BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 11, 2019)
Council strongly opposes property tax bills (Austin Monitor)
As Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen calls the chamber to order today, Austin’s City Council will begin working its way through its regular agenda. That agenda includes a resolution adamantly rejecting House Bill 2, the property tax bill that proposes to lower the property tax revenue cap from its current 8 percent to 2.5 percent for cities and counties.
Only tax revenue generated by new properties would be exempt from the 2.5 percent cap. If a city or county approved a budget raising city taxes by more than 2.5 percent on previously taxed properties, it would automatically trigger an election on the tax hike. Under current law, citizens must petition for an election if a taxing jurisdiction goes beyond the 8 percent cap.
Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and Council members Jimmy Flannigan, Ann Kitchen and Greg Casar are holding a press conference before the Council meeting to discuss the resolution, which states that if the 2.5 percent revenue cap is enacted, the city of Austin “will face a $51.7 million deficit in three years.” This is no secret to anyone who listens to the city’s budget presentations and Council has already directed its lobbyists to oppose the measure… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin's next tech HQ: Software maker Zoho bringing hundreds of jobs to site near airport (Austin Business Journal)
Zoho Corp., a California-based software and information technology company, has selected Austin as its new U.S. headquarters and will build a 100,000-square-foot campus on 375 acres on the southeast side of town.
The land near Kellam Road and State Highway 71 that Zoho Corp. purchased ultimately will be home to between 400 and 500 employees, said Raju Vegesna, the company’s chief evangelist.
“Quality of life for our employees” was the primary driver behind the decision, Vegesna said. Campus construction is projected to be completed in 2021, he added. About 60 Zoho employees already work in Austin, which is expected to double during the next 12 months. The company last year leased more than 27,000 square feet at Bergstrom Tech Center near the airport, according to ATX Real Estate News… (LINK TO STORY)
Bastrop's Land-Use Revisions Aim To Cater To New Development, While Maintaining Authenticity (KUT)
Bastrop residents and city staff got their first look at ideas to help mitigate the city's flooding problems at the Transportation and Drainage Rodeo on Tuesday.
The community event was part of the process to update land-use regulations after concerns that ramped-up development is impacting the drainage system in the growing city of almost 9,000 people. Bastrop has had three major floods in recent years, resulting in substantial damages and repair costs.
Matt Lewis with Simplecity Design, a nonprofit helping Bastrop with the revamp, said developers want to take the city's existing grid-like buildout and expand it.
"The fact that the buildings have been in the same configuration for 187 years says that they worked," he said. "We're re-extracting that character and reintroducing it back to the city" to make it more walkable, while also allowing cars to be prevalent… (LINK TO STORY)
Region failing to keep up with expectations of clean air (Austin Monitor)
The city of Austin may soon lose its standing as the largest city in the nation that is in conformity with federal air quality standards. If air quality doesn’t improve from last year, Austin and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization region risks joining the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions with a “marginal non-attainment” status for unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone (O3) gas.
If the region does fall out of attainment, Andrew Hoekzema, director of regional services at the Capital Area Council of Governments, told the CAMPO Transportation Policy Board on Monday evening that the region could be proud of its efforts, like the 2004 Early Action Compact, to maintain its safe air quality, but that the consequences will likely be immediate and long-lasting.
The Environmental Protection Agency measures the region’s air quality in eight-hour segments recorded at two locations, the Audubon and the Northwest monitors, in northern and northwestern Travis County. Ranking those measurements from highest to lowest average amounts of pollution, the EPA designates the fourth-highest measurement recorded over a year’s time as that year’s design value, the number used to calculate the region’s status… (LINK TO STORY)
"It was a setup": House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, gun rights activist come face-to-face at Texas GOP fundraiser (Texas Tribune)
A Texas GOP fundraiser Tuesday brought state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen face-to-face with the gun rights activist whom state troopers recently intercepted at Bonnen’s home, the latest chapter in sharp tensions between the two.
“It was a setup,” Bonnen told The Texas Tribune in an interview Wednesday evening, saying the activist, Chris McNutt, was seated close to Bonnen and appeared prepared for an encounter with him.
After a confrontation with McNutt and others in his group, Bonnen left the closed-door event early, before his scheduled speaking slot.
The incident illustrated the still-flaring tensions from a couple weeks ago when McNutt was met by officers with the Department of Public Safety outside Bonnen's home while the speaker was in Austin… (LINK TO STORY)
Airbnb reverses policy that landed it on Texas’ anti-Israel list (Austin American-Statesman)
Airbnb is backtracking on a plan to delist its properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, after backlash that included the company being banned from doing business with the state of Texas.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, whose office last month added Airbnb to a list of companies banned from working with Texas, indicated in a news release that the move would likely get the company back in good graces. “While de-listing will not be immediate and Comptroller staff will carefully review the details of this decision before removing Airbnb from our anti-Israel list, we are already in communication with Airbnb to begin that process,” the release said… (LINK TO STORY)
Hemp, CBD legalization bill passes first hurdle in Texas House (Dallas Morning News)
Clutching a brown walking stick and black iPad, former Rep. Rick Hardcastle, the lawmaker turned lobbyist said he did not come to the Texas Capitol representing an interest group or client. Hardcastle showed up, he said, to urge the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee to legalize hemp.
The committee unanimously approved the bill on April 9; Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, was absent. It now heads to the House Committee on Calendars, which has the power to send the bill to the House for a floor debate. The regular legislative session ends on May 27… (LINK TO STORY)
Brad Parscale is returning to San Antonio, toting Trump’s 2020 playbook (San Antonio Express-News)
When President Donald Trump arrives in San Antonio for a fundraiser on Wednesday, he’ll be with his campaign manager Brad Parscale, the former San Antonio digital expert who is building what he described as “the greatest political operation on Earth.”
It will be Parscale’s first trip back to San Antonio in six months and his first trip on Air Force One since taking charge of a massive political operation that, combined with pro-Trump PACs, Parscale predicts will raise more than $1 billion for the president’s re-election drive… (LINK TO STORY)
On April 10th, 2019 the Bingham Group team marked its Two Year Anniversary!
Public Affairs Associate Intern Julie Potrykus spoke with Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham about the start of the firm, reflecting on the past two years, and what’s ahead. She also speaks with Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña who recently joined the firm about his experience in the Austin market.