Wednesday PM February 9th, 2011

Comptroller Susan Combs says sales tax revenue for last month jumped more than 10% compared to a year ago. Combs reported the January sales tax figure was $1.83 billion. She says sales tax revenues have improved for the last ten months, reflecting increased activity in almost all major economic sectors. Combs reports the strongest growth was from sectors fueled by business spending, such as oil and gas activity.


The State Senate has passed a bill 31-0 giving property owners more protections when the government wants to take their land. The bill prevents governments from taking land through a process called "eminent domain" unless it would be put to public use. It would require governments to make a bona fide purchase offer and allow landowners to buy back the land after 10 years if the public project has not begun. Governor Rick Perry declared the issue an emergency for the legislative session.


The Obama Administration says it supports the farming of fish in federal waters, but that it needs to be done in a safe and scientifically sound manner. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration laid out the policy framework for regulating aquaculture operations in coastal and offshore waters. Businesses have proposed growing fish on unused oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, an agency that oversees the Gulf, approved fish farming in 2009.


A campaign to reduce the illegal sale of firearms has returned to Houston. Federal officials are partnering the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade association, to promote the “Don't Lie for the Other Guy'' campaign. The effort is targeting so-called straw purchases, where individuals buy guns for others. Officials say guns bought in this manner are often smuggled into Mexico for use by drug cartels. The campaign will also distribute educational materials to Houston area gun retailers to help them spot straw purchases.

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