BG Reads | News You Need to Know (July 17, 2019)
Travis County Commissioners Adopt Transportation Blueprint For Next 30 Years (KUT)
For the first time, Travis County has a long-range plan focused solely on transportation. The Travis County Commissioners Court adopted the Transportation Blueprint on Tuesday, after years of public input and research of safety considerations and demographic trends.
Staff members with the county’s Department of Transportation and Natural Resources had surveyed people about transportation in the region. While gridlock topped the list of concerns, officials were surprised to see what led the list of possible solutions.
“Believe it or not, it was not 'build more roads'; it was 'improve traffic management,'” said Scheleen Walker, long-range planning director for the department. “Folks here are very savvy. They know how to get improvements more quickly to ease congestion.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Hays County to join second legal action against Permian Highway Pipeline (Community Impact)
Hays County is taking a second legal action related to the Permian Highway Pipeline—and not giving up on the first.
Commissioners voted July 16 to join the Travis Audubon Society and several private plaintiffs in filing a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kinder Morgan—the company developing the project—in relation to the planned natural gas pipeline’s potential disruption of endangered species habitat.
At the same meeting, the court agreed to support the appeal of its previous lawsuit against the Texas Railroad Commission, which takes issue with the public process around oil and gas pipelines and was recently dismissed in Travis County District Court.
The new legal action—a notice of intent to sue must be filed 60 days before a lawsuit can be formally brought over the Endangered Species Act—in response to the 430-mile, 42-inch natural gas conduit cites what it refers to as Kinder Morgan’s “thinly-veiled attempt to avoid obtaining the necessary federal permits” that allow it to pass through habitat belonging to the golden-cheeked warbler, a federally protected endangered species.… (LINK TO STORY)
New Braunfels’ urban redevelopment plan gains momentum (Austin Business Journal)
An idea floated by New Braunfels leaders two years ago to redevelop a key part of that city’s downtown is moving closer to reality. And the pursuit of the project is drawing more private-sector interest that could lead to greater urban change some 30 miles northeast of San Antonio.
The South Castell Avenue master plan — which would span 10 acres and convert several properties into a mix of hotel, housing, office and retail spaces — was unveiled by New Braunfels leaders in summer 2017. Michael Meek, president of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and one of the plan’s staunchest supporters, said stakeholders have made significant progress on multiple fronts since then… (LINK TO STORY)
Most Texas Republicans vote against U.S. House resolution condemning Trump for racist tweet (Texas Tribune)
Congressional Texans largely voted along party lines Tuesday night as the U.S. House passed a resolution to condemn President Donald Trump for his tweets over the weekend suggesting four Democratic members of Congress — all women of color — should "go back" to "where they came from."
All but one Texas Republican present for the vote — U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes — voted against the measure, while Democrats were unanimous in their support.
At issue were comments in which the president said the U.S. representatives ought to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places where they came from." The comments were universally interpreted as referring to U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan… (LINK TO STORY)
Beto O’Rourke still top Texan in donations despite Q2 skid, but Julián Castro shows momentum (Dallas Morning News)
Julián Castro's fundraising accelerated in the last three months, and the $2.8 million haul he touted on Monday more than doubled the donations he took in during the early months of his bid for president.
A remarkable 40% of that came in the four days after the first Democratic primary debate, in which Castro attacked fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke for failing to do his homework on border policy. O'Rourke's fundraising pace, meanwhile, plummeted. He raised $3.8 million from April to the end of June, but that was not even as much as he raised in the first 24 hours of his campaign. And it amounted to about a third of what he'd raised in his first month… (LINK TO STORY)
Gov. Greg Abbott raised $12 million in two weeks. He won’t face re-election until 2022. (Sa Antonio Express-News)
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reported raising $12 million in a two-week period after the legislative session ended, an eye-popping sum for a governor who doesn’t face reelection until 2022.
Abbott’s campaign says it now has more than $26 million in cash on hand, which he can use in the 2020 election cycle, when all 150 state House members and roughly half of state Senators are up for reelection. Democrats are targeting Texas seeking to build on their gains in 2018, when the party flipped 14 seats in the Texas Legislature… (LINK TO STORY)
Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, A Maverick On The Bench, Dies At 99 (NPR)
Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, whose Supreme Court opinions transformed many areas of American law during his 34 year tenure, died at the age of 99 in in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., of complications following a stroke he suffered Monday.
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Stevens' death in a statement from the Supreme Court.
"A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court," Roberts said in the statement. "He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family."… (LINK TO STORY)
We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:
Episode 28: Rodney Gonzales- Director of Austin’s Development Services Department (DSD)
Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Rodney Gonzales, then Director of Austin’s Development Services Department (DSD). The department was created in 2015 to handle residential and commercial permitting issues separately from zoning issues.
Rodney discusses his background and path to DSD, and current department initiatives with Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham. . (LINK TO SHOW)
REGULATION: POTENTIAL NEW WATER UTILITY REQUIREMENTS BEING FORMULATED FOR COUNCIL CONSIDERATION THIS FALL
As reported previously here, the City of Austin is exploring potential requirements that would mandate that
New developments submit water balance applications;
Developments over 250,000 square feet use alternative and onsite waters to meet indoor and outdoor non-potable water demands.
The timeline is particularly quick as City staff is working to develop proposed ordinance language by this fall… (LINK TO BLOG)