BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 19, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 53 - Budget and Policy Talk with Austin Council Member Jimmy Flannigan (LINK TO SHOW)


Council Hears Hours Of Testimony On Austin's Homelessness Ordinances Ahead Of Friday Vote (KUT)

Austin City Council members heard testimony on revisions to its homelessness rules ahead of an expected vote Friday that could reinstate restrictions on camping and resting in public.

The majority of those who testified Wednesday said they supported efforts to walk back previous restrictions on behavior related to homelessness. Those earlier restrictions led to unpaid tickets, which, in turn, resulted in arrest warrants, creating barriers for people trying to transition out of homelessness.

City Council could pass a plan to bring back restrictions on certain streets. Much of the public testimony suggested the city stick with ordinances passed on June 20, however. That decision sparked a larger, divisive discussion on public safety and public health issues associated with homelessness – with opponents arguing the relaxed rules have increased crime… (LINK TO STORY)

Deep-pocketed co-living company wants to make a splash in Austin (Austin Business Journal)

A global co-living business is homing in on Austin as part of its big U.S. expansion.

Germany-based Quarters plans to open in 2021 a five-story, 120-bedroom co-living facility at 1108 Nueces St. downtown, according to a Sept. 18 announcement — replacing a low-slung office building currently on the site. The company said it would be Austin's largest space for co-living, usually defined as housing where residents share communal areas such as kitchens.

To be sure, communal living has a long history in Austin, especially in the housing cooperatives and student-housing buildings located near the University of Texas.

But Quarters is part of a growing trend of global co-living aimed also at the professional tech and creative classes, partly in response to soaring housing costs in many big cities. The number of co-living units developed by major companies in the U.S. will triple to about 10,000 over the next few years, according to a May report from Cushman & Wakefield… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin ISD Says Second Draft Of School Changes Will Emphasize Academics Districtwide (KUT)

At a live discussion of the Austin Independent School District's proposal to overhaul the entire district, school officials said the idea is about more than just closings. Meanwhile, city leaders said there's room to grow to bring more equitable opportunities to students. 

KUT hosted the show during Morning Edition to try and answer questions parents and community members have asked since the proposal was released Sept. 5… (LINK TO STORY)


With ‘Howdy, Modi!’ Houston’s Indian community says hello to the world (Houston Chronicle)

On Sunday, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Houston is expected to attract more than 50,000 people to NRG Stadium — plus roughly a thousand volunteers, 400 singers and dancers, U.S. President Donald Trump and a significant protest outside.

The mammoth event — exuberantly named “Howdy, Modi!” — reflects the growing size, power and complexity of the Indian-American community, both in the Houston area and the U.S. “People I talk to are beyond excited,” said Houston novelist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. “They are throwing themselves into it heart and soul. I have friends who are volunteering for this event as if it’s a full-time job. “This is going to be a kind of family celebration. We want to say, ‘Look at our community here! We are successful. We are strong. We have done good things for Houston!’ We would like Modi to know all of this.”…(LINK TO STORY)

Texas Green Party has qualified for 2020 ballot and welcomes Democrats’ climate change focus (San Antonio Express-News)

The Green Party will be back on the ballot in Texas for the 2020 elections, just as the party’s main topic — climate change — is becoming a major political issue. A new state law that came into effect on September 1 lowered the threshold for retaining ballot access, qualifying the Green Party of Texas for the ballot at least through 2026. The Greens had last appeared on Texas ballots in 2016.

The Texas Greens don’t expect the Democrats to implement their goals, and they don’t trust the Democrats’ green agenda. “We wish that those Democrats would (a) give us credit and (b) retain the portions guaranteeing a 'just transition' away from fossil fuels by 2030,” stressed David Collins, who is serving as a co-chair of the Green Party Houston. He adds: “The Democratic Party continues to take millions of dollars of corporate interests - including the fossil fuel industry.”… (LINK TO STORY)


California Governor Signs Law Protecting Gig Economy Workers (NPR)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping new labor law Wednesday extending wage and benefit protections to about a million workers and aimed primarily at drivers contracted by ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Newsom had argued that when workers are misclassified as independent contractors rather than as employees, they lose basic benefits such as minimum wage, paid sick days, and health insurance.

"The hollowing out of our middle-class has been 40 years in the making, and the need to create lasting economic security for our workforce demands action," Newsom said in his signing statement… (LINK TO STORY)


Economic Development: Opportunity Zones

The term “Opportunity Zone” has been buzzing around for a little while but it seems like things could be ramping up. While the tax benefits associated with the program accrue at the federal level, the City of Austin is also exploring how they might be able to leverage City resources to realize greater benefits… (LINK TO STORY)

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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