BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 19, 2018)



Austin Urges An Appeals Court To Allow Its Paid Sick Leave Ordinance To Take Effect (KUT)

Saying that the city of Austin's paid sick leave ordinance would "undermine state sovereignty and upend constitutional structure," an attorney for the state of Texas joined lawyers for a conservative think tank on Wednesday in urging a state appeals court to uphold a temporary order blocking the ordinance from going into effect.

Passed by the city council in February, the ordinance requires most employers to offer eight days of earned sick leave for a year of work; six days for businesses with fewer than 15 employees. But it was blocked by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals in August after business groups led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation sued the city.

Andrew Davis, an attorney with the Texas Attorney General's Office, said in court that the paid sick leave ordinance effectively raises wages — and it's the state's job to set a minimum wage. The Texas Public Policy Foundation's lead attorney, Rob Henneke, cited a “wide spectrum of businesses” that were asking for relief, and argued that a city mandate that exempts unionized businesses is unconstitutional…

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See also, BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control

Casaday scolds Council over lack of contract (Austin Monitor)

The president of the Austin Police Association lashed out at City Council during Thursday’s meeting over the city’s failure to reach an agreement with the union over police officers’ pay and benefits.

“I want everybody on the Council to know that we’ve been waiting over 290 days to sit back down and work out our labor contract. We’ve worked out (Major League Soccer), we’ve worked out all kinds of huge issues, except now we’re saving money on our officers’ backs to balance the budget,” APA leader Ken Casaday said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Casaday said. “I had 300 officers in my hall yesterday pissed off that we have not sat down to go over our contract,” he shouted…

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Lake Travis could rise to 710 feet above sea level by Friday; floodgates opened 17 times since 1990 (Community Impact)

From 1990 to now, the Highland Lakes chain has experienced 17 flood events requiring the Lower Colorado River Authority to open floodgates at one or more of its dams, LCRA said in a report.

Since the mid-1990s through LCRA’s fiscal year 2017, LCRA has invested more than $134 million in dam improvements and plans to spend another $39.3 million from FY 2018 through FY 2022 on dam rehabilitation projects, the report said…

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Texas House Democrats expect midterms will boost their bargaining power in speaker's race (Texas Tribune)

Democrats in the Texas House are bullish ahead of Election Day. They’re bullish that their 55-member caucus will pick up anywhere from a handful to a dozen seats. They’re bullish that their members will be unified heading into the 2019 legislative session.

And they’re bullish that, despite their minority status, they can still play an influential role in electing the next speaker of the Texas House.

“I believe — and our caucus believes — that the next House speaker will be elected with bipartisan support,” said state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chair of the House Democratic Caucus…

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Texas companies paid $654M more in tariffs this summer than the last amid Trump's trade war (Dallas Morning News)

Texas companies paid $654 million more in tariffs in June through August than in the same three-month stretch the year prior, a 142 percent increase that comes as a direct consequence of President Donald Trump's sprawling trade war.

That's one of the major findings in an analysis released Thursday by the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign, a national coalition of business and farm groups. The startling jump in import levies jibes with the impact that's been reported anecdotally by Texas businesses over the last several months as Trump has imposed tariffs on washing machines, solar panels, steel and aluminum, and an enormous list of goods produced in China. Affected businesses may be forced to reduce investment and hiring as a result, while consumers could end up feeling the pinch by way of higher prices. "This affects our bottom line," said Texas Ale Project president Kat Thompson, explaining how the aluminum tariffs are hitting her company's beer cans. "You may think, 'OK, a one-cent increase on a can, whoop-de-doo.' But it adds up real fast when you're talking about 100,000 cans."…

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Gov. Abbott funnels campaign cash into vulnerable GOP state House races (San Antonio Express-News)

Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign is pumping more than $275,000 into vulnerable state House Republican races, trying to bat down any Democratic gains in the November 6 election. With a $26 million campaign war chest, Abbott’s spending is also a public pronouncement of his patron role in the party in Texas.

Since August, Abbott’s campaign has funded political advertising and grassroots support for nine Republican candidates in the Dallas and Austin-metro areas, according to campaign finance reports. All are especially competitive districts that Hillary Clinton won, or just barely lost, in the 2016 election. It’s the first time Abbott has waded into state House races since the GOP primaries, when he drew some criticism from within the party by working to defeat three sitting Republican representatives, including Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, and Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place…

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Trump threatens to send military, shut border as migrants head for Mexico (Reuters)

President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to deploy the military and close the southern U.S. border if Mexico does not halt a caravan of Central America migrants heading north, raising the risk of huge disruptions to trade.

Stretching almost 2,000 miles (3,200 km), the U.S.-Mexican border is one of the busiest in the world, processing thousands of commuters daily and much of the half a trillion dollars of annual trade between Mexico and the United States.

“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught - and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

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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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