BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (June 22, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Zoning and Platting remains unhappy with PUD ordinance (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

With Draft 3 of CodeNEXT currently under review, the Zoning and Platting Commission voted to send a letter to the mayor and City Council concerning the code’s failure to address problems with the city’s current system of planned unit developments.
Commissioner Jim Duncan was the most outspoken about his frustrations regarding the revisions.
“I was really disappointed,” said Duncan at Tuesday’s meeting. “In (Draft 1) there was no change, and in (Draft 2) there was no change. I brought it up to staff that Draft 3 was even worse; (the PUDS were) obviously an afterthought.” He continued to say that many provisions in the PUD ordinance, like baseline entitlements, had been removed in Draft 3.
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As rapid growth continues, Austin area becoming more diverse, older (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

The Texas capital remains one of the fastest-growing places in the country, and it's becoming more racially diverse place in step with national trends.
Already this year the Census data showed that the Austin-area population reached an estimated 2,115,827 in 2017 and that Central Texas is home to some of the state's fastest-growing small cities.
But the data released this week offers a deeper dive into the demographic makeup of Central Texas. The Austin area is getting older and more diverse: the median age has increased in four of the metro's five counties since 2010, and is highest in Caldwell County (36.1 years) and Williamson County (36.3 years).
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Texas Democrats poised to back legalization of marijuana (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Last week, the Texas Republican Party at its convention in San Antonio approved a platform plank that called for decriminalizing marijuana. Not to be outdone — or more accurately, not to be matched — the Texas Democratic Party appears on its way to embracing legalization of marijuana when it approves its platform here Saturday.
“The 2012 convention was the first time our platform recognized that marijuana needed to be decriminalized. It’s not till 2018, six years later, that we are finally moving from decriminalization to legalization,” said Pedro Villalobos, an Austin member of the platform advisory committee, which drew up the draft language that the committee seemed agreeable to Thursday. Villalobos works as an assistant county attorney in Travis County.

Texas Could Gain Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars After Ruling On Taxing Online Purchases (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Texas stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that states may force online retailers to collect sales tax even when they have no physical presence in the state.
Every year, Texas loses $1.1 billion in uncollected sales tax, according to the Texas comptroller’s office — well over the $800 million the state will spend securing its southern border this year and next. That’s the result of the high court’s 1992 decision, now reversed, that retailers are responsible for collecting sales tax only in states where they had “nexus.” That decision — which predated the astronomical rise of the internet and the subsequent boom in online shopping — was outdated, argued lawyers for the state of South Dakota, who won the case this week.

Texas Democrats hope to exploit outrage over family separation issue (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Texas Democrats gathered Thursday for their state convention determined to seize a dramatic, emotion-charged moment in which the eyes of the world are on Texas and the state’s Republicans find themselves divided, on the defensive and unusually muted.
“It has been said that evil triumphs when man is silent; evil triumphed on Texas soil and (Lt. Gov.) Dan Patrick was silent,” Mike Collier, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said at a news conference with Lupe Valdez, who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, setting the tone for the biennial gathering, taking place at the Fort Worth Convention Center through Saturday.
Patrick “had several days to search his soul as to what to do about this crisis on the border and he chose to spare his political neck rather than spare these families and young children from the trauma and horror that they experienced,” said Collier, who had been the party’s candidate for comptroller four years ago. “Only after the immediate crisis passed did Dan Patrick say anything. This is the very face of cowardice.”
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Trump wants to prosecute all illegal border crossings without splitting up families. That will be a challenge. (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

When President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed down from an immigration policy that separated migrant families, he pledged to continue his “zero tolerance” approach: Parents would still be prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, but their families wouldn’t be split up.
But legal and logistical challenges will make it exceedingly difficult for his administration to accomplish both goals.
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Federal judge rules that consumer protection bureau is unconstitutional (Washington Post) LINK STORY

A New York federal judge ruled Thursday that the structure of the Consumer of Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional and that the watchdog agency should be eliminated. Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska threw out the bureau’s lawsuit against a New Jersey company that the bureau alleged had scammed former NFL players and 9/11 emergency medical workers out of millions of dollars.
Preska’s ruling contradicts a decision by a U.S. appeals court on the issue this year and increases the likelihood that the CFPB’s constitutionality could become fodder for the Supreme Court. Noting that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was not binding in New York, Preska said she “respectfully” disagreed.
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