BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 25, 2018)

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[Austin Metro]

Council votes not to put CodeNEXT petition on ballot (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council members have voted against putting a CodeNEXT petition to a public vote, instead allowing a threatened lawsuit to proceed and a judge to determine whether the city is required to do so.
“Putting this on the ballot is not proper under law,” said Mayor Steve Adler, who voted with the six-member majority. “(But) I think we should take this action now, take it quickly, so as to give anyone who would want to challenge it the greatest opportunity to have someone check our paper.”
And checked it may certainly be: Attorney Fred Lewis said he will sue.
If a judge rules that the law requires Council to put the petition on the ballot, it would have until Aug. 20 to get it in front of November voters.
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Council approves $110M for Waller Creek chain of parks (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council voted Thursday to pump another $110 million into the Waller Creek chain of parks.
The money committed by the city is part of a long-term $375 million project to turn 35 acres of land along the creek into a chain of parks and civic spaces. The other $275 million is supposed to come from private fundraising conducted by the Waller Creek Conservancy, a nonprofit.
The city is funding the project, which broke ground last fall, with an urban development tool known as tax increment financing.
The way TIF works, the city borrows money to pay for capital projects in a certain area based on the presumption that that investment will lead to higher property values in the surrounding area. At the same time, it sets up a special district that includes many of the surrounding properties. During the life of that district, any property tax revenue derived from the increased value on those properties is designated toward paying off the debt.
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[STATE]

After Santa Fe massacre, Texas shooting survivors give lawmakers policy solutions (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Last Friday, Santa Fe High School senior Grace Johnson walked into the hallway from the band practice room, where she had been taking a nap, and saw one of her classmates get shot and fall to the ground.
Almost a week after the massacre in her Houston-area school, Johnson stood in the Texas Capitol Thursday and gave Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas lawmakers recommendations about how to prevent future school shootings. Johnson was among dozens of other students, parents and educators impacted by recent shootings at Santa Fe High School, Sutherland Springs' First Baptist Church last November, and Alpine High School in 2016, at the last of three roundtable discussions convened by Abbott to discuss school safety and gun violence.
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State to fine company, give students reprieve after STAAR glitches (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Texas fifth- and eighth-graders affected by two widespread online testing disruptions in as many months won’t have to pass the state standardized test this year to move on to the next grade, the Texas Education Agency announced Thursday. In addition to dropping the testing requirement, the agency will levy $100,000 in penalties on New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, which administers the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, for the testing problems.
“As we continue to build upon our online platform to provide greater support to students, we cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a news release. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”
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Houston’s meager population growth puts $17M hole in city budget (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

In posting a sluggish population growth estimate for Houston, the U.S. Census Bureau blew a $17 million hole in the city budget. City officials had expected the count would show Houston had added about 30,400 people by January from the year prior. The Census Bureau on Thursday, however, estimated the city grew by just 9,200 between July 2016 and last summer. Because the revenue cap voters approved in 2004 limits the city’s annual increase in property tax collections to the combined rates of inflation and population growth, that means Mayor Sylvester Turner must adjust his proposed $2.5 billion general fund budget.
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[NATION]

Texas among leaders of new U.S., Canada cryptocurrency task force (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The hype surrounding cryptocurrencies continues to attract attention from more than just investors looking for big returns. Regulators have been increasingly worried about fraud amid the boosterism, and a coordinated crackdown by more than 40 securities agencies from across the U.S. and Canada is their latest effort to try to root it out.
The enforcement action — called “Operation Cryptosweep” — has been organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association. It was announced in Washington on Monday during a financial technology conference, where officials with the group described the prevalence of crypto-related fraud as “a significant threat to Main Street investors.”
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