BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 26, 2019)
Development code vote kicked down the road (Austin Monitor)
City staffers are not quite in the clear to officially start work drafting a new Land Development Code. City Council was preparing to make a vote this week that would provide direction to City Manager Spencer Cronk regarding the code, but that vote had still not come up by the time Council adjourned its meeting at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Despite members’ inexhaustible tendency to plunge into the details of the city’s housing and transportation policies, Council managed to keep a bird’s-eye view long enough to approve a preliminary document of responses to the five questions in Cronk’s memo regarding the new code. (Cronk’s memo addressed housing types and capacity, parking and standards regulating what types of buildings can be built in proximity to one another.)… (LINK TO STORY)
Parks and Recreation lacks $2.4 million in funding, potentially faces more cuts (Austin Monitor)
As the question of property tax caps continues to loom in the state Legislature, city departments are wrestling to pare down their budgets in anticipation of what management expects to be a $51.7 million gap in funding for the entire city by 2022 (estimate made per 2.5 percent rollback rate).
For the Parks and Recreation Department, this mandated pruning means only a $4.5 million increase in the budget for 2020 to fund some critical unmet needs.
Parks and Recreation Board members who were listening to the April 23 presentation of the PARD budget unanimously recommended that City Council approve the funding of $2.4 million in unmet department costs as well as additional lighting in parks and increasing park ranger staff commensurate with national best practices for like-sized communities… (LINK TO STORY)
Dallas joins Austin, San Antonio in requiring employers to offer paid sick leave (Dallas Morning News)
All Dallas employers would have to provide paid sick leave for employees under an ordinance approved Wednesday by the City Council. Clergy members, labor and community organizations had pushed for the measure — primarily aimed at service jobs — as a way to help low-income working families who don’t have the time-off benefits enjoyed by many higher-income workers.
Dallas will join Austin and San Antonio as the only major Texas cities to require sick leave if the ordinance stands. But that’s a big if, because the Legislature is weighing whether to kill such local mandates, which some groups say would be overly burdensome to businesses. The ordinance is set to go into effect Aug. 1 for businesses with 15 or more employees. Smaller businesses are to have until Aug. 1, 2021… (LINK TO STORY)
House committee passes Senate property tax bill — after altering it to look more like the lower chamber's version (Texas Tribune)
Blasting the Senate for taking a symbolic approach on school district taxes, a panel of House lawmakers heavily altered then approved the upper chamber’s version ofpriority property tax legislation late Thursday. And committee members pointedly included a provision meant to rebut claims that they were not committed to wholesale reform.
The chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means committee, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, said the House had kept a provision in Senate Bill 2 that attempts to constrain school district property taxes. While he and finance experts have said the language needs to be addressed in the Education Code, there “is an intent in the Senate to symbolically express that they are committed to lowering school property taxes,” Burrows said.
“Well, because of that, I want to make sure that the House also expresses its full commitment to lowering people’s property tax bills related to schools,” the Lubbock Republican said… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas marijuana bill gets a serious mellow — but high penalties for possession could still come down (Dallas Morning News)
A bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in Texas has been substantially rewritten -- on the day before its scheduled debate -- to increase its chances of becoming law.
As proposed, House Bill 63 would have removed the current penalty for getting caught with an ounce or less of marijuana and replaced it with a $250 fine. But late Wednesday, Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed an amended version of the legislation. The new version would lessen penalties for possession of small amounts of pot, instead of removing them altogether, while making it easier to avoid a criminal record… (LINK TO STORY)
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas Law That Bars Contractors From Boycotting Israel (KUT)
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Texas law that requires people contracting with the state to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.
The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pittman stems from a lawsuit filed by a speech pathologist with the Pflugerville Independent School District whose contract was terminated after she refused to sign a document stating she would not boycott Israel.
According to court documents, Bahia Amawi, a U.S. citizen of Palestinian origin, said she participates in the boycott movement because she's an advocate for "Palestinian human rights and justice."… (LINK TO STORY)
Joe Biden announces 2020 run for President (New York Times)
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced Thursday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump in 2020, marshaling his experience and global stature in a bid to lead a party increasingly defined by a younger generation that might be skeptical of his age and ideological moderation.
Mr. Biden, 76, is set to offer himself as a levelheaded leader for a country wracked by political conflict, a rationale he believes could attract a broad cross-section of voters who want to move on from Mr. Trump. In a three-and-a-half minute video laying out his reasons for running, Mr. Biden chose not to talk about policy issues or his biography but instead began by recalling the white supremacist march through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and a counterprotest, and Mr. Trump’s comment that there were “very fine people on both sides.” In that moment, Mr. Biden said, “I knew the threat to our nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Hundreds Of People At 2 LA Universities Quarantined Due To Measles Exposure (NPR)
Hundreds of students and faculty at two universities in Los Angeles have been asked to stay home unless they can prove that they've been vaccinated against measles.
The LA campuses of the University of California and California State University imposed the quarantine after they became aware of people infected with measles who had potentially exposed hundreds. At UCLA, a student exposed at least 500 people earlier this month; at Cal State, someone with measles went to a library and encountered hundreds.
UCLA was notified by the LA County Department of Public Health that one of its students had contracted measles. After identifying people the infected student might have come in contact with while contagious, the school asked them to provide proof of immunization. On Wednesday, 119 people who couldn't provide proof were quarantined… (LINK TO STORY)
BG Podcast Episode 43: A Palm School Discussion with Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña
On today’s episode Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña, and CEO A.J. Bingham update on discussions around Austin’s Palm School.
Located at Cesar Chavez and I-35, Palm School was Austin’s second elementary school, and served generations of students from the city’s Mexican-American community during its 84 years.
Travis County is considering whether to put the building up for sale or a long-term lease, and there are some who don't want its cultural history gone.