BG Reads | News You Need to Know (June 28, 2019)



‘Shot clock’ bill resets development review time (Austin Monitor)

As Austin city leaders had their attention focused on the 3.5 percent tax cap that moved through the Texas Legislature, legislators were busy approving a bill that could have a serious impact on the city’s efforts to regulate development. The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, which supported the bill, calls it the “shot clock” bill, because it’s intended to speed up the development review process.

Andrew Linseisen, assistant director of the Development Services Department, told the Austin Monitor Thursday that he and other city officials are still studying the impacts of House Bill 3167, which will go into effect on Sept. 1.

While emphasizing that the department has improved considerably over the years, Linseisen said complying with the new regulations “will definitely be very challenging.”… (LINK TO STORY)

$800 Million Makeover Plan For Walter E. Long Park Includes Planetarium, Ferris Wheel (KUT)

Austin’s Parks and Recreation Board unanimously endorsed a plan this week to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for improvements at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.

The master plan calls for investing more than $800 million to completely transform the 3,700-acre park in East Austin. A few of the dozens of amenities laid out in the plan include a marina, an event lawn, a planetarium and a Ferris wheel.

If approved by the city, the first phase would cover about 300 acres at the southern end of the park. Development during this phase is estimated to cost $144 million, with $26 million from private funders, and includes plans for a rowing course and a “floating water sports zone.” … (LINK TO STORY)

Samsung, AT&T work to turn science fiction into reality inside 5G Innovation Center (Austin Business Journal)

Samsung and AT&T Inc. are partnering to bring 5G technology to the manufacturing world.

Samsung Austin Semiconductor LLC, Samsung Electronics America Inc. and AT&T on June 21 unveiled the 5G Innovation Zone at Samsung’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in North Austin. The companies have worked together for years, but this specific room is the culmination of six months of collaboration.

5G is the next generation of high-speed wireless service — one that will deliver more bandwidth and faster downloads and uploads, while also improving wireless reliability and connectivity. Many suggest it will usher in a fourth industrial revolution.

Key to that transformative power is the steep reduction of latency, or how long it takes for data to travel from one wireless device to another… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 44: Austin 5G Update with Bob Digneo, Assistant VP, External and Regulatory Affairs at AT&T

Confused About Austin ISD's Decision To Close Schools? You're Not Alone. (KUT)

The Austin Independent School District is in the middle of a process to decide which schools to close and consolidate in the city. It announced in February the closures needed to happen to help the district’s financial situation; later that month, the board approved the move. 

Since then, district staff have been trying to explain why the closures are happening and how AISD will choose which schools to consolidate. They’ve held meetings and gathered input from the community… (LINK TO STORY)


Julián Castro's campaign had been stalled for months. Wednesday's debate gave it new life. (Texas Tribune)

Before Wednesday night, even some longtime Julián Castro fans had been privately wondering if his presidential campaign was effectively over.

In a Democratic field that includes political novices and back-bench U.S. House members, the former San Antonio mayor and Obama cabinet member had become an afterthought.

“He just had been forgotten,” said Moses Mercado, a Democratic lobbyist who is close to a number of Texas members of Congress.

Then came the first debate… (LINK TO STORY)

Here's what's in the $4.6 billion border aid bill passed by Congress (Texas Tribune)

Amid a raging nationwide debate over the dire conditions of migrant detention centers, the U.S. House and Senate rushed to pass legislation this week to address a crisis at the U.S-Mexico border.

The Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate initially approved separate bills with about $4.5 billion aimed at improving conditions in overcrowded migrant detention centers. The bills proposed allocating money differently and offered different levels of assurance that the Trump administration puts the appropriations to their intended use.

But as calls to address the humanitarian situation at the border grew, leaders in both chambers were on a collision course as they scrambled to address the situation ahead of a weeklong July 4 recess. The House ultimately passed the Senate's version, which now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. Here's a look at how the bills compared… (LINK TO STORY)


In major elections ruling, U.S. Supreme Court allows partisan map drawing (Reuters)

In a major blow to election reformers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected efforts to rein in electoral map manipulation by politicians aimed at entrenching one party in power, a practice known as partisan gerrymandering that critics have said warps democracy.

The justices, in a landmark 5-4 ruling that could reverberate through U.S. politics for years to come, ruled for the first time that federal judges do not have the authority to curb partisan gerrymandering - a decision that could embolden state lawmakers to intensify use of the practice. (LINK TO STORY)

America's Biggest Police Body-Cam Manufacturer Bans Face Recognition Surveillance—for Now (Gizmodo)

Axon, America’s biggest police body camera manufacturer, is currently banning the use of face recognition technology in its products after its independent ethics board said Thursday that the “technology is not yet reliable enough to justify its use on body-worn cameras” due to “unequal and unreliable performance across races, ethnicities, genders and other identity groups.”

Once primarily known for selling the Taser, Axon is now a $300 million company selling a suite of technologies including police body cameras to 17,000 law enforcement agencies in over 100 countries. The company also sells so-called “smart weapons” for military and government use. (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

City audit says Austin police could be better about keeping track of body camera footage (Austin Monitor)


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

BG Podcast Episode 3: Chas Moore, President and Co-Founder of the Austin Justice Coalition

Today's podcast was originally recorded on April 2, 2018. It was Bingham Group's first recording, and features a discussion between Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham, and Chas Moore, President and Co-Founder of the Austin Justice Coalition (AJC).

On June 19, 2019 Chas was named a recipient of the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship, receiving up to $150,000 his ideas into meaningful action.


The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


Twitter #binghamgp 

Instagram #binghamgp