits road

What does it mean for a student to be "college ready?"

Basically, it has to do with ensuring that high school curriculum matches college entrance standards.

Members of the Commission for a College Ready Texas have been on the road to get more input on exactly what it means.

Austin attorney Sandy Kress chairs the commission. Other members are Robert Scott, acting state commissioner of education, and Raymund Paredes of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

House Bill 1, in effect since 2006, requires teams of educators to define college readiness and the State Board of Education adjust high school curricula and develop online instructional resources for students and professional development for educators.

So far, the commission has gathered public testimony in Austin, Houston, Arlington and Midland. In September, theyíll have meetings in Harlingen and San Antonio.

State considers electronic signs

The Texas Transportation Commission is contemplating passage a regulation that would allow electronic billboards visible to passing motorists.

If the commission grants preliminary approval, a 90-day public comment period will follow before final approval.

Opponents say the changing messages can distract drivers. Supporters say itís not that big of a deal if messages donít flash or crawl.

Home rule municipalities would still have the final say-so in their juridictions.

Sales tax holiday helps shoppers

Shoppers saved about $52 million in state and local sales taxes during the Aug. 17-19 annual sales tax holiday.

Combs and Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, the primary author of the sales tax holiday law, have said they would like to increase the

maximum price for tax-exempt items from $100 to $150.

The officials hope to add another dimension to the tax holiday by including items such as pencils, pens, crayons and paper to the list.

Perry is asked to end shipments

Citizens and more than two dozen state legislators asked Gov. Perry to use his authority to stop further shipments of toxic waste to a Port Arthur incinerator.

The corrosive liquid waste comes from VX, a type of military nerve gas. The gas is chemically broken down and shipped from Indiana to Texas in 4,000 gallon containers.

A Port Arthur firm is processing and disposing the liquid under a three-year, $49 million contract that took effect in April.

State executes death row inmate

Johnny Ray Conner was executed at Huntsville Aug. 22 for the 1998 robbery and murder of convenience store clerk Kathyanna Nguyen in Houston.

Conner was the 400th Texas death row inmate to be executed since 1982, when the state resumed capital punishment.

Florida man given death sentence

John Couey, the Florida man convicted in the 2005 rape-murder of nine-

year-old Jessica Lunsford, was sentenced to death by a Florida court Aug. 24.

The case prompted 31 states, including Texas, to enact some form of Jessicaís Law to help protect children from sexual predators.