BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 17, 2018)
After two dockless scooter companies launch in Austin, city speeds up rule process (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Jumping the gun works, it seems.
While city staff was devising a pilot program to govern dockless bikes and scooters, expecting to bring a proposal to Council members in June, two companies dropped their electric scooters throughout the city. Now the Austin Transportation Department has proposed fast-tracking approval of the pilot program.
In a memo sent to the mayor and City Council members yesterday, Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar suggested the city vote on a six-month program to begin May 1. The program would limit each company to 500 dockless vehicles, charge them $30 per vehicle and require them to share certain data with the city...
Affordability trumps traffic concerns for Govalle apartment complex (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
The Planning Commission recommended that City Council approve a zoning change that will allow a 290-unit apartment complex to be built at 1125 Shady Lane, near the intersection of Bolm Road and Airport Boulevard.
The commission voted 7-4 to change the zoning on the 8-acre lot from single family to multifamily, despite objections from the Govalle-Johnston Terrace Neighborhood Contact Team over traffic and neighborhood character.
The hearing on April 10 was the second debate over the proposed development. The commission postponed action on the item in February...
Project Connect’s big hopes hinge on small investment (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Project Connect’s path to an estimated $8 billion worth of high-capacity transit investments could be washed out if City Council and Austin voters don’t greenlight a $15 million installment this year, according to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s director of long range planning.
Javier Arguello told the Urban Transportation Commission on Monday night that the agency needs that money to fund preliminary engineering and environmental analysis work on specific corridors identified in the recently unveiled Project Connect system plan.
Those corridors will be determined during the third and final phase of the planning process, which kicked off last month...
State auditor finds more contracting errors made by health agencies (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
For the second time in a week, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is getting flack for mishandling state contracts — and this time the Department of State Health Services is also involved.
The State Auditor’s Office released a 30-page report on Monday showing both agencies bungled a contract for how Genesis Systems Inc. would work the state’s birth and death records system.
The report comes a week after three Texas Health and Human Services Commission employees were fired following a scathing letter from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to Executive Commissioner Charles Smith over contracting failures related to the Children’s Health Insurance Program in rural communities. Abbott said he had asked the State Auditor’s Office and the health commission’s inspector general to investigate where that contract award went wrong...
Online sales tax advantage at risk as Supreme Court considers states' request to reverse rule (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
If you ordered your last small kitchen appliance or batch of printer cartridges from out-of-state retailers to avoid your state and local sales taxes, your shopping strategy has been protected by a 26-year-old law, and it's being challenged. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Tuesday to reverse a 1992 decision that's given out-of-state online retailers an advantage that many say no longer makes sense for a mature e-commerce industry. The court is hearing South Dakota vs. Wayfair, a case that could make online sales taxes required for all purchases. The case is a direct challenge to a 1992 decision in Quill Corp. vs. North Dakota that prohibits states from requiring retailers to collect sales taxes if the seller doesn't have a physical presence in the state. Texas is among 41 states that filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to remove the physical presence rules...
Only 900 troops at border so far, as California resists Trump's National Guard mission (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
California has so far refused to provide National Guard troops, amid concerns they would be involved too closely with immigration enforcement, officials said Monday. That puts a dent in a planned border surge ordered this month by President Donald Trump. The nation's Border Patrol chief said the deployment will last until "operational control" is achieved -- a goal that could mean a lengthy if not indefinite deployment. Trump himself said he wants 2,000 to 4,000 troops until Congress provides funding to construct a border wall...
Clinton to fundraise alongside possible 2020 contenders (The Hill) LINK TO STORY
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is set to fundraise for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) next month alongside several possible 2020 presidential contenders. Clinton will speak at the DNC's annual Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, BuzzFeed News reports, a move that could rally Democratic donors who supported Clinton's 2016 campaign behind up-and-coming candidates. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a first-term senator considered to be a top potential contender to challenge President Trump in 2020, is set to deliver the group's keynote address. Another possible contender, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), will also speak...
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