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Nearly 200 Thousand Without Power & Midday Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA

Dallas, TX –

The power is out to 180-thousand North Texas homes and businesses after yesterday's record snowfall.

Chris Schein, with Oncor Electric, says outages are widespread and due primarily to heavy snow bending tree limbs into power lines.

He says repair crews are working as quickly as they can.

Schein: It's going to be quite a while to get it done. They conditions, road conditions outside are actually causing our crews to work a little slower. We don't have any idea on restoration times right now.

Schein says 1500 repair crews from other utilities have been called in to help.

DFW Airport Digs Out

Snow forced cancellation of more than 200 flights at DFW Airport this morning. That number was 300 yesterday. But the situation is improving, according to the airport's David Magana

Magana: We're dealing with it as best we can. I think we did pretty well keeping runways open and keeping the large number of flights moving that we did keep moving - about half our schedule, a little more than half. But that's a foot of snow that we're just not used to seeing.

Magana says about one thousand people spent the night in DFW terminals last night. But he says the airlines' advance notice of cancellations cut down the number of stranded passengers substantially.

Texas sales tax collections continue slide

Sales tax collections across Texas continued their slide in January as major sectors like retail, fuel production and construction posted lower numbers.

The state collected $1.66 billion in sales tax revenue last month, down 14.2 percent from January 2009 - the highest collection month ever.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said Friday that sales tax collections were expected to continue to decline in the coming months but that the decline should moderate. She said a growth in sales is expected in the second quarter.

Texas Supreme Court will hear strip club case

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the state's so-called "pole tax," a $5 entrance fee at strip clubs, is constitutional. The fee was meant to fund programs assisting victims of sexual assault. Lower courts have ruled it an unconstitutional regulation of free expression.

Although many clubs have ignored the fee, more than $12 million has been collected. That money has been held in an account pending the outcome of the legal battle.

The Supreme Court on Friday scheduled oral arguments in the case for March 25.