BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 29, 2019)

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[AUSTIN METRO]

Austin considers speed changes for safer streets (Community Impact)

In an effort to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and make streets safer, the city of Austin is taking what was once a neighborhood-focused approach and applying it citywide.

From 2014-19, the Austin Transportation Department has been installing speed cushions and other devices in an effort to control speed on neighborhood and small collector streets. In Northwest Austin on Mesa Drive south of Spicewood Springs Road where the speed limit is 30 mph, speed cushions installed in 2017 have helped reduce the number of vehicles traveling over 35 mph from almost 2,600 to about 200, according to city data.

However, new analysis of traffic collisions shows focusing speed-management efforts, such as reducing speed limits, on major roadways could have a greater impact on reducing the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries resulting from traffic collisions… (LINK TO STORY)


UT Police Ask Austin To Prohibit Camping, Sitting Or Lying Down Near West Campus (KUT)

The University of Texas Police Department is calling on city leaders to ban camping on public space near the Forty Acres.

In a letter to Mayor Steve Adler and members of the Austin City Council, UTPD Chief David Carter asked the city to prohibit encampments near the West Campus area, citing safety concerns among students living in the dense neighborhood across from campus. Since the city council passed revised rules on where people can rest, camp or panhandle, he said, his department has responded to more calls about "predatory and harassing behavior" along the strip of Guadalupe Street known as the Drag… (LINK TO STORY)


Matthew McConaughey joins University of Texas at Austin faculty as professor (The Hill)

Actor Matthew McConaughey is joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin as a professor, the university said Wednesday.

McConaughey, who graduated from the university with a film degree in 1993, will become a professor of practice in the Moody College of Communication as a member of the department of radio-television-film faculty starting in the fall 2019 term, the university said in a news release.

"We are proud to welcome Professor McConaughey to officially join our world-class faculty," Moody College Dean Jay Bernhardt said. "Matthew cares deeply for our school and our students, and we are thrilled that he shares his time and talent to help prepare the next generation of media leaders and innovators."… (LINK TO STORY)


Austin’s Bazaarvoice acquires New York product review firm (Austin American-Statesman)

Austin software company Bazaarvoice said Wednesday it has acquired New York-based product review platform Influenster.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2005 by tech industry veterans Brett Hurt and Brant Barton, Bazaarvoice initially focused on selling software that lets businesses add reviews to their websites.

The company has since expanded its offerings to let brands and retailers analyze reviews, ratings, videos and other content posted by customers about their products. Bazaarvoice’s software is on more than 6,000 global brand and retailer websites, according to the company.

“The decision to join forces with Influenster epitomizes Bazaarvoice’s commitment to connecting brands with consumers and consumers with one another through user-generated content,” Bazaarvoice CEO Joe Davis said in a written statement.

Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of Influenster will allow the company to get brands and retailers in front of millennials and Gen Z customers. Influenster has more than 38 million product reviews, and its users create more than 50,000 pieces of content per day… (LINK TO STORY)


[TEXAS] 

820 new Texas laws go into effect in September. Here are some that might affect you. (Texas Tribune)

This Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways. Here's a sample of several that will impact Texans' lives… (LINK TO STORY)


Continuing construction worker shortages could pose a threat to economic development in Texas (Dallas Morning News)

A majority of multimillion-dollar Texas construction firms say they're having trouble hiring qualified workers in trade specializations across the board, the Associated General Contractors of America says. The association conducted a survey of more than 2,000 construction firms across the U.S., including 210 in Texas, and found that 80% of firms nationwide say they're struggling to recruit the skilled workers they need.

In Texas, 84% of the firms surveyed reported having ongoing trouble hiring for skilled hourly worker positions. When it came to hiring for salaried positions, 60% reported having trouble. The companies said they had the most difficulty hiring project managers and supervisors compared with the previous year. A majority of firms reported shortages in almost every trade in the survey, including iron workers, plumbers, truck drivers and carpenters… (LINK TO STORY)


Houston gets hotter in 2020 with up to 11 competitive Texas House races (Houston Chronicle)

State Rep. Jon Rosenthal wasn’t supposed to win his Texas House seat last year. He was too much of a Democrat for the swath of northwest Harris County that had long elected Republicans. But in the 2018 election, amid buzz over Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and frustration with the Trump administration, the longtime engineer and first-time candidate emerged as one of a dozen Democrats to turn a Republican seat blue.

Now Rosenthal, 56, has a political target on his back. Republican operatives say Rosenthal’s seat is one of about a dozen nestled in the Texas suburbs that they can win back. Most of the hottest races are expected in the Houston area or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Nearly $2 million has already been poured into coffers for candidates as both parties brace for the fight. Democrats will have to work the hardest to defend their new turf in Harris County, analysts say, after flipping two seats by slim margins in 2018… (LINK TO STORY)


[NATION]

Trump officials say children of some service members overseas will not get automatic citizenship (The Hill)

The Trump administration said Wednesday that the children of some U.S. military members and government employees working overseas will no longer automatically be considered United States citizens.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy that in some cases rescinds previous guidance stating that children of U.S. service members and other government employees abroad are considered “residing in the United States” and automatically given citizenship under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)… (LINK TO STORY)


[BG PODCAST]

We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

Episode 36: Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P., Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department, on Austin Strategic Mobility Plan

“A good land use plan is also a good transportation plan, and so they have to work hand in hand.” - Annick Beaudet

On today’s episode we speak with Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P. - Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) over Transportation Engineering, Transportation Systms Development Division, Special Events and the Active Transportation Division.

Annick and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP), Austin’s new city-wide transportation plan... (LINK TO SHOW)


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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