BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 29, 2019)



Austin’s 5G prep continues to trail behind other cities (Austin American-Statesman)

Devices enabled for 5G technology are beginning to appear throughout global markets, prompting telecommunication companies in the United States to prepare connection networks in major metro areas. In Austin, which is usually ahead of the technology curve, the prep work continues to lag behind that of other cities.

While city officials in the past six months have made progress in adapting Austin for the next generation of wireless technology, Austin still lags behind Dallas, Houston and other metros in gearing up for the service. A slow-moving permit approval process in Austin for 5G connection devices has for some time put the area behind the curve for a technology expected to not only power the next wave of smartphones but also other devices of the future. The difference now is that 5G is no longer a concept, but a product being implemented… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast episode 24: Bob Digneo, Assistant Vice President- External and Regulatory Affairs at AT&T

Austin ISD trustees consider $30 million in cuts (Austin Chronicle)

Despite the positive vibes surrounding school finance at the Capitol, Austin ISD is still considering about $30 million in cuts to its operating budget for the 2019-20 school year.

Most of that stems from expected vacancies in the next school year ($8 million) and projected enrollment declines ($3.4 million), along with $8.5 million in savings from administrative reworking of how health care is distributed; another $1 million could come from a controversial proposed change to the amount of pay employees receive during extended leave… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 38: Nicole Conley- Austin ISD CFO

Zoning for affordable housing wins initial approval (Austin Monitor)

With Council Member Greg Casar leading the way, Council voted unanimously Thursday to give first-round approval to rezoning a tract at 916 and 918 Norwood Park Blvd. for 228 affordable housing units in District 4.

Members of the Heritage Hills Woodbridge Neighborhood Association were initially opposed to the project, which did not match the vision of a mixed-use property as seen in the neighborhood plan, and had gathered enough signatures for a valid petition.

However, Courtney Graham, president of the neighborhood group, told Council that neighbors changed their position “after Council Member Casar used his incredible mediation skills” to get agreement from the developer for a list of items that would make the project more attractive to the neighborhood… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas House moves to expand alcohol sales on Sundays and at breweries (Texas Tribune)

The Texas House voted Thursday to extend beer and wine sales on Sundays and to let craft breweries sell beer to go.

Those new expansions of alcohol sales were amendments to a broader bill regarding the efficiency and operations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that must pass this legislative session in order to avoid shutting down the agency.

Both amendments were opposed by the bill’s author, state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall. Paddie still cast a vote for the legislation, which received preliminary passage along a 135-0 vote, though he noted that the bill was no longer "completely clean."… (LINK TO STORY)

Texas Legislature may be headed soon to high-stakes showdown on property taxes, schools (Dallas Morning News)

A showdown is coming over school finance and property tax overhauls, the Legislature's top priorities this year. In the next week and a half, the Senate likely will debate a proposed revamp of how Texas funds public schools, while the House is expected to take up a measure designed to curb spiraling property tax bills. The chambers' deliberations might even occur at the same time.

In tone and body language, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Property Tax Committee Chairman Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, have emphasized property tax constraints as their top priority. Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and his leadership team have signaled a school-finance fix is nearest and dearest to their hearts. Three times in just over two weeks, the House has postponed floor consideration of House Bill 2, the property tax legislation… (LINK TO STORY)

Paxton’s office ‘disappointed’ in Israel boycott ruling; state to appeal injunction (Austin American-Statesman)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office says it will appeal a ruling from a federal judge in Austin who issued a temporary injunction Thursday that bars the state from enforcing a controversial 2-year-old law that prohibits government contract workers from boycotting Israel.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman’s ruling sided with speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job with the Pflugerville school district in October when she refused to certify that she does not boycott Israel and would not do so for the remainder of her contract. Amawi, a 46-year-old Palestinian from Round Rock, testified in Pitman’s court last month that she refuses to buy products made by Israeli companies because of the mistreatment she says the country has shown to her and her relatives… (LINK TO STORY)

Joaquin Castro's U.S. Senate deliberations baffle state and national Democrats (Texas Tribune)

From the nation’s capitol to the state capitol, the scuttlebutt was that Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro would announce within days — if not hours — his campaign for U.S. Senate.

That was four weeks ago.

Back then, practically everyone in politics assumed his challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was inevitable. More than a handful of political allies rushed to publicly and privately add their political clout to his potential campaign, with the belief that a long-pined-for statewide Castro campaign would be unstoppable.

Now, over a dozen Texas and national Democrats say they are increasingly skeptical that Castro will run at all… (LINK TO STORY)


Court Orders Administration To Identify Separated Migrant Children Within 6 Months (KUT)

Until the Trump administration changed its practice last year, the government had quietly separated thousands of children from parents trying to cross into the country at the southern border — in the process, sometimes losing track of where exactly those children went, and to whom they belong.

On Thursday a federal judge gave the administration six months to figure it out.

The administration had said it hoped to identify the children within six months, but it opposed a specific deadline in case finding the children took longer than expected. The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of parents who had been separated from their children, pushed for a hard deadline… (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.

Check out Episode 43 here!

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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