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Texans Can Weigh In About Redrawing Of Political Maps In 2021, Houston Health Officials Link Recent Lung Illnesses To Vaping, And Concern Over Draining Of Four Lakes In Central Texas

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

View of the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Texans Can Weigh In About Redrawing Of Political Maps In 2021

The Texas House Redistricting Committee held its first public hearing Tuesday to gather input on how to draw the next round of political maps ahead of 2021.

Tuesday’s hearing in Austin was just the first of a series of public hearings that will take place across the state up until the end of 2020.

These field hearings are an opportunity for the public to give lawmakers personal context and information about where their communities are located.

The last time lawmakers drew up political boundaries for the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, in 2011, courts found they intentionally discriminated against racial minorities.

A federal court forced the state to redraw the maps in 2013, but the legal battle continued over the decade.

Dr. David Persse is the City of Houston’s public health authority.

Houston Health Officials Link Recent Lung Illnesses To Vaping

Houston health officials are worried about three recent cases of serious lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes and are alerting the public about the risks of vaping. 

Dr. David Persse, the City of Houston’s public health authority, told reporters Tuesday that the three confirmed local cases are all under 21 years of age. Their hospitalizations occurred within the past month.

Persse noted that many e-cigarettes are nicotine-based, which is dangerous as nicotine is addictive.

The Harris County Public Health Department also said it had been notified about a high school student in Northwest Harris County who became ill after vaping. Additionally, the Texas Department of State Health Services investigating suspected cases of severe lung disease in people who used e-cigarettes.

Researchers are investigating whether some vaping products contain THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

The dam at Lake McQueeny, near Seguin, is one of four remaining in the Guadalupe River Valley in Central Texas that are at risk of failure.

Concern Over Draining Of Four Lakes In Central Texas

Texas officials will start draining four lakes next week in Guadalupe County in Central Texas without a plan in place for when the lakes, and the 90-year-old dams that support them, will be rebuilt, The Texas Tribune reported.

Area homeowners, who got barely a month’s notice, said they felt blindsided by the plan, and they say it will slash their property values, kill their beloved century-old cypress trees and render the lakes — which have hosted water skiing tournaments for decades — unusable.

But Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority officials say they don’t have a choice.

The dams, two of which have already had catastrophic failures, are creating a safety hazard that could flood entire neighborhoods if they get any worse, river authority spokeswoman Patty Gonzales said.

Damage and flooding from the first two floodgate collapses was minimal, but with four dams left, officials are worried further failures could flood neighborhoods and put people on or near the lakes in danger.

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