BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 16, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 52- The Internet of Things and Austin Tech Philanthropy with Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle (LINK TO SHOW)


TxDOT funds I-35 expansion projects, but not through Central Austin (Austin American-Statesman)

The Texas Department of Transportation has agreed to fully fund the construction of new lanes on two portions of Interstate 35 through Travis County as part of a recently approved 10-year plan. However, it has yet to figure out how to pay for improvements on the most congested portion of the highway through Central Austin.

The Texas Transportation Commission recently approved the 2020 Unified Transportation Program, which allocates $77 billion in state and federal funds to thousands of highway, aviation, rail and public transportation projects across the state. Included in the plan is $700 million to add non-tolled, managed lanes to portions of I-35 north and south of downtown Austin… (LINK TO STORY)

Eyeing hotel tax dollars, Music Commission signs on to support convention center (Austin Monitor)

With City Council set to consider two items on Thursday related to the proposed expansion of the Austin Convention Center, the Austin Music Commission voted last week to support the plan, which is projected to cost more than $1 billion from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax funds.

At the 7-2 vote, commission members Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone and Anne-Charlotte Patterson voted against the show of support for the Council vote in May that precipitated a handful of recent resolutions involving allocation and taxation amounts for the hotel tax.

Much of the discussion on the matter centered around proposed new funding for the commercial music industry – expected to start at just over $3 million annually – that could flow from the hotel tax… (LINK TO STORY)


Beto O'Rourke looks to reactivate suburban strength in Texas (Texas Tribune)

The photo line for Beto O’Rourke here Saturday afternoon quickly turned into something of a reunion.

“Hey, I know who you are!" a characteristically sweat-drenched O'Rourke told one supporter. After talking to another, O'Rourke yelled out to an aide: "Hey, someone who worked on the campaign wants to be plugged in again!"

The vibe was similar a day later in Plano, where O'Rourke rallied in front of signs reading, "Welcome to Beto Country," serving up nostalgia from his near-miss loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last year. He said the Senate race was the "only reason" he got to run for president, touting the support he built in Collin, Denton, Tarrant and Dallas counties before getting drowned out by cheers… (LINK TO STORY)

Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat, announces his retirement (Texas Tribune)

State Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat, announced Friday that he will not seek reelection to the upper chamber in 2020.

Rodriguez informed El Paso colleagues of his decision in a text late Thursday night that was obtained by The Texas Tribune. He made the announcement official at his district office.

"I started my tenure in the Senate with one of the worst budgets in the state’s modern history," Rodríguez said in a written announcement on his retirement. "Fortunately, my last session was one where state leaders finally gave long overdue attention to our public schools."… (LINK TO STORY)

Company announces $14 billion deal to build Texas Bullet Train, but is still long way from the end of the line (Houston Chronicle)

A planned high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas reached another milestone Friday as the sponsoring company announced a $14 billion deal to build it — as soon as it obtains the authority to do so.

Texas Central, the private company developing the Texas Bullet Train, announced it had signed a deal with Salini Impregilo, the Italian construction giant, and its American subsidiary, Lane Construction, to design, construct and install the 240-mile high-speed rail line using Japan’s Shinkansen trains. The deal is valued at $14 billion and is contingent on a number of factors and decisions, ranging from federal approvals to raising billions from private investors. Still, the announcement is the most concrete step toward construction of the train — expected to whisk travelers to and from Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes with a stop in the Brazos Valley… (LINK TO STORY)


Saudi oil attack is the big one for energy market (Wall Street Journal)

Saturday’s attack on a critical Saudi oil facility will almost certainly rock the world energy market in the short term, but it also carries disturbing long-term implications. Ever since the dual 1970s oil crises, energy security officials have fretted about a deliberate strike on one of the critical choke points of energy production and transport. Sea lanes such as the Strait of Hormuz usually feature in such speculation.

The facility in question at Abqaiq is perhaps more critical and vulnerable. The Wall Street Journal reported that 5.7 million barrels a day of output, or some 5% of world supply, had been taken offline as a result. To illustrate the importance of Abqaiq in the oil market’s consciousness, an unsuccessful terrorist attack in 2006 using explosive-laden vehicles sent oil prices more than $2.00 a barrel higher. Saudi Arabia is known to spend billions of dollars annually protecting ports, pipelines and processing facilities, and it is the only major oil producer to maintain some spare output… (LINK TO STORY)

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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