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New Dallas Water Conservation Move & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The city of Dallas is teaming up with hotels and restaurants to conserve water.

Mayor Tom Leppert says conservation efforts by Dallas residents and businesses have saved more than 120 BILLION gallons of water over the past ten years.

The Mayor says the hospitality industry can boost those numbers with the cooperation of customers.

Leppert: Encourage their guests to allow less frequent sheet and linen changes, less frequent towel changes. Water will be served in dining rooms on a request basis. By taking these actions, we estimate the average hotel could save up to 200 thousand gallons a year.

The new voluntary initiative has the support of the hotel and restaurant associations, as well as the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Texas sales tax collections up in December

The Texas economy continues to improve with December state sales tax revenue reaching $1.81 billion.

State Comptroller Susan Combs today announced that the latest figure is up 9.4 percent, compared to December 2009.

Combs says it's the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year improvement in Texas sales tax revenues.

She says increases in the oil and natural gas and manufacturing sectors reflect recovering business spending. Combs says sales tax in the retail trade and restaurant sectors also rose in December.

November sales tax collections in Texas also topped $1.8 billion.

Super Bowl And Human Trafficking

U.S. Senator John Cornyn is applauding North Texas efforts to crack down on an expected spike in "sex trafficking" during the Super Bowl.

Cornyn was briefed by law enforcement in Dallas today. He says sex and labor trafficking demands extra effort from police, social service agencies and sometimes immigration.

Cornyn: We want to treat the victims of this trafficking in such as way that we get to the underbelly of these organized criminal activities, which is what these are.

Senator Cornyn says big events like the Super Bowl elevate attention on the problem of human trafficking. But he says it's an ongoing tragedy.

He says public awareness of the problem needs to be increased, and people need to report suspicious activities.

The Super Bowl is February 6th at Cowboys Stadium.

Texas lawmakers move to ban synthetic marijuana

Texas lawmakers hope to ban the production, sale and possession of six forms of synthetic marijuana in legislation they say would be the most comprehensive in the nation.

Legislation announced Wednesday seeks to ban new chemical compounds that mimic THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana. Chemists spray the chemicals on herbs and then sell them under a variety of brand names to be smoked. There are hundreds of different chemical formulations that attach to chemical receptors in the brain and make people high, and many are already banned.

State Sen. Florence Shapiro and state Rep. Jerry Madden, Republican lawmakers from Plano, introduced legislation to ban six currently unregulated sub-classes of these compounds that make up most of the products currently sold across the state.