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Texas Sales Tax Revenue Up & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – State sales tax receipts for July were up 2.2 percent compared to last year. Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday that revenue increased $1.69 billion from July 2009, when Texas was in the middle of a 14-month sales tax slump.

The increase marks the fourth consecutive month of gains for Texas.

Combs says sales tax collections in the major sectors - retail, the oil and natural gas industry and construction - are up from a year ago.

Sales tax receipts make up the state's largest revenue stream.

Dallas Bans K-2

The Dallas City Council has banned K-2.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway says the herbal incense mimics marijuana and sometimes produces hallucinations. He says it's dangerous and a health hazard. Police Chief David Brown urged the ban. He says K-2 use is growing rapidly among young people, with detrimental effects.

At City Hall, three speakers argued against a K-2 ban - noting that it is NOT illegal under state or federal law.

The Dallas K-2 ban goes into effect August 15th. Fines for possession run up to two thousand dollars.

Dallas joins several suburban cities in banning the herbal mixture.

Texas AG: No opinion on same-sex marriage licenses

Attorney General Greg Abbott's office has declined to provide an opinion on whether Texas counties can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if one of the people had sex reassignment surgery.

Abbott's office on Aug. 6. deferred because a similar civil case is pending in Wharton County.

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal in April requested the AG's opinion, after Sabrina Jeanne Hill sought a license to marry another woman.

Hill's birth certificate indicated she was born male, but her driver's license listed Hill as female, as did a court order acknowledging she changed her name after surgically becoming a woman.

Hill and Therese Bur wed in May in Bexar County, which relied on a 1999 appeals court ruling to let Hill use her birth certificate listing her gender as male.

Paul Quinn forum on strengthening black colleges

The Obama administration's primary advocate for historically black colleges is slated to speak and listen at a town hall meeting at Paul Quinn College.

John Silvanus Wilson Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, was scheduled to attend Wednesday night's forum in Dallas on ways to revitalize and preserve historically black schools.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2009 revoked the accreditation of Paul Quinn, which is the oldest historically black college in Texas. The school went to federal court and blocked the move. The case is pending.

Wilson was appointed by President Barack Obama in July 2009.