BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 19, 2019)
Yep. A lot more people have moved to Austin, the Census Bureau confirms. (Austin Monitor)
New numbers out today from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm something you’ve definitely noticed or complained about in the last eight years: Austin is growing.
But that growth isn’t confined to the Austin area.
The data put Texas counties and metro areas in the top 10 of all measures for population growth over the last year – and in the time since the last census, according to the numbers released today. Harris, Collin, Tarrant and Bexar counties were among the top 10 counties that saw the largest population growth last year. Harris County added 605,000 people in 2018 – the most in the U.S.
Sandra Johnson, a demographer with the Census Bureau, says that’s been the case in Texas since 2010… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin Energy buys biomass plant for $460M (Austin Monitor)
Austin Energy will, in fact, be purchasing the Nacogdoches Generating Facility for $460 million. Buying the East Texas biomass power plant is the city-owned utility’s way out of a controversial$2.3 billion contract that has been under intense scrutiny over the past few years. The 20-year contract has lost Austin Energy an estimated $54 million annually, due to changes in the market that have made other energy sources a far cheaper deal.
That cost was acknowledged in a news release from the utility, which estimated the move will save Austin Energy about $275 million overall. AE is expected to close the deal in the next couple of months, and no immediate changes to the operation of the biomass plant are expected. Husch Blackwell will serve as AE’s outside legal counsel for the purchase.
“Saving $275 million is a great result!” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “We play the hand we’re dealt, and here it means we’ll be able to provide value for our customers and maintain leadership on renewable sources of power. We’ve been working since I got into office to get a better financial deal around the biomass plant.”
Council Member Jimmy Flannigan also weighed in on the deal, releasing a statement praising the purchase of the plant… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin metro has sixth-highest concentration of STEM jobs in U.S., report says (Community Impact)
Sitting behind metros such as San Francisco, Seattle and San Jose, and ahead of Denver and Boston, the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area has the sixth-highest concentration of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, jobs in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies 100 different jobs under the STEM category, ranging from computer, mathematical, architectural and engineering jobs to life and physical sciences and managerial and college teaching positions in these areas, the report says. Sales jobs that require technical and scientific knowledge gained in postsecondary education also qualify.
In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, 113,700 of the roughly 1 million jobs are STEM occupations, accounting for roughly 11% of the workforce. San Jose has the highest concentration at 21% of its workforce, while Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Raleigh; and San Francisco round out the top five, according to an April 9 Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce report that laid out the data… (LINK TO STORY)
Energy Secretary Rick Perry planning his departure (Bloomberg)
Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration and is finalizing the terms and timing of his departure, according to two people familiar with his plans.
While Perry’s exit isn’t imminent and one person familiar with the matter said the former Texas governor still hasn’t fully made up his mind, three people said he has been seriously considering his departure for weeks. All of the people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. An Energy Department spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, rejected the idea that Perry would be leaving the administration any time soon. “He is happy where he is serving President Trump and leading the Department of Energy,” she said in a statement… (LINK TO STORY)
Joaquin Castro says decision on Senate race coming soon, possibly by May 1 (Houston Chronicle)
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said he still has not made a decision on whether he will run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2020. Castro, the 44-year-old San Antonio Democrat, pointed out that in past races he’s made a decision by May 1.
As Castro weighed his decision, other prominent Democrats have said they, too, are looking at jumping into the race. MJ Hegar, a former U.S. Air Force helicopter pilot, has said on social media that she is considering making a bid. When asked about Hegar on Wednesday, Castro spoke more generally about how competitive primaries are likely going to be the norm in Texas politics. “I think probably the era of uncontested primaries in both parties in Texas is over,” Castro said… (LINK TO STORY)
Empower Texans sues GOP legislative foe citing free speech rights (Austin American-Statesman)
A prominent conservative political group is suing a Republican member of the Texas House, claiming that he unfairly denied the group a media credential.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Austin, Empower Texans accuses Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, chairman of the Committee on House Administration, of “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination” and the trampling of free speech and free press rights. Other plaintiffs include Brandon Waltens and Destin Sensky, correspondents for Texas Scorecard, described in the lawsuit as the news magazine of Empower Texans… (LINK TO STORY)
Mueller report will be lightly redacted, revealing detailed look at obstruction of justice investigation (Washington Post)
The Justice Department plans to release a lightly redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 400-page report Thursday, offering a granular look at the ways in which President Trump was suspected of having obstructed justice, people familiar with the matter said.
The report — the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the White House on — will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and because some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, these people said. But it will offer a detailed blow-by-blow of the president’s alleged conduct — analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller’s inquiry, they added… (LINK TO STORY)
Judge Upholds Mandatory Measles Vaccinations As New York Closes More Schools (KUT)
A Brooklyn judge has sided with New York health officials to uphold a mandatory measles vaccinations order, dismissing a lawsuit from a group of parents who claimed the city had overstepped its authority.
Judge Lawrence Knipel on Thursday refused parents' request to lift the vaccination order that was imposed last week to stem a severe measles outbreak. "A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire," Knipel wrote in his ruling as quoted by Gothamist. "Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion."
On the same day, the city announced that it was closing four more schools and issuing three civil summons for parents who had failed to comply with the mandate… (LINK TO STORY)
BG Podcast Episode 42: A Startup Conversation with Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim
On today’s episode we speak with Easy Expunctions CEO and Founder Yousef Kassim.
Easy Expunctions is a San Antonio-based legal technology start up providing background check and expunction/nondisclosure services.
Their legal records search algorithms allow clients to know what (if any) charges they have against them, and what can be expunged.
Additionally, they provide the necessary legal forms and filing instructions directly to the client. The overall process provides a significant savings to the client (in the thousands) as well as empowering people who may not have experience with the court system.
In April 2018 they won Austin-based Capital Factory's $100,000 Startup Challenge. As part of the package, the firm received space at Capital Factory (located in downtown Austin)...