BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (June 25, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

East side subdivision evokes legacy of racist deed restrictions (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

There wasn’t much the Planning Commission could do about the subdivision sought by the the owner of an acre of land at 4520 Rimrock Trail, near the Morris Williams Golf Course. The commission was legally required to approve the owner’s request to subdivide the lots, which complied with existing zoning.
That detail didn’t stop neighbors from coming to City Hall to display their displeasure at the planned development, which will include four houses and four accessory dwelling units (or granny flats) on two lots that the neighbors insisted should only accommodate one residence each.
The half-a-dozen speakers and more than 20 people who submitted written comments opposing the subdivision implored the city to protect the neighborhood’s low-density character and bemoaned the prospect of increased traffic that eight new residences might bring.
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Austin’s plastic bag ban law in question after Texas Supreme Court ruling (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that a city ban on single-use plastic bags in Laredo, Texas, violates state law, calling into question similar ordinances in other cities across the state, including in Austin.
The Laredo Merchants Association sued the city of Laredo in March 2015, arguing that the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags conflicted with a state law regulating solid waste disposal, and thus was in violation of the Texas Constitution, which holds that city ordinances cannot violate state law.
Chief Justice Nathan Hecht wrote in the ruling, “We must take statutes as they are written, and the one before us is written quite clearly. Its limitation on local control encompasses the ordinance.”
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Austin’s electric vehicle programming is revving up (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Thanks to the city’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and Austin Energy’s commitment to adding 330 plug-in electric vehicles by 2020, Travis County recently passed Harris and Dallas counties and now has more electric vehicles than either. Now the question is, how do we incorporate our continually growing fleet – public and private – onto the grid?
ERCOT is predicting that by 2031, 20 percent of the vehicles on Texas roads will be electric. In Austin, this would translate to 320,000 vehicles producing $128 million a year in e-fuel revenue. It would also mean that these vehicles would make up 10 percent of the energy load on the city’s grid.
“We anticipate being able to build the capacity necessary to do it,” Dan Smith, Austin Energy’s vice president of electric service delivery, assured commissioners at the June 18 meeting of the Electric Utility Commission.


Family reunifications could take months, Cruz, Cornyn told on border (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Reuniting immigrant children separated from their parents seeking asylum could take up to four months, a federal official told U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, along with local leaders and others meeting at Border Patrol offices on the Texas-Mexico border Friday. The senators traveled to the Rio Grande Valley for a roundtable discussion with the local leadership of federal agencies dealing with immigration, area elected officials and religious and nonprofit representatives.
The senators also toured — and praised — a facility holding immigrant children. During the roundtable, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, mayor of the nearby city of Pharr, pressed Jose Gonzales, field supervisor for the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, about comments indicating that it could take months to reconnect parents in federal custody with their children, in accordance with an executive action issued Wednesday by President Donald Trump.

Texas budget board asks state agencies to be ready to cut 10 percent from future spending (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Texas’ Legislative Budget Board told state agencies Friday to offer up 10 percent cuts in their budget submissions for 2020-21 as lawmakers prepare for next year’s legislative session. State agency chiefs were told they should submit budgets that do not exceed the totals spent in 2019, but to also include a plan detailing how budgets could be cut in increments of 2.5 percent, the board said in a letter.
“It is imperative that every state agency engage in a thorough review of each program and budget strategy and determine the value of each dollar spent,” the board said. “While the state’s economic landscape is positive and a balance is projected to accrue in the treasury, agencies are directed to be vigilant in their spending and continue to be responsible stewards of state resources.”

Texas governor candidate Lupe Valdez pays overdue property tax bills (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Lupe Valdez has made late but final 2017 tax payments on property she owns in Dallas and Ellis counties, according to online records and her campaign. Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff and Democratic Party nominee for governor, had been late on paying more than $12,000 in taxes that were due Jan. 31. She didn't pay her taxes on time, but did loan her political campaign $25,000. Six of the properties were in Dallas County, the others in Ellis County. If she had not paid the taxes she owed by July, she would have officially been listed as delinquent and account could have been turned over to a collection agency.

Most Texas Republicans think point of Mueller investigation is to discredit Trump, UT/TT Poll finds (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Most Texans say they’ve heard “a lot” about the federal investigations into Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016, but they differ greatly — along party lines — about its purpose and its results to date, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Only 5 percent of registered voters in the state say they’ve heard nothing about the Russian election investigations. The rest of us have apparently heard plenty: 58 percent said they’ve heard “a lot,” 27 percent said they’ve heard “some,” and 10 percent said they’ve heard “not very much,” the survey found.
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Trump advocates depriving undocumented immigrants of due-process rights (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

President Trump on Sunday explicitly advocated for depriving undocumented immigrants of their due-process rights, arguing that people who cross the border into the United States illegally are invaders and must immediately be deported without trial or an appearance before a judge.
Trump’s attack on the judicial system sowed more confusion as lawmakers struggle to reach consensus on immigration legislation and as federal agencies scramble to reunite thousands of migrant children and their parents who were separated at the border under an administration policy that the president abruptly reversed last week.
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