BG Note | News - What We're Reading (July 19, 2017)

Lawmakers to target Austin's worker protections on construction projects (Texas Tribune) Link to Story 

"With the beginning of the special legislative session, opponents of construction permitting rules in Austin that require more worker protections in exchange for a faster process have the chance to overturn local regulations like Austin's." 

Cities want meeting with Abbott over local control (Houston Chronicle) Link to Story

"Less than 24 hours after Gov. Greg Abbott blasted local government restrictions like tree ordinances as a threat to the "Texas brand," city government leaders statewide are seeking a meeting with the Republican leader. 'We would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the role cities play in attracting jobs and investments to support the prosperity of the State of Texas,' a letter signed by 18 mayors, including Houston mayor Sylvester Turner to Abbott states."

IBM: We will reconsider our commitment to Texas if a bathroom bill passes (Austin American-Statesman) Link to Story

"Tech companies have come out against bathroom bill proposals, and perhaps none as vocally as IBM, which has taken out full-page ads in several major Texas newspapers and is bringing employees to the state Capitol to speak out against it. We talked with IBM’s Diane Gherson, a senior vice president for human resources at IBM, about the company’s stance on the bathroom bills. This interview has been edited for clarity, and some answers were shortened. "

Bathroom Bill Tests Clout of Rare Moderate in Increasingly Conservative Texas (New York Times) Link to Story

"When Texas lawmakers gather here for the start of a 30-day special legislative session on Tuesday morning, they will most likely decide the fate of the Texas version of North Carolina’s bitterly divisive legislation regulating the access of transgender people to public bathroomsBut something else will be on the line, too: whether moderate Republicans have a role to play in a state party increasingly dominated by far-right Christian conservatives, and whether the last powerful moderate Republican in Texas can keep his job and his influence."

[Travis Co.] Commissioners Court closes in on bond proposition (Austin Monitor) Link to Story

"Travis County voters could weigh in on a pair of bond propositions worth a combined $144 million this November. The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee formally floated that recommendation to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday after months spent trimming down a billion-dollar list of potential bond-funded projects. The CBAC’s two recommended propositions would be divided between transportation projects and parks investments. The former would include roadway expansions as well as sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure and be worth $58.3 million. The parks proposition adds up to $72.6 million, including $21.2 million for a youth sports complex in western Travis County."

Signs fail to point the way at Planning Commission (Austin Monitor) Link to Story

"Though it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, local sign regulations could drastically change with the implementation of CodeNEXT. While that is still a ways away, that didn’t stop the image of Austin’s homey neighborhoods being overrun by digital billboards from haunting the review of a draft code amendment at last week’s Planning Commission meeting."

‘Agent of change’ remains static for now (Austin Monitor) Link to Story

"With a brand-new manager of Austin’s Music and Entertainment Division, there’s not expected to be any upcoming action on the so-called “agent of change” policy that dominated the bandwidth of that office for the first six months of 2017. That’s in part because new manager Erica Shamaly is expected to focus first on the remaining pieces of the city’s Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus package of policies, including implementation of an online business development platform for local musicians and revising the city’s Music Venue Assistance loan program."