BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 25, 2019)

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[BG PODCAST]

NEW -> Episode 54: Austin Market Perspective with Zach Cannon of The Burt Group (LINK TO SHOW)


[AUSTIN METRO]

Pushing land use equity, new coalition looks to build new activists around city policies (Austin Monitor)

A cross section of local social justice and housing activists have joined the four Council members representing the city’s Eastern Crescent communities to advocate for more equity and inclusion of people of color in the city’s housing plans.

The group, known as Planning Our Communities, held a press conference at City Hall Tuesday to announce its formation and its aim to increase public engagement in the city’s ethnic and other marginalized communities. Because the group has no plans to register as a nonprofit, it has no formal funding at this point.

Council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria and Greg Casar and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza spoke about the city’s recent progress in adding diversity to City Council, and increasing the numbers of people of color participating in forums and other activities that can broaden the scope of city policy… (LINK TO STORY)


Here's When Austin ISD Will Hold Public Meetings On School Closures (KUT)

The Austin Independent School District is holding a series of public meetings at schools affected by its proposal to close and consolidate 12 campuses across the district.

These are the first meetings AISD is hosting with parents after it proposed dramatic changes throughout the district, including closings, consolidations and program expansions… (LINK TO STORY)


Travis County commissioners approve fiscal year 2019-20 tax rate and budget in response to ‘terrible public policy’ (Community Impact)

Despite concern for taxpayers and reticence about approaching the 8% rollback rate, Travis County commissioners voted unanimously to approve its $1.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2019-20 and a tax rate of $0.367 per $100 of taxable value to balance it.

“I think all of us are aware that this is probably not the most acceptable budget to the majority of the public,” said Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3, at a Sept. 24 meeting.

Currently, state law allows for taxing entities to increase property tax revenue by up to 8% year-over-year. If a taxing entity exceeds that rate—known as the rollback rate—a rollback election is triggered, giving voters the chance to approve or reject the proposed increase.

Under the approved tax rate, the owner of an average-value home will see an annual increase of around $121 in their property tax bill to the county… (LINK TO STORY)


Austin lands another nonstop flight to Europe (Austin Business Journal)

Austin travelers will soon be able to fly to the Netherlands on a nonstop basis.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced it will operate direct service between Amsterdam and the Texas capital starting in May 2020. Officials celebrated the new international route from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at a Sept. 24 news conference at Austin City Hall.

"This is an exciting morning," Mayor Steve Adler said. "It is a really exciting mark of the growth of the city, of the further entry of Austin as an international city."

"It has the opportunity and promise to further connect our city with the world," he added.

The route will fly three times a week — Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays — beginning on May 4, 2020, according to the announcement… (LINK TO STORY)


Long Center joins campaign against proposition meant to undo soccer stadium deal (Austin American-Statesman)

The Long Center for the Performing Arts is diving into politics as the local nonprofit campaigned Tuesday against a voter proposition that its detractors say could lead to a $2.5 million property tax bill for the organization.

Long Center leaders allowed its oft-photographed vista of downtown to serve as the backdrop for a press event Tuesday that included Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Greg Casar and the center’s president, Cory Baker, speaking out against the petition-initiated Proposition A. The initiative is designed to halt the city’s efforts to build a Major League Soccer stadium in North Austin.

“We believe that access to the arts is a fundamental right for all Austinites,” Baker said. “Proposition A is a threat to that fundamental right. And we urge everyone in Austin to vote no on Proposition A.”

Some have questioned whether it is proper for a nonprofit such as the Long Center to wade into politics. Election law prevents tax-exempt nonprofits from campaigning for or against candidates. However, nothing prevents tax-exempt organizations from campaigning against a ballot measure… (LINK TO STORY)


[TEXAS] 

All 13 Texas Democrats in Congress have expressed willingness to impeach Donald Trump (Texas Tribune)

With the U.S. House of Representatives preparing to move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry, all 13 Texas Democrats in the Congress have indicated that they are open to impeaching President Donald Trump.

Six Texans jumped on board Tuesday after recent reports that Trump asked the Ukranian president to investigate the business activities of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden. Those Texans were U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas, Lizzie Fletcher of Houston, Sylvia Garcia of Houston, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Henry Cuellar of Laredo. Some stopped short of calling for Trump to be impeached immediately but indicated that they would back it if a House investigation proves it's needed or if a whistleblower's complaint about the president isn't turned over to Congress soon… (LINK TO STORY)


[NATION]

Can someone be fired for being gay? The Supreme Court will decide (New York Times)

The Supreme Court has delivered a remarkable series of victories to the gay rights movement over the last two decades, culminating in a ruling that established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But in more than half the states, someone can still be fired for being gay.

Early in its new term, on Oct. 8, the court will consider whether an existing federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, guarantees nationwide protection from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people, even in states that offer no protections right now. It will be the court’s first case on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions. And without Justice Kennedy, who joined four liberals in the 5-to-4 ruling in the marriage case, the workers who sued their employers in the three cases before the court may face an uphill fight… (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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