BG Note | News - What We're Reading (July 24, 2017)

Senate committee passes 'bathroom bill' after 10 hours of testimony (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As part of state lawmakers’ second attempt at passing a bathroom bill this year, a panel of Senate lawmakers voted Friday to advance a measure to restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans. The 8-1 vote came after almost 10 hours of emotional testimony — a large majority in opposition — by transgender Texans, their families and their allies, who pleaded with lawmakers to not endanger an already vulnerable population. For the third time this year, hundreds of people streamed through the halls of the Capitol and waited in line to testify on the divisive issue that has garnered Texas national attention.


So-called hyper-grandfathering bill pushes against local regulations (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A bill aimed at protecting property owners’ rights from changing local government regulations could undo years of safety and land use rules and create a building environment in Texas with the potential for bars to pop up in residential neighborhoods, critics say. Some local officials are calling Senate Bill 12 the “hyper-grandfathering” bill that goes far beyond current state provisions by retroactively applying to each property the land use and safety codes that were in place the last time the property was sold. In the extreme, SB 12 could lead to broad land use possibilities for parcels of land that haven’t changed hands in decades, according to six local government and public policy experts tracking the bill.


Senate panel OKs bill requiring voter approval for annexations (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A state Senate panel approved a bill Sunday that would give residents targeted for annexation by cities in large Texas counties the opportunity to reject such efforts, one of several bills being considered during a 30-day special legislative session that would curb the authority of cities, including Austin. Senate Bill 6by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, is largely identical to its previous incarnation in the regular session, which ended in May. That bill probably would have headed to the governor’s desk if not for a filibuster that killed it. 


Why Austin school board won’t hedge its bet on a $1 billion bond (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin school board in November will place before voters a single $1.1 billion bond proposition, a departure from previous bond elections when the district tried to hedge its bets. Instead of offering one big bond, past Austin school boards in the last 15 yearsbroke their funding requests into several distinct propositions, expecting voters would approve all of them, but figuring the district would get some funding even if one failed.

Police, sheriffs must soon pay to use state crime labs (WFAA) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Department of Public Safety is notifying local law enforcement agencies across the state Thursday afternoon that it will begin charging for forensic analysis at its crime labs in six weeks, a service that has long been provided for free. Local law enforcement will now have to pay for testing done on controlled substances, toxicology, DNA evidence, and biological specimens to determine the presence of alcohol.