BG Reads | News You Need to Know (May 6, 2019)



County leaders denounce anti-lobbying proposal (Austin Monitor)

In addition to imposing strict constraints on local governments’ ability to raise property tax revenue, Republicans at the state Legislature want to limit how those governments can spend their tax dollars. A number of bills have been filed this session that… (LINK TO STORY)

RECA, Austin Chamber react to City Council's big leap forward on revising land development code (Austin Business Journal)

Time will tell, but Austin's big step on land use reform is getting an early warm reception from major players in the business community.

No one yet has the complete document outlining the policy guidance from Austin City Council on a revised land development code— city staff still need to sort through all the amendments passed on April 25 and May 2 to produce a polished document.

But, at least initially, real estate groups and business leaders say there's a lot to like with what Council wants drafted in a new code, seen as a crucial way for the city to modernize and keep up with growth… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin’s Firefly Aerospace moves closer to making its mark on space travel (Austin American-Statesman)

Before NASA propelled Firefly Aerospace onto the national stage in November, the space travel company was a little-known startup in the Austin metro area.

That’s quickly changing.

In the six months since NASA named Firefly as one of nine companies competing to help the space agency return to the moon, Firefly has take major steps in its goal to launch its first rocket. The company has reached rocket-building milestones, established a launch site in Florida and been featured at major technology events.

Executives say the work is paving the way for Firefly to launch its flagship rocket into space by the end of the year -- and for the technology to eventually become an important tool for NASA or other agencies.

“There are over 100 companies that want to build the rockets we want to,” Firefly executive Les Kovacs said. “So we want to get out there and start public outreach efforts and get elected officials aware of what we can do.”… (LINK TO STORY)


Dallas, San Antonio mayoral races set for runoffs as Fort Worth mayor wins re-election (Texas Tribune)

The Dallas mayoral race is headed to a runoff, while San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg was forced into an overtime round and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price easily won re-election.

That is according to unofficial returns Saturday night for the mayoral elections in three of Texas' largest cities, representing a combined 3.7 million people. All precincts were reporting in Dallas and Fort Worth, while all but a few were reporting in San Antonio.

The runoffs will be June 8… (LINK TO STORY)

Session likely to end with little change to Texas marijuana laws (Austin American-Statesman)

Advocates for easing marijuana prohibitions in Texas have waged a fierce battle this year, becoming mainstays at the Capitol while lobbying lawmakers, mobilizing for public hearings and pushing successfully for the first vote on the House floor to reduce pot penalties in more than four decades.

When time runs out on the legislative session in three weeks, however, the state’s reputation as a prominent holdout amid the national legalization movement is likely to remain intact. “It appears apparent today that (marijuana proponents) don’t have the support” among lawmakers for major inroads, said A.J. Louderback, legislative director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, which backs strict anti-cannabis laws. “Anything is possible during the session for something to gain traction and move, but I think it is going to be a long shot” as the clock ticks down… (LINK TO STORY)

After Supreme Court ruling, Texas bills would bring in $850 million in online sales tax (Texas Tribune)

Texans who shop online could soon see purchase prices go up — filling the state treasury by roughly a half-billion dollars over the next two years — thanks to a proposed new sales tax levy on out-of-state sellers.

A pair of bills unanimously advanced by the Texas Senate on Friday would allow the state to collect sales tax on items sold by vendors who do not have a physical presence in Texas. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. held that such taxes were constitutional.

One bill allows for the Texas Comptroller to identify a single tax rate to apply to remote sellers and is expected to generate $300 million over the next two years. Because local taxing jurisdictions in Texas have varying sales tax rates, ranging from 6.25 to 8.25 percent, lawmakers say the bill is intended to simplify online vendors’ sales tax calculations… (LINK TO STORY)


Facebook faces a big penalty, but regulators are split over how big (New York Times)

Facebook’s announcement in late April that it had set aside $3 billion to $5 billion to settle claims that it mishandled users’ personal data suggested a strong consensus by federal regulators that the social media giant needed to be held accountable.

But the reality behind the scenes at the Federal Trade Commission is far more complicated, reflecting the politics and give-and-take of the negotiations. The F.T.C.’s five commissioners agreed months ago that they wanted to pursue a historic penalty that would show the agency’s teeth. But now, the members are split on the size and scope of the tech company’s punishment, according to three people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity… (LINK TO STORY)


Episode 44: Austin 5G Update with Bob Digneo, Assistant VP, External and Regulatory Affairs at AT&T

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 44 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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