BG Note | News - What We're Reading (June 6, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Workforce startups targeting gaps between workers, training programs  (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Last fall, Adam Chasen started looking at the many difficulties and inefficiencies Austin’s workplace training ecosystem has with linking up with prospective workers looking to move into higher-paying careers in fields like information technology and manufacturing. It became the mission of his startup company, KeyUp, which he hopes to build into a resource that local governments, colleges and business-focused nonprofits can use to more easily match workers to businesses needing skilled employees.
One of the biggest problems Chasen found right away was that information about training programs and associated resources is so diffuse and disorganized that workers looking to “level up” their career prospects have a hard time making a confident decision.
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Adopting code a significant challenge (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Mayor Steve Adler continued his quest to gain consensus on CodeNEXT Tuesday as City Council began to deliberate adoption of the new Land Development Code. In pursuit of that end, Adler gave each person on the dais – including City Manager Spencer Cronk and staff from the Planning and Zoning Department – a hard hat and a yellow vest emblazoned with the label “Team Austin.”
“I think it would be a significant disappointment” if Council failed to adopt the new code after all the money and time that has gone into writing it, Adler said. Council has to recognize that this is “a very wicked problem. But I hope we can also recognize that even though it’s a wicked problem, it’s not about wicked people.” To that end, he said that he hoped that wearing the Team Austin uniforms would help Council to recognize that they’re all ultimately on the same side.
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Mayor: Best use of McKalla is ‘to help facilitate Major League Soccer’ (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Austin Mayor Steve Adler expressed a preference Tuesday for Major League Soccer at McKalla Place.
“I was pleased to see that the (city) report indicated McKalla was a viable location for soccer. It also pointed out there were other viable uses for it, and that doesn’t surprise me,” Adler told the American-Statesman. “The council’s going to have to step in and wade through those competing priorities. My sense is that (soccer) is a really unique opportunity to gather all parts of our community in a public setting in ways that don’t happen now.
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Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke split on online sales taxes in fight for the 'little guy' (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

The question of whether states can require online retailers to collect billions of dollars more in sales taxes has stirred the business world, stymied lawmakers and generated enough disagreement to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. It also highlights a clear policy divide between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso. Cruz is apt to launch a freedom-themed stem-winder against any mention of expanding states’ taxing authority over the growing world of e-commerce. O’Rourke, while much more low-key on the topic, is open to that kind of change in the name of “leveling the playing field.”
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After 71-year-old woman dies following visit to Flower Mound spa, Sen. Jane Nelson seeks legislative fix (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Flower Mound Republican Sen. Jane Nelson said Tuesday she wants to see "stronger oversight" of flotation pods at health spas, after a 71-year-old woman was found unconscious with no pulse while submerged in a pod in March. She died eight days later. State law requires health spas to register with the Texas secretary of state's office, though flotation pods themselves are not subject to state regulation. That would change under the legislation Nelson plans to file during the legislative session that starts in January. "This is a tragic situation that should never have happened," Nelson said in a prepared statement. "Clearly, stronger oversight is needed, and I am developing legislation to ensure that we are protecting public health and safety."
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Cost of ER visits nearly doubled as fees are coded at highest level (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Even though the number of insured emergency room visits has stayed about the same in recent years, the cost to step inside the door has nearly doubled, according to new data released by a health care policy group. In 2016, the average amount spent nationally by insurers and patients for emergency room visits was $247 per insured person. In 2009 it was $125, the Health Care Cost Institute research shows. The reason for the spike appears to be a dramatic shift in how emergency visits are coded by facilities, with many more designated at the highest levels of severity and therefore billed at steeper prices, said John Hargraves, a researcher and co-author of the report.
When a patient arrives at an emergency room — either a traditional one attached to a hospital or a free-standing emergency center located in a retail center — the visit is assigned a procedure code ranging from 1 to 5 for purposes of billing. Level 1 is the least serious, Level 5 is the highest. The way such designations are determined can be tricky and in the eye of the beholder depending on patient history, age and complexity of treatment.
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Task force wants to raise San Antonio political contribution caps (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

A panel charged with reviewing and making recommendations on local campaign finance laws has concluded its work and will recommend to the City Council that both contribution limits and transparency be increased. A seven-member panel appointed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg with input from council members, the Campaign Finance Task Force decided Tuesday to recommend that contribution limits be increased by 50 percent. For more than a dozen years, donors could give no more than $500 per cycle to a council candidate and no more than $1,000 to a mayoral candidate. The task force is recommending those numbers increased to $750 and $1,500, respectively.
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California rewards front-runners in top races, but contested House districts are likely to be unresolved for days (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

The year’s biggest day of primary elections — with voters in eight states casting ballots in hundreds of congressional, state and local contests — closed Tuesday with two well-known Democrats prevailing in marquee California races while the outcomes of other key contests in the state could stay unresolved for days. Dianne Feinstein, at 84 making another bid for the Senate seat she has held since 1992, was projected the winner as several candidates vied for the second slot.
Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor, was projected the winner of the race to succeed the term-limited Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and will face Republican John Cox in November’s election. Both Democrats, representing different generations and clashing styles of the party’s politics, will enter November’s election as clear favorites. But perhaps more attention was directed down ballot in the Golden State, where Tuesday’s results are expected to provide new insight into Democrats’ chances for retaking congressional majorities in November.
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