BG Note | News - What We're Reading (July 25, 2017)

Texas business group airing new ads opposing ‘bathroom bills’ (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Two new radio advertisements critical of proposals in the Texas Legislature to restrict transgender-friendly bathroom policies are hitting the airwaves this week, part of a $1 million ad campaign by the state’s main business lobbying group to oppose the so-called ”bathroom bills.” In the ads funded by the Texas Association of Business, two Republicans — former state State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland and Denton County Judge Mary Horn — call the proposals unnecessary diversions. “Some Texas politicians have made up issues, like bathroom bills, that are distractions from real concerns,” Keffer says in one of the ads. “Concerns like school finance reform, and real property tax relief — that’s what matters to me. Why don’t they matter to the politicians in Austin.”

Texas Senate readies to pass bathroom bill and others by end of week (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

"An early morning start had the Texas Senate on track to pass out all 20 of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority items by the end of the second week of the session. After a rare midnight session Thursday and a weekend of around the clock committee meetings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had dozens of bills primed to be heard on the Senate floor over the next three days starting at 9 a.m. Monday. That includes bills dealing with highly controversial issues like abortion, transgender bathroom policies, school vouchers and tree ordinances."

Loophole Lets Lawmakers Raise Cash During The Special Session (KUT) LINK TO STORY

"Today, lawmakers can't accept campaign cash in the Capitol, and the prohibition against contributions during the session applies not only to legislators, but to statewide officeholders as well. But there's a loophole. Lawmakers are not prohibited from accepting money during a special session. And as the current special session enters its second week, James Drew, Austin bureau reporter for the Houston Chronicle, says lots of fundraising is going on."

Senate gives initial OK to property tax rate elections in cities, counties (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

"Texans could soon have more direct control over the property tax rates that cities, counties and special purpose districts set as legislation that stalled during the state Legislature's regular session is taken up by both chambers this week. The Senate in a 19-12 vote on Monday gave preliminary approval to a bill requiring larger cities, counties and taxing districts to have an election if the amount of property tax revenues they collect on existing property and buildings exceeds 4 percent of the amount they took in the year before. Smaller government entities — those that collect less than $20 million in property and sales tax a year — will have to hold an election if revenue collections exceed an 8 percent increase." 

The many balancing acts in Austin’s quest for affordable housing (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY 

"When it comes to providing housing that is affordable to Austin’s poor and working-class residents, city leaders have very few tools at their disposal. The city is barred by state law from implementing the types of regulations that other major cities have used to create cheaper housing, notably rent control and inclusionary zoning."