BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 24, 2019)



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


This September Is On Track To Be The Hottest Ever In Austin (KUT)

There was a time when it seemed like summer could have gone differently: A wet spring and relatively mild June had us thinking maybe this year wouldn’t be so bad.

Boy, that didn’t last long. 

“Yeah, we dried out pretty quick and soil started to dry out,” Brett Williams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said. “So we had a very, very warm and very, very dry ... July and things got really bad in August.”

Williams said this September is solidly on track to be the hottest ever in Austin. This month has already set a new record when it comes to triple-digit days: We’ve had 17, so far. Before this year, September 2011 held the record with 14 triple-digit days.

Altogether, the city’s had 55 triple-digit days this year.

“We’re currently sitting in fifth overall all time for 100-degree days in Austin,” Williams said… (LINK TO STORY)

Apple to make new Mac Pro in Austin after securing tariff waivers (Austin Business Journal)

Apple confirmed its new Mac Pro will be made in Austin, Texas, after the iPhone maker secured tariff waivers on certain components in a tussle with Washington.

Apple’s stock has proven vulnerable to trade tensions this year as Washington threatened and implemented a 10 per cent tariff on $300bn worth of Chinese goods.

When Apple sought a waver, President Trump tweeted on July 26: “Apple will not be given Tariff wavers, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”

Apple reportedly looked into moving production of the high-end computer to China and also explored the idea of relocating up to 30 per cent of its manufacturing capacity from China to south-east Asia.

Apple has said little about the negotiations but on Monday said: “The US manufacturing of Mac Pro is made possible following a federal product exclusion Apple is receiving for certain necessary components.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin jobless rate dips to 2.8% for August, a 20-year low (Austin American-Statesman)

Get ready for the already abundant “Help Wanted” signs around Austin to multiply, because the region’s latest unemployment rate is once again at a 20-year monthly low and growth in the pool of available workers is continuing to ebb.

The local jobless rate for August came in at 2.8%, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, about average so far in 2019 but the lowest level for the month of August since 1999, when it hit 2.2%. Unemployment in the Austin metro area registered 2.9% in July this year and 3.1% in August 2018.

“The Austin (job) market is white-hot,” said Michael Sury, a University of Texas economist and finance lecturer. “It points to the fact that Austin continues to be a very strong draw for high-growth businesses.”

Meanwhile, the local civilian labor force hasn’t been expanding as fast as in previous years, potentially stretching the pool of available workers even thinner. The labor force increased by 1.6% during the 12-month period ending in August, Workforce Commission data shows, compared with growth rates of 2.8% and 3.5% during the 12-month periods ending in August 2018 and August 2017, respectively… (LINK TO STORY)


Turnout among young Texas voters exploded in 2018. Groups want to make it even bigger in 2020 (Texas Tribune)

The next presidential election may be more than a year away, but groups working to get young people in the state civically engaged have been beefing up their operations for a while now. One of those groups, MOVE Texas, has experienced a massive growth in staff, organizers and investments.

“Our budget has increased something near 900% in the past two years,” said Charlie Bonner, MOVE’s communications manager. “We are really seeing people start to invest in Texas in a way they never have before.” Texas has one of the youngest populations in the country. In fact, only Utah, Alaska and the District of Columbia have younger populations – and not by much. It’s projected that by 2022, 1 in 3 voters in Texas will be under 30. “There is a lot of potential there,” said Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a lecturer at UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. “Young folks don’t tend to register, don’t tend to vote at the same rates that older folks do.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Trial Begins For Former Dallas Cop Who Killed Unarmed Black Neighbor (NPR)

A white former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her unarmed black neighbor in his apartment goes on trial in Dallas on Monday.

The former officer, Amber Guyger said she entered the wrong apartment thinking it was her own, and shot 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean because she thought he was a burglar.

Jury selection began earlier this month, one year to the date of the slaying of Jean, which happened on Sept. 6, 2018. Jean was an up-and-coming associate at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Dallas and a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia…(LINK TO STORY)

Repeat flooding has residents asking: Is Houston worth it? (Houston Chronicle)

As the flood-weary city of Houston recovers from yet another historic storm in the coming days, rubber-gloved mucking brigades and tow truck armies will swoop in to clean up the physical mess. But more and more, Houstonians are finding that the toll of these repeated floods reaches far beyond the physical. The events have changed the very way our city feels.

A Rice University study published earlier this month found that nearly 20 percent of flood victims surveyed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey reported post-flood PTSD, depression and anxiety. And more than 70 percent said the prospect of future flood events was a source of worry. Harvey was the third “500-year” rain event to hit Southeast Texas in three years. This week, Tropical Storm Imelda also earned that distinction, as some areas received more than 40 inches of rain, paralyzing the area as highways morphed into parking lots and first responders performed more than 2,000 rescues Thursday alone. And many residents are now asking themselves: Is Houston worth it?… (LINK TO STORY)


Trump, Indian Prime Minister Modi emphasize friendship at Houston event (Texas Tribune)

President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed off their growing friendship Sunday, just miles away from one of the largest Indian American communities in the state.

The leaders of two of the world's largest democracies addressed thousands at NRG Stadium at an event called Howdy Modi that featured Indian cultural dances amid drill team routines performed to country music, drawing on the experience of Indian Americans living in Texas.

The pair praised each other extensively during their speeches, including their respective efforts to improve each country's economy and trade relationships… (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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