BG Reads | News You Need to Know (July 11, 2019)



Camping rules continue to stoke arguments (Austin Monitor)

City Council’s decision to revise ordinances related to where homeless people may camp, sit or lie down continues to cause controversy in the city, with some claiming the changes are making things worse for everyone, particularly law enforcement.

Mayor Steve Adler has been a major target of ire on the Austin Police Association Facebook page. One poster suggested that the W Hotel, where the mayor lives, has “wonderful” camping sites and restrooms: “Please, try camping at the W Hotel! And be sure to say ‘Hi!’ to the Mayor for me!” (The statement was later removed from Facebook.)

An Austin Police Association post ascribed to an officer with four years in the downtown area command described events following a double shooting on East Sixth Street over the weekend: “Just another night on Dirty 6th! The most appalling part of this was the violently uncooperative crowd around the scene that refused to follow police orders resulting in multiple arrests while two critically injured shooting victims lay on the ground.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Leander considers ways to slow apartment construction — like encouraging all-masonry apartments (Austin Business Journal)

Williamson County is seeing a boom of multifamily residential development — but one of its suburbs wants to pump the brakes.

Leander could incentivize multifamily development such as apartment complexes that are built with 100 percent masonry, and some leaders have even floated the idea of requiring it of all new construction. That latter suggestion alarmed one business group involved in apartment construction because of its possible impact on affordability. Masonry refers to high-quality stonework.

Leander City Council voted 5-2 on July 9 to ask city staff to bring back an ordinance providing incentives for multifamily developments built entirely with masonry. Staff will research what policies other cities have and what sort of construction regulations Leander can legally enforce… (LINK TO STORY)

Music Commission set to finalize proposal process for creative space bonds (Austin Monitor)

The city’s Music Commission hopes to make a decision by September on how arts and music groups will be able to submit proposals to receive some of the city’s $12 million in creative spaces funding.

At last week’s meeting, commissioners agreed, without passing an official resolution, to come to the August meeting with consensus on what requirements and priorities would have to be built into a request for proposal process. That decision came after a presentation about previous city bond proposals, and how the broad language in the bond question approved by voters in November has created a somewhat nebulous path for proposals to be accepted and evaluated.

Christine Maguire, manager of the city’s Redevelopment Division, said the bond proposal’s inclusion with arts and cultural facilities makes it expected that projects would need to be largely open to the public, with economic development and financial performance not a primary concern… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas Gov. Abbott Tells Cities And Residents To Prepare As Storm Develops In The Gulf (KUT)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday urged city leaders and residents to prepare for potential severe weather this weekend.

A storm system in the Gulf of Mexico could potentially make landfall as a tropical storm or even a hurricane. Abbott said the storm could drop about 10 inches of rain from the Houston area to the Louisiana border. It could also affect coastal regions.  

“Begin preparing your property, your supplies, your lines of communication to your family members,” he said. “Begin preparing to know exactly where you need to go if you need to evacuate."… (LINK TO STORY)

Dallas Democrat Royce West schedules potential announcement of Senate campaign against John Cornyn (Dallas Morning News)

Royce West is one step closer to running against Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. The Dallas Democrat has announced a news conference for July 22, where he's widely expected to launch a campaign for Senate.

The longtime state senator would join a Democratic Party primary that already includes former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar of Round Rock and former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston. And Houston council member Amanda Edwards is considering mounting a campaign as well. Cornyn isn't expected to have a major primary challenge to his re-election bid. On Wednesday Cornyn told reporters on a conference call that he expected a spirited Democratic primary… (LINK TO STORY)

Houston to host third debate in Democratic presidential primary (Texas Tribune)

he third debate in the Democratic presidential primary will be in Houston, party officials announced late Tuesday.

The event, sponsored by ABC News and Univision, is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13.

"Texas is a battleground state, period," Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. "We know that when Texas goes blue, the White House will follow. We are pleased that our partners at the Democratic National Committee have agreed to host the third Presidential Debate here in Texas."

Party officials did not immediately say where in Houston the debates would be held… (LINK TO STORY)


Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Defends His Handling Of Jeffrey Epstein Plea Deal (NPR)

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended a 2008 plea agreement he oversaw as a U.S. attorney in Florida in which multimillionaire and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein got a light sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to state charges.

"Facts are important, and facts are being overlooked," Acosta told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

Acosta has come under heavy scrutiny now that federal prosecutors in New York have brought a new case against Epstein, charging him with serious crimes, including sex trafficking of minors. If found guilty, Epstein could face up to 45 years in prison… (LINK TO STORY)


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

Today we share Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham’s March 2019 feature on the The Lobbying Show, a podcast profiling lobbyists and government affairs professionals working in D.C. and state capitals across the country. (LINK TO SHOW)



As reported previously here, the City of Austin is exploring potential requirements that would mandate that 

  1. New developments submit water balance applications;

  2. Developments over 250,000 square feet use alternative and onsite waters to meet indoor and outdoor non-potable water demands. 

The timeline is particularly quick as City staff is working to develop proposed ordinance language by this fall… (LINK TO BLOG)

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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