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



Council wants to look at 380 agreements again (Austin Monitor)

A $165,000 economic development agreement between the city of Austin and Austin Community College to help the college provide and maintain what is described as “leading edge” technology equipment for ACC’s fashion incubator could be an early casualty of Council’s drive to save money in the face of the legislatively mandated 3.5 percent revenue caps. Although the caps will not be in effect when Council makes budget decisions in August, Council members are clearly thinking about how they can spend less in the upcoming year.

At Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan indicated that he would vote no on funding for the equipment, even though he has no questions about the quality of the program… (LINK TO STORY)

Also check out our past BG Podcasts with David Colligan, Assistant Director Economic Development Department, City of Austin:

BG Episode 23 - Discussing the Austin City Council’s passage of a framework for restructuring the city’s economic incentives programs

BG Episode 12 - Discussing the nature of and misconceptions about Chapter 380 Agreements

Huge project planned for Statesman site (Austin American-Statesman)

A massive mixed-use project calling for 3.5 million square feet of development — including one building taller than Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin — is being proposed for a prime waterfront site that currently houses the Austin American-Statesman just south of Lady Bird Lake.

A master plan for the high-profile 18.9-acre tract at 305 S. Congress Ave. envisions building on more than 6 acres of the site. There would be six or seven buildings, from office towers as high as 40 stories to condominiums or apartments, one or two hotels, retail and restaurant space, and possibly even a grocery store. The high rise buildings’ 3.5 million square feet would be 2.5 times the total area of Barton Creek Square mall.

The remaining 12.5 acres would have public uses. Those could include a 7.5-acre waterfront park, plazas, new roads, sidewalks and more connections to and along the Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake, with a boardwalk and pier also contemplated. The vision also includes an amphitheater and enhanced bat-viewing area by the Congress Avenue Bridge… (LINK TO STORY)

Travis County changes course on electronic monitoring (Austin Monitor)

The electronic monitoring business just got a little bit more competitive in Travis County. The Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday to abandon its practice of allowing only a single company to provide tracking devices to those accused or convicted of certain crimes.

Earlier this month, county staff recommended that Dallas-based Recovery Healthcare take over the business of providing GPS ankle bracelets, which in recent years had been provided by local firm Victim Safety First. Staff also recommended that Recovery continue being the sole provider of SCRAM alcohol monitoring devices, which are required for some of those accused of alcohol-related offenses.

Outcry from other contractors, as well as criticism of requiring defendants to get their devices from one company, led the commissioners to call for a do-over of sorts… (LINK TO STORY)

Hutto scores state tax earnings ahead of Perfect Game construction (Community Impact)

With additional funds secured through state tax revenue, Hutto is up to bat and ready to take a swing at plans for the city’s first convention center and hotel.

The city announced June 18 their successful endeavor to acquire the state’s portion of hotel occupancy and sales taxes earnings to offset construction costs.

“I want to thank Senator Schwertner, Representative Talarico and Governor Abbott along with many, many others, including our lobbying team led by former House of Representative Larry Gonzales and Emily Parks, our assistant to the city manager,” said City Manager Odis Jones, in a news release. “This is a game changer and major first step of many more to come to make the Perfect Game deal and this development a reality for the Austin region.”… (LINK TO STORY)


John Cornyn has never lost an election. He's trying to convince Texas Republicans that his streak is in jeopardy in 2020. (Texas Tribune)

John Cornyn is an enigma.

It may not be his own doing. After all, it should be counterintuitive to describe the most powerful Texan to serve in the U.S. Senate since Lyndon Johnson as a shrinking violet.

But Cornyn is an outlier within a generation of larger-than-life Texas politicians who have become national fixtures for smiling in mugshots, blowing up their own party’s national conventions in a hail of jeers, livestreaming road trips, bragging about snuffing out a coyote while jogging, or filibustering while wearing pink sneakers or reading Dr. Seuss.

It seems like flamboyance and ambition for higher office are historical prerequisites for any Texan serving in an office as high profile as the U.S. Senate… (LINK TO STORY)

Hispanics get more political clout in Dallas, North Texas as new, younger leaders emerge (Dallas Morning News)

Six years ago, Hispanic residents in Dallas had made population gains but lost clout at City Hall. At the time, political observers expected the Dallas City Council to field four Hispanic members. Instead, the number fell to two.

The last year has brought a rousing reversal of fortune that mirrors what's occurring across the state and nationally, as younger Hispanics are winning elections in partisan and non-partisan races. The council, after Monday's inauguration, now has five Hispanic representatives. Those candidates won both in districts with favorable demographics and in areas once dominated by white and black members… (LINK TO STORY)


Biden says he can beat Trump in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas (Bloomberg)

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Monday he plans to campaign during the general election and win in South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, states that have consistently supported Republicans for about four decades.

Georgia most recently backed a Democrat in 1992, and that was Bill Clinton. The last Democrat who carried Georgia, South Carolina and Texas together was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Biden’s remarks came in response to a question about whether he plans to campaign in the South and the Sun Belt. He mentioned that he visited Alabama in 2017 to support Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat who won a special election in the traditionally red state… (LINK TO STORY)

Trump Launches Reelection Bid With Promises Of Greatness And Familiar Grievances (NPR)

President Trump officially launched his 2020 reelection bid on Tuesday at a massive rally in Orlando, though much of the event picked up where his 2016 campaign left off.

Trump relished in reliving his unlikely victory two and a half years ago over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. As the crowd broke into chants of "lock her up," he teased about still trying to search for missing emails on her private server and the possibility his Justice Department could look into prosecuting the former secretary of state… (LINK TO STORY)


REGULATION: New City of Austin Mandatory Alternative Water Systems Proposed

At an Austin Energy Green Building seminar last week, the Bingham Group learned of a new proposal from the City of Austin that could make onsite alternative water systems mandatory for new commercial development over 250,000 square feet.

Examples of these systems, also referred to as water reuse or water recycling systems, include rainwater, greywater, stormwater, and condensate water systems.

The City’s desire is to have non-potable water supplied through these onsite systems. The effort was directed by the City Council via an amendment to a larger motion adopted on May 2, 2019 to provide direction on the Land Development Code revision process (i.e., CodeNEXT)… (LINK TO POST)

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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