BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 30, 2018)



City Council Will Try A New Tactic To Rid Austin Of Plastic Bags. Asking Nicely. (KUT)

The Austin City Council is taking up a resolution today encouraging local stores to keep honoring the city’s so-called bag ban. It’s the latest response to a state Supreme Court ruling this year that found Texas cities and towns could not enforce regulations of single-use plastic bags.
After the ruling, a lot of people in Austin wondered if the bags would return to local stores and, by extension, to sidewalks, creeks and tree branches. So far, it seems like little has changed. Most stores are still selling the thicker-plastic reusable bags at checkout.
The council vote amounts to a simple appeal that retailers continue with that practice.
“Plastic bags, as convenient as they may be, have a really detrimental effect on both the visual of the out of doors,” said District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, a sponsor of the resolution. “Also [plastic] greatly harms the wildlife if they peck at it and ingest it.”...
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How excluding Canada in Trump’s new trade deal could hurt Texas (Texas Tribune)

As Canadian leaders scramble to persuade President Donald Trump to not exclude them from trade negotiations, a trade expert says that shunning America’s northern neighbor could hit Texans in the pocketbook more than they realize.
Meanwhile, some of the state’s elected officials said that although Monday's announcement of a tentative U.S. trade deal with Mexico is good news, they need more details before they move beyond being just “cautiously optimistic.”
Mexico continues to be Texas’ largest international trading partner after the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico went into effect in 1994. Through the first half of this calendar year, $300 billion in two-way trade had passed between the two countries. The customs districts of Laredo and El Paso rank as the top two trading hubs, with $113.5 billion and $38.5 billion passing through the respective ports, according to U.S. census data analyzed by WorldCity, a company that tracks global trade patterns...
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How many billions did Texas get from selling houses to foreign buyers?(Dallas Morning News)

Texas was the third most popular state for international home buyers in the last year, according to a new report from the Texas Association of Realtors. The buyers, not surprisingly, hailed from countries with growing populations in Texas.
Mexico led the way, followed by China, India, the United Kingdom and Canada. Texas cities accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. homes bought by international buyers from April 2017 to March 2018, according to the report. That represented 24,012 home sales, which the state real estate association estimated as a $10.89 billion boost to the Texas economy. Mexican buyers were the most active, totaling 38 percent of the state's home purchases by international buyers. China (7 percent) and India (6 percent) were the next highest. "
Fueled by the desire to start and run a business, obtain world-class education or purchase investment property, international homebuyers continue to choose Texas," Kaki Lybbert, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, said in a statement...
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Contractors cry for immigration reform to ease labor shortage (Houston Chronicle)

A prolonged shortage of construction workers has the Associated General Contractors of America calling for immigration reform. “We recognize it’s important to have safe borders,” said Kenneth D. Simonson, the group’s chief economist. “But it’s also really important for the growth of the U.S. economy to make sure that we have a large enough workforce.” A workforce survey that the contractors group released Wednesday showed that 78 percent of construction firms in Texas report difficulty finding qualified construction workers. That difficulty persists despite some growth in the labor market. Houston leads the nation in a recent analysis of construction employment growth, with the industry booming in the year following Hurricane Harvey, according to Simonson...
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U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question (Texas Tribune)

On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen.
His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.
But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.
As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.
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‘Section 8 need not apply’: States and cities outlaw housing discrimination (Governing)

Washington state is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law to protect low-income renters from housing discrimination. House Bill 2578, which will go into effect at the end of September, makes it illegal for landlords to reject applicants based on their use of public assistance, including Section 8, Social Security or veterans benefits.

"We have a housing crisis in Washington. In Seattle, the market is so tight that I would hear about tenants getting [evicted] just because they were using public assistance. There were some property owners that weren’t even accepting veterans," says Democratic state Rep. Marcus Riccelli, who introduced the legislation. If a landlord or property company is found in violation of the law, they could be fined "up to four and one-half times the monthly rent of the real property at issue, as well as court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees," according to the bill. When looking at apartment ads, Riccelli says it isn’t uncommon to see "Section 8 need not apply."...

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Florida GOP candidate DeSantis under fire for 'monkey this up' remark (Austin American-Statesman)

Hours after Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis cruised to an easy win in the race to become his party's nominee for Florida governor, he found himself facing criticism for one of his remarks.
DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, will face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat, in the November election. According to CNN, Gillum, who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is Florida’s first African-American gubernatorial nominee...
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