BG Note | News - What We're Reading (July 27, 2017)
Senate clears most Abbott priorities, shifting attention to House (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
"After deliberating until almost 2 a.m. Wednesday, then returning to work eight hours later, the Texas Senate cleared most of its calendar, sending 18 bills to the House that are favored by Gov. Greg Abbott, including legislation on transgender bathroom use, abortion regulations and limits on the authority of cities. Events may have moved slower than expected, requiring 16 hours of nonstop work starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday and a session last week that began minutes after midnight, but the Senate was able to largely meet Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s goal of passing Abbott’s priorities by midweek. Senate Republicans took a quick victory lap, celebrating a list of conservative priorities that they had laid upon the House’s doorstep."
Texas Senate approves bill aimed to speed up building permits (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
"A bill [SB 13] in the Texas Legislature that would create hard deadlines for local governments to rule on building permits cleared the Texas Senate floor on Wednesday as part of the chamber’s march toward Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s vow to go “20 for 20” in the ongoing special session."
Senate Backs Bill That Would Roll Back Cellphone Safety Laws In Dozens Of Texas Cities (KUT and Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
"The Texas Senate on Wednesday gave tentative approval to a measure that pre-empts local ordinances on drivers’ mobile phone usage, effectively rolling back safety laws in the 45 Texas cities where local governments enforce stricter regulations than the state. If the Senate grants Senate Bill 15 final approval, as expected, the legislation will head across the Texas Capitol to the House."
Link to SB 15 by Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas), Relating to prosecution of certain offenses involving and preemption of local regulation of the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.
Here’s where the Texas Legislature is on Gov. Abbott's special session issues (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
"Gov. Greg Abbott called the 85th Texas Legislature back for a special session beginning July 18, initially to pass legislation needed to keep five state agencies in operation, and then to address a longer list of proposals for everything from restroom regulations to local tree ordinances. The governor opened a total of 20 for consideration; this is our constantly updated look at the Legislature’s progress during the 30-day special session.
At Capital Metro’s Traffic Jam, Adler brings the noise (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
"Mayor Steve Adler’s plan for the next big transportation funding package is a new way forward indeed. On Wednesday night, at a large public engagement event meant to highlight the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ongoing Project Connect process, Adler suggested that the plan would dwarf the historic $720 million package that voters approved last year."
Texas universities forced to trim their budgets, even with big state cuts averted (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
"The massive state funding cuts Texas higher education officials dreaded never materialized this year. But that doesn't mean their public universities are out of the woods. Most of them — even some that received slight funding boosts from the state — are asking their staffs to cut costs for the upcoming school year."
Community Development Commission grapples with CodeNEXT (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
"The Community Development Commission voiced frustration over lack of outreach and discussion with the CodeNEXT team during a special called meeting earlier this month. The first draft of CodeNEXT, Austin’s land code rewrite, has been out since January, but some commissioners felt the team excluded lower-income families and individuals from the dialogue. Tensions brewed when the team presented the idea of density bonuses, which are incentives for developers to add more units in a building for families with a lower median income."
Link to Community Development Commission (City of Austin)
Link to CodeNEXT (City of Austin)
Austin pools face major problems (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
"In a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Board Tuesday night, Acting Department Director Kimberly McNeeley described a system of aging pools that are on life-support due to a lack of investment in maintenance and upgrades. Commercial pools have a typical lifespan of 25 to 30 years, said McNeeley, while the average age of Austin’s 35 pools is over 50. She likened the state of most of Austin’s aquatic facilities to a car with over 200,000 miles: At the very least they need to be repaired, if not replaced."
Link to Park and Recreation Board (City of Austin)
Link to Aquatic Master Plan (City of Austin)