BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 23, 2018)



Austin Boil Water Order In Effect While Utility Pleads For Reduced Water Consumption (KUT)

A boil water notice remains in effect for Austin Water customers, and the city of Austin is pleading for people to slash their water consumption by 15 to 20 percent. Outdoor water use is being banned as part of what officials describe as an emergency situation. 

Austin Water advises customers to boil water for three minutes before consuming it and says that water-filtration systems alone will not remove harmful bacteria. The utility says there have been no positive tests for "bacterial infiltration" of the water system so far, but emphasizes that there is still a risk. 

With all the silt and debris, the water treatment facilities are only able to produce 105 million gallons of clean water a day. Current water usage in Austin is at about 120 million gallons a day, accoding to Austin Water. "To provide necessary water pressure for fire protection, plants must distribute water at treatment levels not typical of the utility’s high standards for consumption," the public utility said in a press release…

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City staff gets green light to research public plaza program (Austin Monitor)

While it’s fashionable in the U.S. for private enterprises to attach the word “plaza” to many things that are not, like shopping malls or condominiums, a public plaza can be hard to find (Austin’s beautiful Plaza Saltillo actually prohibits “loitering,” the primary activity in a plaza). However, City Council members now hope to generate public life by creating a systematic framework to integrate public plazas throughout the city.

Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday afternoon that tasks city staff with finding the national best practices for temporary and permanent public plaza programs and providing recommendations to the Council based on that research. From these recommendations, Council seeks to adopt a program for the creation of public plazas.

Plaza programs have gained popularity in the U.S. following the creation of New York City’s successful plaza program in 2007, now responsible for 74 partner-managed neighborhood plazas.

Attempts to create lively plazas in Austin have often been frustrated by the logistical back-and-forth between private business owners and city government over who will be responsible for providing and maintaining the space. The essence of the problem is that, as Jorge Rousselin of the Planning and Zoning Department explained to Council, a successful plaza doesn’t benefit one or two property owners, but rather the public as a whole…

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Noise enforcement called key to new push for ‘agent of change’ ordinance (Austin Monitor)

The city is making another attempt to find peace and common ground between music and entertainment venues and high-rise hotels or residences as those two land uses becoming increasingly intermixed while Austin continues to grow. A resolution passed under consent at last week’s City Council meeting directs the city manager and staff to assemble the ordinance and rules necessary to manage and prevent noise disturbances that have caused friction for hotel guests downtown and present a concern in neighborhoods around the city.

The passage sees the city revisiting the so-called “agent of change” principle for the first time in more than a year. Its goal is to create a framework where the business that is the new arrival to an area would be responsible for either managing noise levels created or keeping nearby ambient noise from music from creating a disturbance for guests and residents.

The previous attempt stalled in late spring 2017 after concerns that the hotel industry hadn’t been included in crafting the proposed agreement, which many also felt lacked the legal “teeth” needed to regulate venues’ behavior and make hotels and residential development do their part…

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Business groups launch coalition to push for statewide pre-emption of paid sick leave ordinances (Texas Tribune)

Sixteen business groups have organized a new coalition to keep “California-style policies” out of Texas workplaces — an effort that could put the nail in the coffin of paid sick leave ordinances already on shaky ground in two Texas cities.

Launched Monday, ASSET — the Alliance for Securing and Strengthening the Economy in Texas — includes several organizations that have already signed on to a legal challenge of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance, which a state appeals court temporarily blocked in August. But the new group is poised to be an influential force at the Capitol when legislators reconvene in January, especially given the opposition such measures have already drawn from conservative lawmakers. Its top aim, leaders said, is to advocate a state law pre-empting cities from enacting employment and labor measures that could put businesses at a disadvantage.

In February, Austin’s city council passed a paid sick leave ordinance that allows workers to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave per year at businesses with more than 15 employees. San Antonio followed suit in August, and in Dallas, organizers came just short of getting enough signatures to put paid sick leave on this November’s ballot…

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See also:

BG Podcast - Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business 

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

Texas Republicans push to narrow enthusiasm gap as early voting begins (Texas Tribune)

Texas Republicans, confronting long-building Democratic enthusiasm, are pressing to make up the deficit as early voting begins for the November elections — and President Donald Trump heads to the state Monday.

A slew of surrogates descended this weekend on the Houston area — historically a battleground — to boost U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in his tough re-election campaign and galvanize party faithful for down-ballot candidates. Democrats, meanwhile, prepared to turn out in force for a day many have been looking forward to since Nov. 9, 2016, with Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, carrying most of their hopes at the statewide level…

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The Donald Trump-Ted Cruz bromance, from 'Lyin' Ted' to 'total endorsement' (Dallas Morning News)

Donald Trump, the president Ted Cruz once labeled a "sniveling coward," "utterly amoral," a "pathological liar" and a "serial philanderer," will campaign Monday night in Houston for an erstwhile rival he delighted in calling "Lyin' Ted." They're hardly the first political foes to trade blows and then patch things up for expedience. And ideologically, they're more natural allies than odd couple.

But the mutual disdain and nastiness reached unusual heights even for a presidential campaign, which makes their first joint rally a must-see event, even in the age of Trump. "His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being, you know, shot," Trump said at one point during the 2016 primaries. "Nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that." Cruz warned that if Trump became president, the nation would "plunge into the abyss." "We are looking, potentially, at the Biff Tannen presidency," he said, invoking the Back to the Future character loosely based on Trump. It's all bygones now. They've partnered on tax cuts and judicial nominations. The president has issued at least one pardon on Cruz's advice. The senator routinely plays up his access to Trump. And with El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke putting a scare in Republicans, it's Trump to the rescue for Cruz, at a rally Monday night at the 18,000-seat Toyota Center. It's a remarkable chapter for a checkered bromance…

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GOP risks messy leadership struggle after November vote (PBS/Associated Press)

Win or lose in the race for the majority, House Republicans are at risk of plunging into a messy leadership battle after the November election, with the party lacking a clear heir apparent to take the place of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

President Donald Trump has signaled he’d be happy with next-in-line Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, a longtime ally whom the president calls “My Kevin.”

But Trump is also saying kind words about the No. 3 Republican, GOP Whip Steve Scalise, whom he calls the “legend from Louisiana.” Scalise survived life-threatening injuries after he was shot at a congressional baseball practice in 2017…

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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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