BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 15, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

State drops plans for I-35 toll lanes through Austin (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

State transportation officials, reacting to anti-toll pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, voted Thursday to remove all tollway projects from a key 10-year construction plan — including what would have been the addition of two toll lanes to each side of Interstate 35 through Central Texas.

That 5-0 vote came despite the pleas of nearly a dozen Central Texas political, civic and business leaders — including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Sen. Kirk Watson, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and Capital Metro board chairman Wade Cooper — to keep the I-35 express lanes in the plan...

Council greenlights new pedestrian mall on Congress Avenue (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council paved the way Thursday for a major state project that will transform three blocks of downtown from roadway into a grass-covered pedestrian mall.
Council voted to give the Texas Facilities Commission the OK to seize control of city right of way on Congress Avenue between 16th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to construct the “Texas Mall” and the underground parking garage underneath.
The mall is the centerpiece of phase one of the Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan. The plan will also include two new state buildings on Congress Avenue that are expected to serve 3,500 state employees who currently work in leased office space elsewhere in the Austin area. Phase one of the plan will cost $581 million, over $100 million of which will be spent on the mall and parking garage...

Austin City Council Approves Funding For Study On Housing Discrimination (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The Austin City Council is moving forward with plans for the region’s first-ever fair housing assessment. The effort aims to shed light on issues of housing discrimination across Central Texas.
The federal Fair Housing Act was designed to protect people from discrimination when renting, buying or financing a home, but biased practices persist in cities across the U.S. Council members voted to take part in the regional housing assessment earlier this year; on Thursday they approved $250,000 in funding to hire a consulting firm to lead the effort...

24 Diner, Parkside win airport contract (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Despite the angst it expressed over not making a spot at the airport for longtime Austin restaurant Threadgill’s, City Council voted to award the contract for new airport restaurant concessions to HMSHost, the company whose bid included the 24 Diner and Parkside restaurants. The vote was unanimous, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair absent.

In response to questions from Mayor Steve Adler, Aviation Department Director Jim Smith said that Host scored 84.84 points, followed closely by Paradies Lagardère, which scored 84.58 points in the bidding supervised by the Purchasing Department. Host and Paradies are both multinational corporations that operate concessions in numerous airports, including Austin-Bergstrom International Airport...


Senate panel begins discussion about sexual harassment policy (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Senate could meet in the coming months to establish a new sexual harassment policy. Amid reports of sexual misconduct by staffers and lawmakers at the Capitol, members of the Senate Administration Committee met Thursday to discuss possible changes to the policy. Committee Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said she plans to make recommendations to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw...

How two North Texans built one of the biggest, baddest cannabis brands in the world (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) LINK TO STORY

One North Texan was a prototypical party boy who’s now singing the gospel of pot to lawmakers, the press and — most importantly — to prospective clients. The other brings a critical component to a multimillion-dollar operation: the science of cannabis oil extraction.

These two make up half of the C-suites at Denver-based Organa Brands, which went through 10 tons of marijuana on its way to $118 million in revenue last year, selling 68 products ranging from vaporizer pens to edible gummies to cannabis-infused energy drinks, all based on the liquid gold...


FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

It was a split decision Wednesday for federal judge nominees from Texas. The U.S. Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to be a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the White House pulled back from supporting Jeff Mateer, a top official in the Texas attorney general’s office who had called transgender children evidence of “Satan’s plan,” for a Plano-based federal judge position...

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