BG Note | News - What We're Reading (June 1, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Survey finds soccer stadium concerns; alternative development proposals on tap (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

With City Council members set to receive a proposal for constructing a 20,000-seat soccer stadium on a parcel of city-owned land in North Austin, a new survey shows Austin residents have mixed support for any agreement that would let owners of a professional sports franchise utilize the land for its own benefit.
The survey, performed by Joshua Blank of the Texas Politics Project, was commissioned by former Travis County Auditor Susan Spataro, who has expressed concern over the way the city and Precourt Sports Ventures – owners of the Columbus Crew soccer club that is attempting to move to Austin – have engaged in negotiations over the McKalla Place property near the Domain.
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Central Texas school officials’ reaction mixed on Abbott’s safety plan (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Central Texas school district officials offered mixed reviews of Gov. Greg Abbott’s school security plan, with many applauding his suggestions to improve mental health services but not embracing his idea to arm more teachers with guns.
Already grappling with dwindling state education spending in recent years and with no long-term funding allocated for Abbott’s plan, district officials also said they were concerned about paying for security upgrades.
“While we applaud the spirit of the governor’s intent … we are operating under a school finance system that’s undeniably broken and doesn’t account for the provision of basic educational services at today’s costs for all students, let alone support costs for mental health, safety and security needs,” said Nicole Conley Johnson, Austin school district’s chief financial officer.
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City wants to put the word out about affordable housing (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

What is an “affordable unit”? Who qualifies for one? And above all else, where are these units, and how do you get one?
A resolution approved unanimously on Thursday by the City Council Housing and Planning Committee asks city staff to develop a program to connect low-income tenants to available income-restricted units.
The resolution suggests a number of strategies for connecting with those who might benefit from the program, such as encouraging government agencies and nonprofits that serve low-income populations to refer clients to the housing program. It also asks city staff to explore ways to incentivize or require landlords with income-restricted units to provide notice to the city when one of the units becomes available.
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Advocates aim to sway rural Texans with ‘new face’ of medical pot (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

With the sound off, images from a new advocacy video touting the merits of medical marijuana could blend seamlessly into a commercial for the latest model of pickup – a burly Texan, clad in a cowboy hat, strides past bales of freshly cut hay, tinkers with a tractor and even feeds a horse. The similarity is no coincidence.
Proponents of loosening marijuana prohibitions in the state are mounting a concerted effort to take their message to West Texas and other predominately rural regions of the state. That’s because they concluded in the wake of last year’s legislative session that support among lawmakers had less to do with political affiliation than with the proximity of their districts to major urban centers.
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After Santa Fe, 54 percent of Texas parents support arming teachers, poll says (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Fifty-four percent of Texas parents who have children in public schools support arming teachers and other school officials, according to polling numbers from Quinnipiac University released Thursday. Meanwhile, a plurality of registered voters — 49 percent — support stricter gun laws, according to the poll. That number is down from 55 percent who said they favored stricter gun laws in a Quinnipiac poll on April 19.
Forty-five percent of voters oppose stricter gun laws — up from 41 percent in April, according to the poll. The new polling was conducted after a deadly school shooting May 18 at Santa Fe High School, south of Houston, left 10 people dead and 13 more injured. The data was collected before Republican Gov. Greg Abbott rolled out a school safety plan in a pair of televised appearances Wednesday. Much of Abbott’s plan revolves around bolstering an existing state program for arming some school staff.
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Blue Cross agrees to delay controversial change to emergency room claim process (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is delaying the rollout of a controversial change to how it will evaluate emergency room claims for members holding HMO policies. The new process was set to take effect June 4 but will now be delayed for 60 days, according to the Texas Department of Insurance, which has been in discussions with the health insurer and continues to have questions about how consumers would be able to appeal denied claims.
“When you’re facing an unknown situation at 2 o’clock in the morning, you need to be able to act quickly,” said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Insurance.
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5th Circuit temporarily halts implementation of online voter registration system (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday tapped the brakes on a lower court ruling that required Texas to quickly install an online voter registration system, temporarily blocking a San Antonio judge’s mandate that the state implement the program within 45-days comply with the national “Motor Voter Act.” The decision to halt the lower U.S. district court’s ruling puts the future of an online voter registration system in jeopardy as the November general election nears. It is unclear how soon the New Orleans-based circuit court will rule on the merits of the case, meaning the legal proceedings could drag on for months.
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White House to Impose Metal Tariffs on Key U.S. Allies, Risking Retaliation (New York Times) LINK TO STORY

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would impose steep tariffs on metals imported from its closest allies, provoking retaliation against American businesses and consumers and further straining diplomatic ties tested by the president’s combative approach. The European Union, Canada and Mexico, which will face 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, quickly denounced the action and drew up lists of tit-for-tat measures, many aimed at parts of the United States where President Trump enjoys his strongest political support.
The move follows months of uncertainty as the Trump administration dangled potential exemptions for allies in return for concessions on other fronts. In moving forward with tariffs on national security grounds, the administration now faces a crucial test of whether its aggressive strategy will extract promises from trading partners or end up backfiring on the United States economy.
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Trump claims he did not fire Comey over Russia (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

President Trump claimed Thursday he did not fire former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation, despite his prior statements that the issue contributed to Comey’s firing. "Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia! The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!" he tweeted.
Trump appeared to be referring to a New York Times report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the president initially asked him to reference Russia in his memo justifying Comey’s firing, which centered on the FBI chief’s handling of the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
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