BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 4, 2019)
NEW -> Episode 55: Exploring Austin's Commercial Tenant Market with JLL's Bre Brown (LINK TO SHOW)
APD Chief Manley Suggests Reinstating Bans On Camping And Resting In Public While New Rules Are Worked Out(KUT)
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said police are going to retool how they enforce laws that prohibit obstruction of sidewalks and public spaces and that he has asked the city to revert back to old rules on homelessness while it considers revising ordinances passed in June.
At a press conference Thursday, Manley said APD is issuing guidelines to better enforce the ordinance that bans completely obstructing a sidewalk – what used to be known as the sit-lie ordinance – specifically as it relates to access in the downtown area.
The chief also responded to the political back-and-forth surrounding the city's decision to rollback rules that previously banned camping and resting in public. In a letter to Mayor Steve Adler on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott threatened state intervention if "meaningful reforms are not implemented" by Nov. 1… (LINK TO STORY)
After More Than A Yearlong Hiatus, Austin's Code Rewrite Returns. How Did We Get Here? (KUT)
The City of Austin is unveiling a new version of its land development code Friday, the latest in an eight-year and more than $10 million process.
A land code determines what can be built and where it can go. Austin hasn’t rewritten its entire code since 1984.
But this process, which began in 2012, has taken longer than elected officials expected. Austin has had two mayoral elections since this began. The city has a whole new system of local governance. The median cost of renting has risen by nearly 35%… (LINK TO STORY)
Council expands pilot program providing employment for homeless (Austin Monitor)
On Thursday City Council authorized $720,000 from the city budget to fund an additional year of the growing Workforce First program, which offers temporary work opportunities and supportive services to individuals experiencing homelessness. The money will be drawn from the operating budgets of Austin Resource Recovery, Austin Public Health, Parks and Recreation, and the Watershed Protection departments, all of which allocated funds in the recently passed Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget for this purpose.
This past year, the 13-month Workforce First pilot program, consisting of one work crew, provided cleanup services for parks around South Austin. Having exceeded its initial goals, Workforce First will now expand to three work crews and will deploy cleanup crews in North Austin as well… (LINK TO STORY)
California allowed NCAA athletes to earn money, Texas lawmaker will try something similar (KXAN - NBC)
A Republican Chairman in the Texas House of Representatives wants to allow NCAA athletes in the state to get paid. This comes after the California Governor signed into law a bill allowing athletes to hire agents, get sponsorships and get paid when people use their likenesses.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever said this before, but the California Governor absolutely got this one right,” wrote Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, on Twitter. “I plan on working on similar legislation here in Texas that frees our collegiate athletes & allows them to earn money from the use of their own names, images & likenesses.” Rep. Leach is a member of House leadership, chairing the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence… (LINK TO STORY)
For Texas growers, hemp might not live up to hype (Austin American-Statesman)
If farmers could harvest hype, they might have a bumper crop from a newly legal commodity in Texas — hemp — before the first plants are in the ground. Widely circulated profit figures for hemp, a nonpsychoactive cousin of marijuana with a multitude of potential consumer and commercial uses, are eye-popping, ranging from $5,000 an acre and up.
That would be well above the couple of hundred dollars per acre for cotton or grain sorghum that Texas growers clear in a good year. Such numbers, as well as a rare opportunity in the agricultural sector to get in on the ground floor of a new industry, have been enticing farmers, ranchers and many other Texans who simply have a spare plot of land to turn out for hemp-related conferences and informational meetings statewide, after Texas lawmakers legalized hemp four months ago… (LINK TO STORY)
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions announces campaign for open Bill Flores seat (Texas Tribune)
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions formally launched his campaign Thursday to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, opting against running again in his old Dallas-based district and pressing forward in Flores' seat despite some local Republican unease.
"My goal is to work together to restore the Republican majority in the House and maintain our control of the Senate and White House," Sessions said in a news release Thursday afternoon. "My support for President Trump is unwavering and I will dedicate my time in office to help enact his conservative agenda.”
Later in the afternoon, Sessions held an announcement event at the McLennan County GOP headquarters in Waco, where he railed against Democrats who he said have gone "completely left," and promised to be "vigorous" in his campaign.
Sessions lost reelection last year to Dallas Democrat Collin Allred, who defeated Sessions by 7 percentage points. Sessions spent months toying with a rematch in the 32nd District until emerging Tuesday as a likely contender for Flores' seat, which is about 80 miles south of the 32nd Congressional District and in more safely Republican territory… (LINK TO STORY)
Army Futures Command to provide $65 million for Texas A&M test facilities (Austin American-Statesman)
Continuing to grow its presence in Texas, the Austin-based Army Futures Command said Wednesday it will provide $65 million to the Texas A&M University System to support military research operations on a College Station campus.
The money is part of a multi-million-dollar plan to make Texas A&M’s 2,000-acre RELLIS campus the Army’s main hub for testing and evaluating its future-of-war technologies. (RELLIS is an acronym for the six Aggie core values of respect, excellence, leadership, loyalty, integrity and selfless service.) The Army Futures Command, a public-private initiative that will lead modernization projects for the Army, is the largest reorganization of the military branch in decades. The Army in 2018 chose Austin as the site for the new center… (LINK TO STORY)
Rick Perry planning to step down as energy secretary by year end (Texas Tribune)
Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to step down from his post by the end of the year, according to four individuals briefed on his plans, making him one of roughly a dozen Cabinet members to leave their post during President Trump’s administration.
Perry will likely return to the private sector, one of these individuals said. All four spoke on the condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.
The former Texas governor, who has touted fossil fuels but also research into alternative energy since taking office, has not enacted the same sweeping policy changes as his counterparts at the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Politico first reported Thursday night that Perry planned to leave by the end of November… (LINK TO STORY)
At event with Ivanka Trump, Google's CEO pledges $3.5 million to expand tech training for American workers (Dallas Morning News)
With first daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump by his side, Google CEO Sundar Pichai signed a pledge Thursday in Dallas that the company will boost its investment in tech skills training for American workers.
The Silicon Valley-based company said it will create 250,000 education opportunities over the next five years and invest $3.5 million to expand one of its online training programs to 100 community colleges. It is one of more than 350 companies to sign on to Pledge to America's Workers, a White House initiative to encourage the private sector to help close the gap between skills they seek in employees and those that job candidates have… (LINK TO STORY)