BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 13, 2018)



While paid sick leave mandate on hold, city marches on (Austin America-Statesman)

Even though a court order has placed Austin’s citywide paid sick leave mandate on hold, the city on Tuesday signalled that it is still moving forward to provide sick days to all of its employees.

Leading up to the approval of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance in February, the fact that the city did not provide paid sick leave to all of its employees became fodder for the opposition. Shortly after the council approved the mandate, the council passed a resolution ordering the city to budget money to give all city employees paid sick leave, including contracted employees who often were not given sick days.

In a memo to the Austin City Council, the city’s Human Resources Director Joya Hayes said that the city is poised to begin providing sick days for all employees on Oct. 1, the day the paid sick leave ordinance would have taken effect before the Third Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction against the ordinance on Aug. 18.

The projected cost annual cost is $260,000, the memo said…

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City boosts spending on homelessness, but advocates still disappointed (Austin Monitor)

The Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget approved by City Council on Tuesday includes a $3.4 million increase in funding for homelessness services. City staff estimates that the new funds come on top of more than $26 million in annual city spending on programs related to homelessness.

Most of the new money – $2.4 million – was included in the proposed budget submitted by City Manager Spencer Cronk earlier this summer.

$1 million of the staff-recommended increase will fund the expansion of the Homeless Outreach Street Team, an effort that involves police officers, social workers and paramedics working together to connect homeless people with services, treatment and, ideally, housing.

Another $493,000 will fund five new city positions dealing with homelessness. Three of those employees will be coordinators tasked with getting all city departments that interact with homeless individuals – from the Parks and Recreation Department to the Watershed Protection Department – to work proactively and collaboratively on the issue. Two of the new employees will work at the Central Library as points of contact for homeless people to get connected with services…

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Threadgill’s restaurant, live music venue to close after Thanksgiving (Austin American-Statesman)

Threadgill’s World Headquarters, a landmark Austin restaurant, will close its location just south of downtown after Thanksgiving, owner Eddie Wilson said Wednesday.

“Flummoxed and bludgeoned by property tax increases, the grim truth is that we can’t afford it on the slim margins you make on meatloaf and chicken-fried steak,” Wilson said of his restaurant at 301 W. Riverside Drive, known for its Southern homestyle cooking.

Wilson said the original Threadgill’s location on North Lamar Boulevard will remain open.

Like Threadgill’s, Wilson is an Austin institution, having owned the famed Armadillo World Headquarters music venue in the 1970s…

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With a supermajority, Republicans have complete control of the Texas Senate. That's at risk this election cycle. (Texas Tribune)

Republican lawmakers in the Texas Senate were sitting pretty last year.

For years, the GOP had faced roadblocks to passing some conservative measures by the chamber’s two-thirds rule, which normally required the support of 21 members to get a bill to the floor. With 20 Republicans in the chamber, that left Republicans one short of moving out bills without the help of a single Democrat.

But then in 2015, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led a successful move to lower the threshold from two-thirds to three-fifths. Suddenly, any measure with the backing of all of the chamber’s Republicans had all the support it needed. For that session and the ones that followed in 2017, the GOP effectively ran the Senate floor.

Now, with less than two months until Election Day, Republicans are finding that keeping that supermajority in the Texas Senate is no longer a sure thing…

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Texas had an office tackling institutional racism. Now it’s closed. KUT)

During the last legislative session, state lawmakers eliminated funding for the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement. It's last day was Aug. 31. 

The agency was small. Its budget was about $2 million. It had about two dozen full-time employees. Yet, it was trying to solve one of the biggest problems facing the state: racial inequities in government services. In other words, the agency was trying to tackle institutional racism.

“It was revolutionary when Texas opened this office,” said Lauren Lluveras, who worked as an equity and inclusion specialist at the Office of Minority Health for a little more than a year. “We were one of the first states to create – not an office of minority health, but – an office that had this holistic approach toward disparities, institutional disparities.”…

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Trump said to ask Puerto Rico’s governor about the ‘unsung success’ there. Then the governor rebuked him. (Washington Post)

The Trump presidency is one big codependent relationship. Politicians need things from and fear President Trump, so they ignore his rough edges, his controversies, his bragging and his occasional slights. Republicans especially put up with Trump, and they've gotten tax cuts and Supreme Court justices in return. But sometimes, this codependent relationship reaches something of a breaking point. That seemed to be the case Tuesday for Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after Trump, in a follow-up to questions about preparedness for Hurricane Florence, lauded the response to the hurricanes that walloped Puerto Rico last year.

The governor was Trump's chief character witness in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, even as Trump feuded with San Juan's mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz. Rosselló made a clear calculation that being nice to Trump was the best thing for his island, so he entertained Trump's hyperbolic bragging about the hurricane response. He did so even when Trump compared the death toll in Puerto Rico favorably to Hurricane Katrina (a comparison that has now backfired). On Tuesday, though, Trump went too far for Rosselló. Despite the official estimate just in the last few days raising the excess death toll near 3,000, Trump hailed the Puerto Rico response as an “incredible unsung success.” (The Post's Philip Bump runs through all the reasons this claim strains credulity.) Trump even invited reporters to verify his claims with Rosselló.

“If you ask the governor, he'll tell you what a great job” the administration did, he said. But Rosselló ... decided to go in a different direction. No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” Rosselló stated. “The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and unAmerican. It is certainly not a successful relationship.”…

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The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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